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6 Natural and Safe Remedies for Sleep During Pregnancy
If you're suffering from insomnia while pregnant, you aren't alone. Here are the natural remedies that can help you sleep well and the ones to avoid, according to an expert.
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Discovering your pregnancy can be wonderful news. And as your body tries to adjust to being pregnant, you could experience differing sleep qualities throughout it. Your first trimester is when you can experience an increase in sleep quality and sleep time. However, by the third trimester, it isn't unusual to experience more restlessness and diminished sleep quality.
If you're struggling with insomnia during pregnancy, there are remedies you can do to improve sleep quality. We spoke to an expert to understand the acceptable, natural sleep aids you can use during pregnancy and which ones to absolutely avoid. Here is what we found.
That said, is it helpful for pregnant patients? "Given that it is a supplement, it is not regulated by the FDA, and the amount in over-the-counter preparations can vary," Dr. Aluru said. "There is not enough evidence to evaluate melatonin usage in pregnancy and the impact on the developing fetus."
Best natural remedies to help you sleep during pregnancy
Here are some of the best natural remedies during pregnancy that can enhance your sleep quality.
Yoga is an excellent remedy in that it can reduce stress, anxiety and depression during pregnancy. It can also promote short labor, and it's doctor-approved. It's one of Dr. Aluru's supportive measures to aid in improving sleep quality.
Also, many studios feature prenatal yoga classes. These specialize in doing stretches that can reduce lower back pain, leg fatigue and increase muscle flexibility, which can help you with delivery. And with improved range and lower stress, it might help you be able to fall asleep quicker.
You can use the power of a good massage to promote sleep during pregnancy. It's one of the supportive measures Dr. Aluru approves: Massages alleviate muscle and joint pain, and they can even reduce labor pain during childbirth. They also reduce stress, improve mood and can lessen postoperative pain.
Much like yoga, there are many massage therapists specializing in prenatal massage. It works similarly to a Swedish massage in that it's relaxing with soothing strokes and positions that are comfortable and safe for both you and your baby.
Warm baths or heating pads
Warm baths are a doctor-approved activity, as it reduces swelling, pain and stress. You'll want to keep your water below 98 degrees Fahrenheit, as hotter water can restrict blood flowing to your baby, which could cause distress.
Meanwhile, heating pads are also an excellent way to relieve sore muscles. Just be careful how long you use them. Dr. Aluru recommends, "20 minutes on, 20 minutes off to limit heat exposure."
Exercise is an effective way to gain more flexibility, reduce inflammation and boost your mood. Some of the best exercises to do are walking, riding an exercise bike, swimming and low-impact aerobic classes. You can consult with your doctor to determine which activities are the safest for you to do.
Tart cherry juice
"Tart cherry juice is safe to consume in pregnancy as long as there are no pre-existing allergies or glucose intolerance in pregnancy, being mindful of the sugar content," Dr. Aluru said. Tart cherry juice increases your body's bioavailability of tryptophan. In turn, your body can produce more melatonin, helping you sleep longer. Other foods that can increase melatonin production include eggs, milk, oily fish (such as salmon and sardines) and nuts (such as pistachios and almonds).
Practicing good sleep hygiene
What you should do before going to sleep can also influence your sleep quality. "Practicing sleep hygiene is recommended which includes a 'wind down' routine or limiting electronics and screen time and establishing a regular bedtime," Dr. Aluru said.
You'll also want to refrain from eating spicy foods before going to bed. Spicy food can result in acid reflux, which can make lying down uncomfortable and increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Sleep aids to avoid during pregnancy
There are some things that can impede your sleep quality, too. Here are remedies to avoid:
The United States Food and Drug Agency recommends you don't use cannabidiol. In animals with higher doses of CBD, the FDA found reproductive issues formed in male fetuses. CBD can also transfer to babies via breast milk.
While studies are ongoing in humans, keep in mind that CBD isn't regulated by the FDA. In their findings, they've discovered trace amounts of heavy metals, pesticides and bacteria in some CBD supplements. So, your best bet is to refrain from using them.
Certain herbal teas
There are many benefits to herbal teas, but some do pose risks during pregnancy. To illustrate, if you drink peppermint tea regularly, it could stimulate menstruation. Meanwhile, health studies link excessive amounts of chamomile tea to higher risks of miscarriages. In general, you'll want to avoid peppermint, chamomile and red raspberry tea leaves during your first trimester.
If you're having muscle spasms during pregnancy, your impulse might be to request a benzodiazepine (benzos) from your doctor. These are depressants, which cause a sedative effect and help with muscle spasms. The Centers for Disease Control found that women who took benzodiazepines could experience a small risk of birth defects. However, the study also states it doesn't know if the correlation is from benzodiazepine use or other underlying medical issues. That's why you'll want to consult with your doctor on alternative drugs to take during pregnancy.
Too long; didn't read?
There are things you can do to help gain quality sleep during pregnancy, like exercise, prenatal massage, yoga, drinking tart cherry juice and implementing sleep hygiene practices, like shutting off electronics an hour before bed. However, you'll also want to avoid products containing CBD, benzodiazepines or herbal teas (like peppermint and chamomile), as these can cause problems during pregnancy.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.