One of the first things people like to tell you when they learn you're expecting is how you can kiss sleeping goodbye. Though their foreboding warning may contain an element — okay, a lot — of truth, the issue of sleepless nights can occur long before your baby ever arrives. As it turns out, knowing about insomnia during pregnancy and how to address it properly might offer some relief. Thank goodness there are ways to cope with this restlessness because I know first hand how frustrating and exhausting insomnia is when you're pregnant. I truly wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.
If you've ever been so deliriously tired, but not able to sleep, that you've pleaded with various gods and higher powers to help, you're not alone. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA) a whopping 78 percent of expectant mothers experience insomnia at some point during their pregnancy. Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to address this situation, starting with potential causes. "Hormone fluctuations can cause hot flashes and night sweats, creating discomfort during sleep," Sleep Train consultant Hilary Thompson tells Romper. "Keep the room temperature around 65 degrees, use a fan, or use temperature-regulating sheets and pillows." Luckily all three of those suggestions are relatively inexpensive fixes to a temporary challenge.
Identifying the reason you can't sleep, like being too warm, means you can cope with it by modifying your bedtime habits. Checking your sheets and clothing for any signs of dampness can be a fairly quick and easy way to determine if getting too hot or cold was the reason your sleep wasn't very restful. During the third trimester of my pregnancy it was not uncommon for me to wake up to a drenched pillowcase and pajamas. Switching to a moisture-wicking fabric was a great way to combat the temperature issues that contributed to the insomnia I experienced while I was pregnant.
In addition to getting overheated, your ever-changing body can affect the quality of your sleep. "Discomfort in the bed [is a] reason why pregnancy leads to insomnia," clinical psychologist Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg tells Romper, and can be addressed by bringing in a wedge and body pillows, she suggests. Simple changes to improve your sleeping positions can make a big change with insomnia. "Pregnancy can cause frequent and vivid dreams, anxiety related to the pain of childbirth, or excitement for the arrival of a new family member," OB-GYN Dr. Craig A. Salcido tells Romper. "Try not to worry about falling asleep — this only increases anxiety — and make a point to focus on activities that can help you relax instead." Turning off your brain might be easier said than done, but creating a consistent bedtime routine brings stability to an unpredictable time in your life. As someone who has an anxiety disorder, I know that making an intentional effort to include calming activities definitely helped me sleep better.
Besides temperature and comfort issues, your dietary habits can play a role, too. "Don’t drink caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime and avoid spicy foods," sleep expert and founder of Sleep Fitness LLC Dr. Martha Cortés tells Romper. Ensuring that you're not upsetting your stomach or unnecessarily winding yourself up before you try to sleep can alleviate insomnia, pregnant or not. If heartburn or other digestive issues are keeping you awake at night despite a bland diet, you can try sleeping propped up on an incline. If nothing seems to help and you feel that your difficulty falling or staying asleep isn't improving or is significantly impairing your life, don't hesitate to reach out to your doctor just to be safe.
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