Your Pregnancy Sleep Problems—Solved!
What sleep problems have made your nights anything but restful? Here's a look at seven common sleep issues moms-to-be encounter during pregnancy and some easy solutions to help you finally get the rest you need -- and deserve!
Sleep Problem: Leg Cramps
According to the March of Dimes, leg cramps at night are common during pregnancy due to stress on the leg muscles from carrying the extra weight and pressure from the growing baby on the nerves and blood vessels that go to your legs.
The solution? Eat bananas! When I started having horrible leg cramps on an almost nightly basis during the third trimester, this was the only thing that seemed to help. Snacking on a banana before bedtime gives your body an extra dose of potassium and magnesium, two minerals known to help prevent muscles cramps. Another bonus? These same minerals can also help bring on sleep.
Photo Credit: Amazon
Sleep Problem: Waking Up to Pee
Summoned by a 2 AM wake up call to pee, no matter what? Staying hydrated during pregnancy is important, so the trick here is not to cut down on fluids. What you cut down on is how much you actually have to wake up in order to make it safely to the bathroom and back. Before you go to bed, check the path between your bed and the toilet for anything you might trip over. Next, install a soft nightlight (like this one) in the bathroom for a welcoming glow— not a harsh light that’s going to wake you up. I did this and within days, I was stumbling back and forth in a semi-sleep walking state with ease. It all felt like a dream…
Photo Credit: Amazon
Sleep Problem: Can't Get Comfortable!
Tossing and turning and can’t fall asleep because you just can’t find a comfortable sleep position? Consider investing in a pregnancy body pillow. This one, from Snoogle, looks like a long, overstuffed C, and fits between your legs, around your belly and under your head for all over body comfort and support. Ahh… sleep at last. For a do-it-yourself alternative, buy some extra pillows of varying thicknesses and experiment with placement until you find your sweet—sleep—spot.
Photo Credit: istock
Sleep Problem: Stressful Thoughts Keeping You Up
Can you really afford to have a baby? Are you going to be a good mother? Will you ever wear your skinny jeans again? No matter what’s racing through your mind at bedtime, stressful thoughts can kick adrenaline production into gear… and make sleep next to impossible. How to keep mind and body calm when it’s time for light’s out? Incorporate relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine, say sleep experts. Yoga, positive visualizations, a warm bath or shower and a soothing glass of warm milk can help—as can journaling nightly before bed. I kept a journal during both of my pregnancies and found it worked wonders as a place to “dump” any negative thoughts keeping me up. By keeping it next to my bedside, I could also reach for it first thing in the morning to write down all those crazy pregnancy dreams!
Photo Credit: Brookstone
Sleep Problem: Snoring
Is your partner waking you up at night to tell you to stop with the chainsaw symphony? Pregnant women tend to snore more than their non-pregnant counterparts due to higher levels of estrogen during pregnancy. The hormone contributes to swelling in the mucous membranes lining the nose, which can trigger snoring. Being overweight during pregnancy can also make it more likely for a mom-to-be to snore.
What can help? I tried elevating my head at night by using an extra pillow, which did help a little bit. You can also buy special “anti-snoring” pillows, like this one from Brookstone. However, make sure you tell your doctor or midwife about any snoring, especially if you are waking up with a start after snoring. This can be a sign of an obstructed breathing problem called sleep apnea.
Photo Credit: UtterlyYours
Sleep Problem: Fear of Sleeping on Your Back
Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy helps take pressure off your back and helps to optimize blood flow to the placenta, among other benefits. As a flat-on-my-back kind of sleeper, I worried about my sleep position so much that I sewed a tennis ball into the back of the t-shirt I slept in so I would wake up princess-and-the-pea style if I accidentally flipped on my back. Luckily, an enterprising mom has come up with an alternative to my “tennis ball torture t-shirt” (what my husband called my sleep attire) with this nifty pregnancy sleep pillow that uses connected memory foam wedges to keep you in place.
Photo Credit: Amazon
Sleep Problem: Heartburn
Up all night with heartburn? Pregnancy hormones that relax the smooth muscles of the uterus to allow it to expand also relax the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach. As a result, gastric acids can seep back up and lead to the unpleasant feeling of heartburn. Your growing belly can also put pressure on your stomach, making acid reflux even more of a problem.
What’s the solution? For me, it was a cup of chamomile and peppermint tea right before bed, like this tea from Bigelow. Peppermint and chamomile are both prized traditional remedies for stomach upset, plus chamomile also does wonders for relieving stress (another trigger acid reflux) and helping you feel drowsy. I’ll drink to that!
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