One of the greatest challenges faced by pregnant women is getting enough sleep, contrary to popular belief that women who are pregnant tend to deal with insomnia a lot. As much as pregnancy leaves you exhausted all day long, it could also cause insomnia which could occur as early as the first trimester.
Experiencing insomnia during pregnancy should not be a cause for alarm because it is perfectly reasonable and it has not been proven to be harmful to the baby or cause complications during childbirth.
During the first trimester, pregnant women are extremely exhausted and tend to go to bed early, but for specific factors, they experience a reduction in the quality of their sleep.
It is normal to experience a change in the secretions of hormones while pregnant; some of these hormones are responsible for a change in sleep cycles and difficulty in sleeping. For example, a rise in the levels of progesterone can cause respiratory changes that can disrupt your sleep and leave you awake at night.
A pregnancy can be a wonderful and life-changing experience, but for a woman who is experiencing it for the first time, it isn’t surprising to find her being anxious all the time. Anxiety makes falling and staying asleep difficult.
Pregnancy and urinating come hand in hand because your bladder capacity has shrunk as a result of your growing uterus, this causes it to get full quickly thus, leading to frequent urination.
Most pregnant women have sleepless nights over leg cramps; this, however, can be avoided by stretching your calf, getting a foot massage or simply walking around.
Pain and General Discomforts
It is expected for a pregnant woman to experience pain in her lower back and other discomforts like nausea, indigestion, and heartburn. This could easily keep anyone awake at night.
These are the main factors responsible for keeping pregnant women awake at night; other factors would be stress related, like over-thinking and depression. Insomnia during pregnancy can be a challenge, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be managed and improved.
The following tips can help pregnant women sleep better. Some of them are:
During the first trimester of pregnancy, the woman tends to get tired quickly which causes daytime sleepiness; it is normal to fall asleep easily during the day as a result of this. However, sleeping during the day can reduce the sleep pressure that builds up over the day; this could make it difficult to sleep at night.
To avoid napping, try going to bed earlier than usual for instance if you usually go to bed by 11 pm, then try going to bed by 10 pm, this would make you wake up earlier and still have enough time before going to bed at night.
Stack a Lot of Pillows
Having a lot of pillows is essential while pregnant as you would require a lot of support primarily by the third trimester; you should start with a full-length pillow then proceed to get a lot of smaller pillows.
Some women prefer pillows under their arms and head while others prefer the pillows wedged between their knees or between baby belly and bed. You should go for whatever works for you as long as you feel comfortable.
Ignore the Dreams
According to studies, it is normal for pregnant women to have dreams about their baby being in danger, this could awaken the woman and give her sleepless nights. When you wake up from such dreams, ignore and go back to bed because it is not a premonition.
Avoid Taking Liquid after 8 pm
Frequent urination is normal during pregnancy but can be controlled just like potty training where you can fill up your kids with liquids until 4 pm then reduce the quantity to a quarter cup or when he asks for water, the same goes for pregnant women.
Apart from physiology being a reason for taking midnight bathroom trips, most pregnant women do not take enough liquid to stay hydrated during the day. This makes them drink a lot when they get home, and the best way to control this is to carry along a big bottle of water with you to work or during your day to day activities to help you stay hydrated.
Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
Keeping a sleep schedule helps your body regulate your sleep and wake cycle, it also uses light as well. If your body gets confused, then you could be tossing and turning for hours.
Deal With Nausea
Nausea and vomiting are very normal while pregnant but the intensity varies in different women, while some women can carry on with their lives feeling nauseous others can’t, it makes them feel ill and uncomfortable.
You can reduce nausea by munching on bland crackers during the day; this helps avert nighttime nausea.
Stop Eating Spicy Foods
Heartburn is one of the factors that contribute greatly to insomnia in pregnant women. They are caused mainly by spicy food or anything acidic; you should reduce or stop eating spicy food to reduce heartburns.
Reduce the Amount of Food You Eat
Eating several lighter meals during the day instead of a heavier one at night can help you sleep better and deeper.
Avoid Kick Butts
Reduce the amount of time you spend with people who smoke. Studies from the Nihon University in Tokyo have shown that pregnant women who are exposed to tobacco smoke are more likely to have trouble falling and staying asleep. They also had breathing difficulties and were likely to awake at the crack of dawn.
Strip the Bedroom
A lot of sleep specialist go by the saying “The bedroom is meant for sleep and sex,” this couldn’t be any more right. Having anything else that is unrelated to this two pleasurable activities can have you awake at odd hours of the day. Strip the room of the TV, computer, Parenting books and cellphone to help you sleep properly.
Talk About Your Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and stress have a physiological effect on sleep and could keep you up at night. It is essential to talk to family and friends about whatever is keeping you up at night or schedule a quick visit to a therapist who can help address your anxiety.
Several relaxation techniques could also help pregnant women sleep better at night;
Getting a massage helps relaxes tense and tired muscles, visiting a massage therapist can help you relax your muscles and ease into sleep at night.
It is important to make sure the massage therapist has worked with pregnant women and utilizes a table and pillow designed specifically for pregnant women. You can also opt for a foot, neck or hand massage from your partner.
Deep breathing can help relax your muscles while reducing heart rate and helps you sleep faster and better. The technique is used by most pregnant women.
Lay down on your bed or carpet with legs extended.
Lie on your left side or stuff a pillow on your right side, so you’re tilted slightly to the left.
Slowly breathe in through your nose while you close your mouth, hold for a few seconds then exhale after the count of four.
Prenatal yoga and stretching help you relax while keeping you fit and toned during pregnancy.
Exercise can help you sleep better while making you healthier physically and mentally. However, it is advisable not to exercise four hours before bed to avoid revving up and robbing you of your natural sleep. Try to do some exercises in the morning, afternoon or early in the evening.
Imagining yourself in a relaxed and serene environment like walking in an unending path of flowers, watching clouds float or just lying on the beach can go a long way in helping you relax.
Every detail of the scene like the smell, tastes, and textures around you matter, it doesn’t necessarily have to be an imagination it could be a memory of a fun time you had with friends and family.