How to Cope With Pregnancy Insomnia

When You're Pregnant and Can't Sleep

Pregnant woman sleeping on bed.
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Insomnia is just a fancy way of saying that you are having trouble sleeping. In pregnancy, you can have trouble falling asleep when you try to go to bed or, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you have trouble going back to sleep. Some unfortunate pregnant women suffer from both.

Since medications are not a good idea for combating insomnia in pregnancy, you need to develop a list of tools that help you without medication. Here are some tips for getting to sleep, falling asleep, or just dealing with sleeplessness in general.

Go to bed drowsy. 

Sometimes the issue is that you're going to bed wound up and not able to sleep because you are not physically or mentally ready to sleep. By entering your bed only when truly ready to sleep, you increase the likelihood of actually succeeding. To help with this, avoid caffeine after early afternoon, don't exercise vigorously past late afternoon, and don't have a heavy discussion before bed or in bed. Doing relaxation alone or with your partner can be helpful.

Try a sleep-inducing snack. 

Comfort food isn't always bad. There are some snacks that might actually be helpful in promoting sleep. Warm milk or turkey can do the trick. The key when pregnant is to not overdo it and wind up giving yourself heartburn which keeps you awake.

Warm water. 

A bath or shower can not only relax you and soothe soreness that accompanies pregnancy, but it can also help you prepare for sleep. This works before bedtime as well as in the middle of the night. For a double dose, trying reading in the tub to help clear your mind.

Reading or other mindless work. 

Reading, doing small craft projects, or even a tiny bit of mindless television can help you shut down your brain. In pregnancy, you may feel like your mind is racing with all you need to do and think about. By giving yourself a chance to shut it off, you can help prepare yourself for sleep. Avoid reading tense novels, mysteries, or scary books if that upsets you in any way. I also do not recommend pregnancy books for this time period, though baby name books seem to do well.

Get up. 

When all else fails, don't lay in bed. Get up, do something, even if it's just changing locations. Set a time limit of 30 or 60 minutes to stay in bed trying to fall asleep or get back to sleep. Fighting it can only be more frustrating. And sometimes you can be very productive in the middle of the night alone. Some say that this helps you prepare for the sleepless nights in parenting ahead.

Pregnancy insomnia is real. The kicker is that it happens when you are typically already so exhausted it's hard to fathom being tired and being unable to sleep. Some women only experience this occasionally. Be sure to talk to your practitioner at your next appointment. There are typically some things that can help that you may be overlooking that she or he can help you identify.

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