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9 tips for insomnia during pregnancy

In the evening, you cannot fall asleep, therefore you are not able to regain your energy and strength. Your growing tummy starts to bother you, it is stuffy, uncomfortable, you are tired of your heartburn, you get cramps. We will help you. Find out tips to beat insomnia during pregnancy. Apply them and relax for the benefit of yourself and your baby.
Edited by LOVI, consultation: Paweł Palacz gynecologist, obstetrician | 24 June 2015
CONSULTATION
Paweł Palacz M.D. 

gynecologist, obstetrician

Sleep during pregnancy is of utmost importance. It allows a pregnant woman to rest, restore her energy and strength, wake up in a good mood and positive attitude towards to the world and the future. When asleep blood pressure decreases and muscles are resting, resulting in a noticeable reduction of tension and pain. The mind also rests, and this is important because lack of sleep can contribute to depressed mood or aggravate depression.

The amount of sleep required for regeneration is an individual matter. Your needs in that respect will also vary in subsequent months of your pregnancy, along with changes in your body. Generally, sleep should last from seven to nine hours. During the first trimester, however, excessive daytime sleepiness may be one of the symptoms of pregnancy, and in the third trimester you may need much more sleep. The feeling of fatigue is then natural, and significant changes in the mother's body and its efforts need to be regenerated with rest.

Unfortunately, sleeping at night during pregnancy is not always easy and pleasant. You are tired of your heartburn, get up to go the toilet to urinate. No matter what position you take, it is still uncomfortable. Moreover, you have thoughts and anxieties about the future, which seem to like evening hours to visit your mind.

Sometimes it is not easy…Yet now you sleep not only for yourself. Your state of mind and body affects the child you carry in your womb. That is why it is worth doing all you can to be able to fall into Morpheus’s arms without any major problem and with a smile on your face every evening.

  1. Relax

A lot depends on what is on your mind. If you are worked up, upset, have too many negative thoughts on your mind,  it will be very difficult for you to fall asleep. And even if you have managed to do, it will not be a restful and relaxing sleep.

Therefore you should do all you can to relax before going to bed.

Do not watch engaging TV programmes, avoid horror movies and dramas, particularly those with children in the lead roles. Choose easy and pleasant books to read in bed. Make a decision with your partner that no matter what happens the evening is not the right time to for serious discussions, or, indeed, arguments. You yourself also need to be careful to try not to think about bad things and not to worry about the future. When you start thinking those thoughts, do something else not to delve into them deeper.

Taking a walk before going to bed will do you good. If this is not possible, stand close to an open window and take a few deep and slow breaths in and out. A body filled with oxygen will relax easier and feel the need for sleep.

  1. As you make your bed, so must you lie in it

There is much truth in this proverb, therefore it is worth investing in a good mattress and get a few small bed pillows and/or one long pillow.

The mattress should be fairly firm, yet bouncy enough to accommodate to your body’s curves and not to fail to support extra kilograms. The ideal mattress, while supporting the spine in a straight line in a position where the body lies on its side, is to bend under the shoulders and buttocks.

The pillows will be useful to put under your head, stomach and right leg. It is worth placing the pillows so that you can raise your upper body so that you can reduce the discomfort of your heartburn. When you are lying on a flat surface it is easier for the content of your stomach to flow back into the oesophagus. In the advanced stage of your pregnancy you will feel more comfortable if you support your belly with a pillow and place another one between your legs at the knees.

The duvet that you use to cover up for the night should be made of breathable materials, suitable for the season and temperature and lightweight. A duvet that is warm and heavy will significantly reduce the chances of a good night's sleep, so will a too lightweight one, which will force you or your partner to find an additional blanket at night time.
 

  1. Sleeping position

In the first trimester it is not yet a problem, but most women when they find out they are pregnant avoids lying on their stomach. In the second, and especially the third trimester, you must avoid sleeping on your stomach, and sleeping on your back may lead to obstruction of the inferior vena cava by the ever-growing uterus, which adversely affects the blood circulation in the lower parts of the female body and the supply the foetus with oxygen.

Probably the most comfortable sleeping position for a women with a prominent pregnancy belly is to lie on the left side with pillows placed under her stomach and right leg. The side of the body is not irrelevant, as due to better blood circulation pregnant women are recommended to sleep on their left side, the side where the heart is. Then the blood flows effortlessly to the placenta, supplying the foetus with nutrients and substances necessary for its proper development. This position of the body is also beneficial to the kidney function, reducing the swelling of the feet and hands.
 

  1. Room comfort

The temperature of the room where you sleep should not be higher than 20°C. It is important that you ventilate your bedroom. If it is winter, open the window wide open and leave the room for a while. At more convenient temperatures leave the window half open or open overnight. Ensuring supply of fresh air and, if possible, cold air is important, especially in the third trimester, when you may experience attacks of breathlessness and a feeling of shortness of breath.

Ensure that you sleep in a quiet room with appropriate shading. However, if, so far, you have been falling asleep while listening to a quiet and peaceful music or with a gently glowing night light, you should not give it up. The most important thing is that you ensure for yourself the conditions that will be soothing for you and help you fall asleep.
 

  1. Neither on an empty nor a full stomach

You should eat your meal at least two hours before going to bed, unless you have gestational diabetes. Avoid foods that are heavy to digest as they can make it difficult for you to fall asleep and have a restful sleep later. For your dinner you should choose foods that contain complex carbohydrates and protein, provide you with a feeling of fullness but will not be heavy on your stomach.

The time of your meal and selection of foods consumed at dinner are also important because of the problem of your heartburn. Therefore, you should avoid hot spices, fried food and citrus juices. Some future mums find almonds helpful for that condition, so you should keep several of them in a bowl placed on your night table.

Try not to drink liquids at night. In pregnant women the uterus is enlarged causing pressure on their bladder and reducing its space, and better blood circulation is beneficial for effective kidney function. Therefore, frequent urination during pregnancy is the physiological norm. Unfortunately, it can be very cumbersome. The only thing you can do about it is to limit the volume of liquids drunk before going to bed. If you follow this rule you may need to get up and go to the toilet at night only two times rather than five times.
 

  1. Avoid the use of stimulants

Fortunately, knowledge about the detrimental effect of alcohol, nicotine or narcotic drugs on the developing foetus has become more widespread. It is clear, that a conscious mum who cares for the welfare of her child will not use them.

This leaves you with coffee, which in small quantities is allowed in pregnancy, especially for mums who have been drinking large amounts of it before. However, if you have problems with your sleep you should give it up not to stimulate your nervous system with caffeine.

You should remember that not only active smoking is harmful to your baby and you. While staying in smoky rooms you also inhale tar and toxic compounds. This is not beneficial for the foetus and can cause problems with your sleep.
 

  1. Find your rhythm

Listen to your body. Some women appreciate taking naps during the day as a form of quick regeneration of their energy.  However, in others they cause disturbed sleep at night. You yourself need to find out what is best for you.

Whenever you can, you should go to ben when you feel sleepy. In the morning, let yourself wake up without an alarm clock, when your body lets you know that it has rested.

If, however, you cannot fall asleep, your keeping counting sheep will not be effective. It is much better that you get up and do something that will allow you to relax and restore your mental balance.

Sometimes, it is helpful to follow evening rituals. Here, too, it is you yourself who need to choose the best one for yourself. Perhaps you like taking hot baths, and maybe you love drinking cocoa or milk with honey. Reading a good book before going to sleep and drinking a cup of melissa herbal tea put many a prospective mum in the right mood for sleeping.
 

  1. Defeat leg cramps

Calf cramps are a nightmare for many a pregnant woman. Before talking to your doctor about supplementing your diet, start eating healthy foods ensuring that you eat foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. You should eat bananas, nuts, almonds, dairy products and legumes.

Appropriately prepare your yourself for the night ahead. Before going to bed, wash your calves under a shower alternating with hot and cold water and massage them. This will improve blood circulation and supply more oxygen to the muscles.

If you have a cramp at night, rub the sore calf while moving the toes.
 

  1. Talk to your doctor

In general, hypnotics or sedatives are not recommended during pregnancy, however, it all depends on the individual case.

If your sleep disorder are serious and permanent, if you feel tired and weak, are in a depressed mood, you should talk to your doctor. Your doctor and you will try to find the cause for your insomnia. Perhaps you will find that you should seek further assistance elsewhere, with a psychologist or a psychiatrist, if your anxieties or racing thoughts do not allow you to fall asleep. Sometimes the problem is caused by digestion or cardiac dysfunction, which also requires a diagnosis by a consultant.

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