Pregnancy can throw many symptoms at you during the day whether it is nausea, itchy skin or swollen ankles but when night time comes Mother Nature doesn’t stop there as she presents you with the gift of insomnia! It just seems cruel because we all know that caring for a newborn baby can mean endless nights with broken sleep so you would think pregnancy would be all about conserving energy and “banking” loads of sleep in preparation but no – unfortunately it doesn’t work like that! So whilst you’re laid in bed in the early hours Googling “Why can’t I get to sleep?” – Let’s take a look at what causes insomnia in pregnancy and how you can overcome sleepless nights.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia can be explained as inadequate or poor-quality sleep and can be as a result of one or more of the following:
- Difficulty falling to sleep at bedtime
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Difficulty returning to sleep during the night
- Unrefreshing sleep
What causes insomnia during pregnancy?
Insomnia in pregnancy is very common, as you progress through your pregnancy different factors can play a part in your sleeping issues. Examples of these are:
- Hormonal changes
- Frequent trips to the toilet during the night
- Anticipating the arrival of baby
- Frequent and vivid dreams
- Back pain
- Discomfort due to the increased size of your bump
At what point in pregnancy will I get insomnia?
Insomnia can strike at any point in pregnancy; however, it is more common in the first trimester due to your hormones and growing uterus pressing against your bladder which causes the frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom. You may well get some respite in your second trimester as your uterus grows out of your pelvis and your hormones settle. Unfortunately, your third trimester can see the return of insomnia as you find it harder to get comfortable due to your growing bump and you might subconsciously be worrying about baby’s impending arrival.
How can I manage my insomnia?
The important thing to realise is that insomnia won’t affect your baby, but the more you worry about it the more it will play a part in your bedtime antics. So here are some ideas to help reduce the anxiety and aid a restful night’s sleep:
- Prepare yourself for bedtime
Have a relaxing evening leading up to bedtime, avoid your phone, computer or TV – opting instead for a warm bath, massage or reading a book. Avoid caffeine from lunchtime onwards because even a latte mid-afternoon can affect your sleeping and don’t forget chocolate also contains caffeine! Also be mindful of what you are drinking in an evening because decaffeinated tea and coffee can still act as a diuretic and get you dashing for a wee in the middle of the night!
- Prepare your bedroom for sleep
Keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet, avoid having mobile phones or similar technology in the room and consider playing some soft relaxing music or natural sounds to help you relax (doesn’t have to be whale music – there are lots of other options!). You can also use smells to relax your mind, aromatherapy is great for this but you need to be careful with which oils are safe to use in pregnancy. We’ve simplified things for you by developing “Sleepy Mama” Pillow mist which is perfect to spritz around your bedroom and over your pillow and bedding to allow you to chill out and switch off that busy mind.
- Get comfortable
Wear loose fitting breathable clothing in bed or just your underwear or naked if you prefer – you don’t want clothing that is restrictive or that will make you sweaty! Try our different pillow combinations to support your bump as you lay on your side, some women find a pillow between their legs also helps.
- And relax!
Once you are in a comfortable position you need to relax your mind and clear out all of the day’s thoughts otherwise you’ll be mulling over things which will prevent you from relaxing. There are several techniques that can be used such as mindfulness, visualisation, meditation, breathing patterns or simply just taking yourself off in your mind to a favourite place and exploring what you can see, hear, smell and feel in that place – it gives you something relaxing to focus on as you drift off to sleep rather than ending up worrying about what’s happened that day. If you are interested in HypnoBirthing then those techniques can also be used to relax at bedtime too.
- Keep everything low key
If you wake up in the night for a wee keep the lights dim and don’t be tempted to check your phone – bright lights and interacting with your phone with start to activate your brain and wake you up good and proper! Tell your partner not to talk to you either if they hear you up and about because again this will spark conversation which will trigger your brain to be more wakeful.
- Be prepared to abandon the bedroom
If you’ve tried all of the above and you are still lay there wide awake there is no point in tossing and turning in bed and watching the clock – you will only become more anxious about the whole situation which won’t help matters. Instead get up and find a quiet corner to relax with a blanket and book, remembering to keep everything low key and quiet, maybe grab a small snack or warm milky drink. Be mindful of if you start to feel tired and then return to bed and try again.
- If all else fails
If you are able to consider grabbing a daytime nap to catch up on broken sleep, not too long though otherwise, it will impact on the next night’s sleep!
Try not to worry about insomnia in pregnancy it is a common issue and will not affect your baby. At least this way you will be used to being awake at night and surviving on minimal sleep so maybe Mother Nature is clever after all!!
Hope you’ve found this helpful x
Thanks for reading
Jane – The Midwife
For more blogs on pregnancy, birth and life as a new mum please visit www.naturalbirthingcompany.com/blogs/news
During your pregnancy factors may come into play that results in you requiring different advice – in these circumstances, you should seek direct advice from you own Midwife/Doctor according to your situation.
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.