Are you finding it more difficult to sleep now you’re pregnant? Pregnancy insomnia affects eight out of ten women, especially during the last trimester. Frequent trips to the loo, difficulty getting comfortable, anxiety and digestive troubles can all add to the problem. Sleep aids such over the counter medicine, herbal remedies and alcohol (not ideal but an often used solution) are not advised during pregnancy. So what can you do to help relieve pregnancy insomnia? I share 7 top tips to help you get some restful sleep…. until baby arrives!
- Wind down – Reduce stimulants such as caffeine and chocolate, particularly in the evening and give yourself a break from blue light by stopping screen time at least an hour before bed. Read a book or listen to calming music before you turn in. If anxiety is keeping you awake try talking through your worries before bedtime or make a list of things to do the next day. Regular exercise can help you to sleep better but avoid anything too cardio in the evenings as this is likely to have the opposite effect.
- Be pee free (to a greater degree!) – Being well hydrated is important for a good night’s sleep but to avoid increasing night time trips to the loo, which can become an issue in later pregnancy, try to get more of your water quota earlier in the day.
- Last supper – If your night time is regularly disturbed by pregnancy heartburn you may benefit from eating smaller more frequent portions, eating more slowly and eating your last meal at least a couple of hours before bedtime. Eating this way also helps to balance the hormones and transmitters which regulate sleep……
- Eat for sleep – A carbohydrate rich dinner using wholegrains can increase the production of serotonin a calming neurotransmitter. Conversely, women who eat more refined carbohydrates, like sugar, white rice and flour, are more likely to develop insomnia. These promote the release of the hormones insulin, adrenaline and cortisol, as your body attempts to correct blood sugar levels, and can interfere with sleep. To further boost your serotonin levels add poultry, dairy products, nuts, seeds, legumes, soy products, tuna and bananas to your diet as they are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid used in its production. Give these food combinations a try: chicken salad on whole wheat bread, nut butter and banana sandwich, banana and yoghurt/soy milk smoothie, prawn and egg fried brown rice, wholemeal pitta bread and hummus.
- Be cool – After conception your body heat rises slightly. Counter this by making sure your room is well ventilated and not too hot and stuffy. Sleep in the nude or choose natural fibres and non restrictive clothing.
- Get comfy – As your shape changes with pregnancy, how you sleep may need to change too. Side lying is best but you should include some support with strategically placed pillows. A pillow placed between the knees and ankles can keep the pelvis in correct alignment and reduce back pain. If you’re frequently woken by leg cramps you may be low on calcium and magnesium which are important for their calming effect on nerves and muscles. Increase these by including dairy, nuts and green leafy vegetables. For heartburn, try sleeping in a semi reclined position with plenty of pillows under your head.
- Soothe yourself to sleep – Enjoy a warm (but not too hot!) bath or massage using the beautifully scented Relax Oil, containing Lavender, Chamomile and Frankincense, to ease and soothe achy muscles, or dab on your wrists and breathe in the calming aroma to help you drift off.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com