Sleeping Solutions

For a while now I’ve been wanting to put together a blog post about getting better sleep. It is common topic that comes up at visits, and something that most pregnant women are dealing with at some point, if not throughout pregnancy.

It is common to have a harder time falling asleep, staying asleep, and sleeping in during pregnancy. I’ve pulled together a list of various ideas to try below. Wishing you sweet dreams!

  • Often sleeping issues are blood sugar related. Be sure to have a protein snack before bed to help your blood sugar stay stable throughout the night. If you wake up in the night (especially between 2-4am), have a protein snack to help you fall back asleep. If your blood sugar is low enough to wake you up, it will make it hard to fall asleep until you eat something. Some women keep a protein snack on their bedside table so that they don’t have to get up and go to the kitchen for a snack. Easy night time snacks are: nuts, half of a protein bar, dried edamame, individually wrapped cheese, half of a nut butter sandwich, a piece of buffalo jerky, etc.
  • Exercise regularly. Getting normal exercise helps your body sleep better. Even a 10 minute walk after meals can make a big difference.
  • Make sure that you are using plenty of pillows. As your body grows, you’ll need more of them to feel supported while you sleep. Tuck one under your belly, between your legs, behind your back, and between your arms. Many moms enjoy using a pregnancy pillow.
  • If you feel like your are mostly just waking up to urinate, try to get 8-10 glasses of water in before dinner, so that as you get close to bedtime, you can cut down on your fluid intake.
  • Stay away from caffeine and excess sugar in your diet, especially in the afternoon and evening.
  • Are you having a hard time slowing your mind down? Or waking up with a racing mind? Try journaling or making a list of everything going through your mind so that you  can clear your mind.
  • Try a hot bath before bed. Adding 3 cups of epson salts will help your muscles and ligaments relax from the tensions of the day. It often makes moms fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and stay asleep longer.
  • Make a bed time routine so that you aren’t going straight from your busy day straight to bed. Have some time to unwind, check in with your partner, do a bit of yoga, go for a walk, work on some crafting or read for pleasure. Let your mind and body start to relax before hopping into bed.
  • Have some relaxing time with your partner before bed. Offer to trade 15 minute back or foot massages.
  • Consider sleeping alone if you and your partner are waking each other up throughout the night.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up. If you are laying in bed for more than 30 minutes, get out of bed and do a non-stimulating task, such as reading or playing a simple game. When you feel tired again, then go back to bed to sleep.
  • Keep your bed a place for sleeping, not a place for doing work or watching TV. It is best for your body to associate laying in bed with sleeping.
  • Use a guided meditation or progressive relaxation exercise to help you fall asleep. Ask your midwife for recommendations, or see what you can find online. There are many variations to try, and each person seems to have their own favorites. Hypnobabies has one that can be ordered or downloaded called “Peaceful sleep for expectant moms.”
  • Drink a cup of relaxing tea in the evening before bed, such as camomile, catnip, valerian, lemon balm, skullcap. Use 1 teaspoon of herbs for 125ml of water, steep for 20 minutes. Be aware that people who are allergic to rag weed may also be sensitive to camomile. Also, valerian should only be used temporarily, as it can be habit forming.
  • An acupressure point for insomnia is on the back of the head, at the hairline on either side of the spine (Bladder 10).
  • Try homeopathic Calms Forte. You can find it at Whole Foods and various Co-ops. Take it 30 minutes before your bedtime, or if you wake up in the night.
  • If restless legs or leg cramps are keeping you up, talk with your midwife to see if you might need more calcium/magnesium in your diet or as a supplement. A tablespoon at night before bed helps some moms sleep much deeper, and stay asleep longer. It will also help take away muscle and ligament soreness.
  • Try the “Legs up the Wall” yoga pose in the evening before bedtime, which has been know to help with sleep. For instructions, check out this link: http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/690
  • Take 10-25 drops (dissolved in a small amount of water) of valerian root tincture before bed. Valerian should only be used temporarily, as it can be habit forming.
  • Try a guided sleep meditation, such as #50 Relax into Sleep at http://www.meditationoasis.com/podcast/.
  • Try not to stress about not sleeping at night. Once baby is here, you’ll be up every 2-3 hours to nurse, so some moms consider frequent waking during pregnancy as a warm up to lack of sleep postpartum. It is a great time to start scheduling in naps, and making them a high priority in your day!

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