Whether it is our body’s clever way of preparing us for the sleepless nights when baby arrives, or just some cruel universal prank… here’s some tips to help you get some more zzzz’s during pregnancy
1) Wind down: Try to incorporate at least 30-60 min of wind down time before bed to prepare your body (and mind) for sleep. Dim the lights, light some candles, turn on some relaxing music, and avoid any stimulation such as bright lights, computers, TV, or work. Breathing or yoga exercises, meditation, and light reading are also a great way to wind down after a big day of carrying a little human around.
2) Reduce EMF: Electro magnetic radiation can wreak havoc on health and sleep. Some ways you can help reduce exposure in your bedroom for bedtime is; mobile off phones (or on aeroplane mode) overnight, no TV or laptops, turn off Wifi and all electric appliances off at the switches.
3) Use a soft night light: If you need to get up for other children overnight, or ten times to the bathroom, then a soft night light will prevent you from having to turn on a main light in the house for navigation. Bright light signals to the body that it is time to be awake, so even if you just turn it on briefly, it may cost you hours in lost sleep. I just love the gentle glow of salt lamps, and these have the added bonus of reducing EMF too. Red light interferes much less with our circadian rhythm than white light.
4) Keep a journal: We all know too well the good ol’ pregnancy insomnia, waking at 3am in the morning with a rushing mind. Keep a journal by your bedside to write down notes, lists, and thoughts when you wake (so they are not running through your head). This will help reduce any anxieties and enable you to fall back to sleep sooner.
5) Relax: Our lives can be extremely stressful these days managing careers, kid-wrangling, maintaining a household, financial pressures, and juggling social and family commitments. It’s extremely important that we take the time out to relax, regroup, and re-charge. When we are stressed, our body produces Cortisol (stress hormone), which can prevent us from getting to sleep, and staying asleep. So the more time out we have, the better the chance we have of eliminating cortisol from our body in preparation for sleep. Whether you meditate, do yoga or breathing exercises, or just take some time out to read a good book; make it a part of your daily routine.
6) Exercise: Goes hand in hand with relaxation. Exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels, blood pressure, aid in weight loss, and improve circulation (among many other benefits). Walking, swimming, yoga, and pilates can be done during any stage of pregnancy, whereas many women find they only have the energy for the gym or weight training in the second trimester. Of course everyone will feel differently, and it is important to listen to your body and know your limits.
7) Get some sunshine: Exposure to natural sunlight each day is extremely beneficial for our body clocks (or circadian rhythms). Sunlight promotes the production of melatonin (sleep hormone) – need I say anymore?
8) Sleep with a pregnancy pillow: With the increased pressure, aches and pains in later pregnancy, it can be challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position. Using a pregnancy pillow can alleviate sore backs and aching joints, and when propped behind your back, can assist you in sleeping on your side (as recommended by health professionals).
9) White Noise: Helps reduce stress, and promote longer and deeper sleep. White noise also helps to drown out sounds which might otherwise prevent you from either falling asleep or waking up whilst asleep. I recommend Sleepy Sounds (download for free on iTunes), or Conair Sound Therapy White Noise Machine.
10) Avoid stimulants, and reduce your fluid intake before bed: With the added pressure on our bladders during pregnancy, reducing fluids in the lead up to bed (ideally 1-2 hrs), and avoiding stimulants such as tea, coffee and chocolate can reduce the frequency of night wakings for trips to the bathroom. Caffeine (found in tea, chocolate and coffee) may keep you awake and is also a diuretic, so best avoided all together, or restrict to the morning.
If you have any additional tips that help you get some more sleep during pregnancy, I’d love to hear from you!