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Getting a good night's sleep with a growing belly and a hormonal maelstrom can be hard. Try these tips to beat sleepless nights during pregnancy.
Taylor LeameySenior Writer
Taylor Leamey writes about all things wellness, specializing in mental health, sleep and nutrition coverage. She has invested hundreds of hours into studying and researching sleep and holds a Certified Sleep Science Coach certification from the Spencer Institute. Not to mention the years she spent studying mental health fundamentals while earning her bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Sociology. She is also a Certified Stress Management Coach.
ExpertiseBachelor of Science, Psychology and SociologyCredentials
Insomnia during pregnancy happens to many people. According to the American Pregnancy Association, an estimated 78% of pregnant women experience insomnia. Hormone changes, babies kicking you in the bladder and heartburn are only a few factors that can keep you up at night while pregnant.
Trouble sleeping early in pregnancy is often attributed to hormonal shifts and nausea. Meanwhile, disturbances in the later terms of pregnancy are often due to discomfort and anxiety. Pregnancy insomnia can happen at any point during pregnancy, but many people find that insomnia starts in the latter half of pregnancy -- when the baby belly makes it hard to get comfortable. That's not the only reason sleep troubles can arise, however.
While you can't solve biological causes like a changing body or fluctuating hormones, you can ensure that your sleep hygiene isn't making matters worse. Think of sleep hygiene as all the habits and behaviors you take to sleep at night. It can be as simple as adjusting your thermostat or as involved as exercising.
5 tips to beat pregnancy insomnia
Make time for relaxing activities
One of the most common reasons for sleeping troubles during pregnancy is discomfort. That's why it's important to integrate relaxation into your nightly routine. It can be whatever you find relaxing -- reading a book or journaling your thoughts. You may try breathing exercises or relaxation techniques you learned in childbirth classes.
Epsom salt baths can help soothe sore muscles and achy backs and make it easier to fall asleep. Your brain relies on your body temperature to indicate when it's time to sleep. A degree or two may not seem like a big deal, but for our circadian rhythm, it's a crucial step for sleeping.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps maintain our circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. Our melatonin production is reduced when we're exposed to light during the day. Then, as the sun sets and we're getting ready for bed, melatonin production kicks into high gear and we get sleepy.
Pregnancy requires a huge amount of energy and nutrients that can leave you feeling fatigued. Though the typical advice for insomnia is to stay awake during the day as naps may worsen symptoms, that doesn't apply to pregnancy. Pregnant women need to nap, especially at the beginning of the pregnancy as the placenta grows.
You should strategically plan your naps to ensure they will not impact your sleep at night. A good rule of thumb is to keep it short and early in the day. If you nap too long or too late in the day, it can make it harder to fall asleep later.
CBT-I sessions will help redirect negative thoughts and behaviors that may exacerbate insomnia into positive ones. Instead of taking a sleeping aid to alleviate symptoms, CBT-I helps you identify and replace thinking and behaviors that impact your ability to sleep at night. CBT-I will be particularly helpful if the underlying causes of the sleep troubles are anxiety or stress. Most people see results fairly quickly -- typically between four and six sessions.
Sleep on your left side
Getting comfortable in bed can seem impossible when you're sporting a huge baby bump. Not only is sleeping on your side the most comfortable pregnancy position but side sleeping is associated with alleviating insomnia. More specifically, sleeping on your left side can help ease gastrointestinal troubles like indigestion. That's because our stomachs are naturally left-side oriented in our bodies, which makes digestion the most effective if you sleep on your left side. Nighttime heartburn is common during pregnancy; sleeping on your left side can help ease symptoms.
Adapting to a new sleeping position can be difficult, especially if it's not your typical position. Try using a maternity pillow to support your back and knees to keep you from turning onto your back.
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.