First trimester, second trimester, third trimester—each stage of pregnancy brings its own joys and challenges, but trouble sleeping can be part of them all.
“Sleep now, because you won’t sleep after baby arrives,” people tease you. With bags under your eyes and a short temper from already being sleep-deprived, it’s hard not to snap when you hear this!
Even though you probably feel tired and fatigued during the day (especially in your first and third trimesters), you may be having trouble sleeping through the night during pregnancy.
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Why? Let us count the ways:
Hormonal changes and morning sickness in the first trimester often cause trouble sleeping.
Dreams, anxiety, and heartburn may interrupt your sleep in the second trimester of pregnancy.
By the third trimester, you have to pee so often, get leg cramps, and have so much extra weight that it’s difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
There are a host of pregnancy symptoms that can cause trouble with your sleep:
- morning sickness
- frequent need to urinate
- leg cramps and back ache
- heartburn and indigestion
- restlessness and stress
- vivid, unusual, or even disturbing dreams
- Inability to find a comfortable sleeping position
If you weren’t pregnant, you might take a sleep aid or medication, but unfortunately, sleep aids, including many herbal ones like kava kava, are not recommended for pregnant women. Fortunately, there are some things you can do that will help you to get more sleep.
7 Tips for Trouble Sleeping During Pregnancy
Hopefully, you’ve already decreased your caffeine consumption to no more than 300 mg a day (or about two cups of coffee). If you’re not sleeping well, try eliminating caffeine completely. If that’s too difficult, don’t drink or eat anything with caffeine after noon.
Evaluate What and When You’re Eating
This is especially important if you are suffering from pregnancy heartburn. Try not to eat spicy foods, citrus fruit, or dairy products. Although eating a large meal just before bed is not a good idea, you might try eating a carbohydrate-rich snack like crackers or a small baked potato an hour or so before you go to bed. This may not only help you sleep, but might also help if you are feeling nauseated.
Get into a Routine
Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day (even on the weekends). This will help to establish a regular sleep cycle. Some experts also recommend that you only use your bed for sleep so that your brain will associate the bed with sleep rather than reading, watching TV, etc. Also, make sure your bedroom is as dark as you can make it. Close the blinds turn off the nightlight. You might even want to cover the digital clock display.
Moderate, regular exercise during pregnancy is good for your body and can help you sleep. Yoga might also be helpful. Be sure not to exercise within a couple hours of going to bed though.
Lie on Your Side
Most doctors recommend that you do not lie on your back after the fourth month, as doing so restricts blood to the uterus. Some doctors recommend you try to sleep on your left side to avoid putting pressure on your liver.
Use Pregnancy Pillows
Use pillows as needed to keep you comfortable. A large body or pregnancy pillow can be especially helpful. Pillows can be used to support your back, keep you sleeping on your side, or just to hug for comfort. Some women find it helpful to place a small pillow between their knees.
If you’re feeling stressed about the pregnancy, birth, or about being a new mom, do what you can to relax. Try a warm bath before bed, a cup of herbal tea, listening to soothing music, using relaxation techniques, or having your partner give you a gentle massage.
Sometimes, sleep will elude you no matter what you do. Rather than lie in bed worried about the sleep you are not getting, try reading a book, watching TV, or catching up on email. Hopefully, you can make up for your lost sleep with a catnap the next day.