Between your growing belly, high hormone levels, and your baby kicking and squirming, getting a good night’s rest while pregnant can feel downright impossible some nights. While every mama-to-be has different experiences with pregnancy insomnia, here are a few things you can do to improve the quality of your sleep during your pregnancy:
Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Try your best to create a bedtime ritual that you can consistently do each night to signal to your body (and your brain!) that it’s time to rest.
The first step in preparing yourself for sleep? Step away from the screens. Studies show that the blue light produced by your devices can actually inhibit your body’s production of melatonin (the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycles). While we know it can be relaxing to scroll through your phone while in bed, try to put down any blue-light producing devices about an hour or so before bedtime and opt for reading a book instead.
Other ideas to help you wind down and prepare for sleep:
- Take a soothing, warm (not hot) bath
- Sip on a cup of caffeine-free tea or cup of warm milk with honey
- Listen to a guided meditation
- Use aromatherapy in your bedroom (a diffuser or pillow spray can instantly make you feel relaxed)
- Stick with a consistent bedtime each night that allows for at least 8 hours of sleep
Sleep on Your Side for Better Circulation
While it can be hard to find a comfortable sleeping position as your baby gets bigger (and busier), try out a few different positions to see what gets you the best night’s sleep. Providers used to recommend that mamas-to-be should avoid sleeping on their backs after the 20-week milestone. New guidance shows it’s totally fine to sleep on your back throughout your pregnancy if it’s comfortable.
Side sleeping can, however, help with circulation—and sleeping on your left side specifically can help with blood flow to your organs (including the uterus and your fetus). To help encourage you to stay comfortably asleep on your side:
- Place a pillow between your legs and/or under your bump
- Use a foam or egg crate mattress topper to help with any hip discomfort while sleeping on your side
- Invest in a full-length pregnancy pillow to support your whole body as you sleep
- Place a wedge pillow behind you—if you’re prone to sleeping on your back but find it uncomfortable, a wedge pillow ensures you’ll still be at a slight tilt and may take the pressure off
Plan Your Food and Drink
Pregnancy insomnia can team up with other pesky pregnancy side effects to make sleep even more elusive: heartburn, acid reflux, and the need to pee (a lot). To try and eliminate these factors from affecting your sleep, be mindful of when (and what) you’re eating and drinking as nighttime nears.
To prevent heartburn and acid reflux, do your best to avoid spicy, fried or acidic foods—particularly later in the day. If you do happen to have something at dinner that causes a heartburn flare-up, try not to lay down too soon after eating to prevent irritating reflux. And while it’s extremely important to drink plenty of water during the day when you’re pregnant, cut back on your water intake later in the day to prevent frequent trips to the bathroom.
Get Out of Bed
If you’ve done everything you can to sleep soundly and still find yourself watching time tick by, get out of bed for a reset. Try doing a calm activity like reading a book or working on a puzzle. After spending some time thinking about something other than sleep, you might just feel like you’re ready to doze off once you climb back in bed.
If you’re not sleeping because you’re feeling worried about something (or just can’t shut your brain off), find a cozy corner of your house and write down your thoughts. Whether it’s making a to-do list, or simply journaling about how you’re feeling, sometimes getting things down on paper (remember: no screens) can be a useful tool in calming your mind enough for sleep.
If your lack of sleep is impacting your day-to-day life, schedule some time to discuss pregnancy-friendly sleep aids with your doctor. After all, getting enough sleep is imperative to your health—and the health of your growing baby! Wishing you sweet dreams, mama.