The 9 best natural remedies for insomnia during pregnancy
The best online guide to managing insomnia naturally during pregnancy.
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Insomnia during pregnancy
It's no secret that pregnancy and insomnia are close friends.
Well, maybe not friends. You know what I mean.
Here are some numbers to show you how common insomnia is during the three trimesters of pregnancy:
- First trimester: 44.2% of pregnancies
- Second trimester: 46.3% of pregnancies
- Third trimester: 63.7% of pregnancies
That's a lot of sleepless nights. Clearly.
Even more shockingly, look how common insomnia is in women before and after pregnancy:
- Before pregnancy: 6.1% of women
- After pregnancy: 33.2% of women
So, not only is insomnia a problem during pregnancy, it's a problem before you're even pregnant and after you've given birth!
You may be wondering: what are the best natural remedies for insomnia during pregnancy?
In return, I'll say that that's a great question.
Before we dive into treating the problem, however, let's start by understanding it.
What causes insomnia during pregnancy?
There are several factors that can contribute to insomnia during pregnancy, including:
- Hormonal changes: Pregnancy is accompanied by significant hormonal changes, which can affect sleep patterns and quality. The hormone progesterone, in particular, can cause changes to the way we sleep in pregnancy.
- Physical discomfort: As the baby grows, it can put pressure on the bladder, causing frequent trips to the bathroom and disrupting sleep. The growing uterus can also put pressure on the diaphragm, making it harder to breathe, and cause discomfort or pain in the back, legs, and hips.
- Emotional changes: Pregnancy can bring about a range of emotions, including excitement, anxiety, and worry, which can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep.
- Lifestyle factors: Caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use can all disrupt sleep. It's important to avoid consuming these substances, especially close to bedtime. Additionally, engaging in activities that stimulate the brain, such as watching TV or using a computer, before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.
- Medical conditions: Some women may experience sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or acid reflux, which can interfere with sleep during pregnancy.
If you're experiencing insomnia during pregnancy, it's important to talk to your doctor. They can help you identify and address the underlying cause of your sleep problems and suggest strategies for improving your sleep. Please see your doctor before trying or changing any management strategy for insomnia.
What are the best natural remedies for insomnia during pregnancy?
Ask and you shall receive.
I'm going to start with the simpler natural remedies that you can start doing for free right now.
Of course, it's understandable that it may be difficult to do them all or to do them consistently. Which is why I'll also be recommending a few products that should help you get back to sleep.
Improve your sleep hygiene
Good sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that promote healthy sleep. Here are some tips for improving your sleep hygiene:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. It's perfectly alright to nap, but try to nap earlier in the day so you can still sleep at night. Having a regular sleep schedule can help optimise your body's natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex: Avoid using your bedroom for activities such as watching TV or working on the computer.
- Avoid stimulating activities before bed: Avoid activities that stimulate the brain, such as watching TV or using a computer, close to bedtime. Instead, try relaxing activities such as reading a book or taking a warm bath.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco: These substances can disrupt sleep. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided close to bedtime, and tobacco should be avoided altogether.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity can improve sleep quality, but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can promote good sleep. Avoid heavy, rich meals close to bedtime.
- Manage stress: Stress and anxiety can interfere with sleep. Try techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help relax before bed.
- Get plenty of natural light during the day: Exposure to natural light during the day can help regulate your body's sleep-wake cycle.
Change your sleeping position
The best sleeping position during pregnancy is generally considered to be on your left side. This position can help improve circulation to all the right places, including your baby. As the uterus grows during pregnancy, sleeping on your back mignt cause backache and isn't as good for your circulation.
If you're used to sleeping on your back or stomach, it may take some time to get used to sleeping on your side. Here are some tips to help you get comfortable:
- Use pillows to support your body: Place a pillow between your legs and under your belly to help support your body and reduce pressure on your back.
- Invest in a pregnancy pillow: Pregnancy pillows are specifically designed to support the body during pregnancy and can help you get comfortable in a side-sleeping position.
It's important to remember that every woman is different, and the best sleeping position during pregnancy may vary from person to person. If you're still struggling to get comfortable, it may be helpful to talk to your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist for additional guidance.
Easier said than done, I know. But hear me out. Either follow these tips yourself or use an app to do most of the hard work for you.
Meditation is a relaxation technique that can help improve sleep during pregnancy. Pregnancy can be a time of increased stress and anxiety, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Meditation can help calm the mind and relax the body, making it easier to fall asleep and get a good night's rest.
Here's how to meditate to help improve sleep during pregnancy:
- Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
- If you find it helpful, you can repeat a mantra or phrase to yourself, such as "peace" or "relax."
- Continue focusing on your breath and mantra for about 10-20 minutes.
- When you're ready to end the meditation, slowly open your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
Meditation can be practiced at any time of day, but it can be particularly helpful to practice before bed as a way to relax and prepare for sleep. If you're new to meditation, it may take some time to get the hang of it. Be patient with yourself and try to make it a regular part of your routine.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
CBT is actually first-line treatment for insomnia, before medication and all of that.
It's a very useful treatment for insomnia during pregnancy.
So it goes saying that it's a highly recommended strategy. And one of the most highly regarded online therapy providers is BetterHelp - click here to learn more.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can be effective for treating insomnia during pregnancy. CBT is a form of talk therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thoughts and behaviors that contribute to sleep problems.
During CBT for insomnia, you'll work with a therapist to identify and modify negative beliefs and behaviors that are disrupting your sleep. This may include identifying and changing patterns of negative thinking, setting and sticking to a regular sleep schedule, and developing relaxation techniques to use before bed.
Use a humidifier
Nasal congestion can become a real nuisance during pregnancy, so keeping them open can be a surprisingly effective solution for those sleepless nights.
Humidifiers keep the humidity of room air at an optimal level, to get you comfortable and snoozing.
Enroll in a class
Not a maths class (that'd likely make your sleep problem worse).
It's likely that part of the reason you're staying up at night is because you're worried. About baby, parenthood, the list goes on. Totally normal.
Enrolling in a class is a great way to alleviate some of those worries and improve your sleep.
Make yourself comfortable
What do I mean by that?
Simple things like your sleeping environment can easily be overlooked. You want to ensure that you optimise your environment so that your bedroom wants you to fall asleep.
Here's a quick checklist you can use to make sure you're on the right track:
- Is your bed comfortable?
- Are you happy with your pillow?
- And your sheets?
- Is it too loud in your room? (Snoring partners included)
- Is your room dark enough?
- Does your room smell okay? (Trying not to ask too many questions here)
Simple things can make all the difference.
Avoid prescription sleeping pills and over-the-counter supplements
It's usually best to avoid prescription sleeping pills for insomnia, whether you're pregnant or not. They're addictive, have significant side effects, and should only be started under the supervision of a doctor.
Over-the-counter supplements like melatonin are more of a grey area. The evidence is early and more research is needed, but melatonin seems to be a useful supplement for certain sleep disorders including insomnia.
But they haven't been studied enough in pregnant women. Which means we don't know if they're safe.
Even products such as sleep tea may contain ingredients which can cause complications such as preterm labour.
Moral of the story: don't swallow anything unless directed by your doctor.
Maybe that's a slight exaggeration. You can still eat and stuff. Just be careful.
See your doctor
This counts as a natural remedy and you can't convince me otherwise!
Your doctor is there to guide you through your pregnancy safely, so visit them if you have concerns or health issues.
Certain health conditions during pregnancy may contribute to insomnia, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and acid reflux.
None of the other suggestions in this article are intended to replace your doctor and you should always see them before using a new product.
What if I just can not get back to sleep?
This is very common and the first thing is that you shouldn't beat yourself up for it.
If you really can't sleep, get out of bed and do something else for around 30 minutes or so.
Maybe listen to some soothing music or read a book.
Then try to get back to bed when you're feeling sleepy again.
What should I do now?
Use these tips and recommendations to get you back to sleep!
To summarise, they are:
- Improve your sleep hygiene
- Change your sleeping position
- Therapy for insomnia - Click here to get started now
- Use a humidifer - Click here for a relaxing night's sleep
- Enroll in a class
- Make your room comfortable
- Avoid prescription sleeping pills and over-the-counter supplements
- See your doctor
And if you need any more support, Ask Doctor Jad is here for you too.