Having trouble sleeping is one of the most frustrating pregnancy symptoms you will experience, but not all hope is lost as there are several things you can do to help you sleep better at night. Below you will find a list of several different anti-trouble sleeping tactics you can try. However, you will notice that one thing is not on the list: taking sleep inducing medications. Whether they are herbal, over-the-counter or prescription, sleep inducing medication can have negative side effects for both you and your baby’s health, so we highly recommend avoiding them.
Tactics for sleeping better include:
Avoid alcohol and smoking. You should already be doing this, but just in case you aren’t it could be what is causing you to have trouble sleeping.
- Cut down on your caffeine intake. Again something you should already be doing, because too much caffeine can be bad for you and your baby. However, if you haven’t been able to kick your daily cup of coffee or tea, we recommend limiting it to the morning time and avoiding all caffeine sources during the afternoon, evening and night.
- Drink less in the evenings. If you find you are constantly getting up to pee during the night, we suggest fully hydrating during the day, but avoiding liquids for a couple of hours before bed. Make sure you start your day with a tall glass of water, because you need to keep hydrated.
- Avoid heavy meals and spicy foods in the evenings. These meals can cause heartburn so if that’s what’s keeping you up at night, this tactic should help.
- Nibble on plain, dry crackers before bed. If nausea is keeping you up dry crackers really help to settle your stomach.
- Take a mid-afternoon nap for 30-60 minutes each day. This helps to keep you from feeling too exhausted if you’re having a lot of trouble sleeping at night, but never take it too close to bedtime or your problem will get worse.
- Don’t exercise before bed. Exercise gets your heart rate up, so try to leave 3-4 hours between the end of your exercise session and bedtime.
- Try a relaxation technique before bed. These can include deep breathing techniques or different kinds of meditation.
- Deal with your worries during the day. There’s nothing you can in the middle of the night when you’re worrying about what you need to buy for your baby or requesting maternity leave so keep a to-do list by your bed and write down what’s keeping you up and leave it for the next day when you will actually be doing something about it.
- Talk to your partner, friends and family. If you’re worried about labour, birth and motherhood, talking about your anxieties can help to relieve them.
- Maintain a balanced sleep cycle. Try to schedule what time you wake up and go to sleep at for the same time each day, it will get your body into a rhythm.
- Develop a personal bedtime routine. This will train your body to know when it’s time to wind down. Whether it’s a pre-bedtime bath or massage, reading a novel or embracing a relaxation technique find something that works for you. Avoid watching TV or going on the computer as the lights and sounds are brain stimulants and won’t help you to wind down.
- Make sure your room is peaceful. This means getting rid of all light and sound distractions that either prevent you from falling to sleep or wake you up.
- Sleep on your left side. This has been found to really help with the bump-in-the-way situation. We suggest getting into the habit of sleeping on your side from trimester 1 so that by the time trimester 3 rolls around it really is comfortable for you.
- Get out of bed and do something. This is a last resort, but if nothing is helping you sleep getting out of bed and doing something that makes you drowsy can really help. Pick up a boring magazine your partner has lying around the house or watch a dull TV programme.
There really is a lot you can do. Just think about what is keeping you up at night and what you think will work for you. However, if nothing works we recommend talking to your healthcare provider for further advice.
Do you have any anti-trouble sleeping tricks of your own that work?