So I mentioned that I have been having some pregnancy related sleep issues when I began my It’s Complicated with: Sleep series (posts 1 and 2, and Crafting a Nighttime Routine for Adults). I’m now 28 weeks pregnant and FINALLY sleeping well. With this momentous occasion, I thought I would update you and fill you in on some tricks that are helping me beyond what I wrote in those other posts.
Since my 20th week of pregnancy, I stopped sleeping well. Some nights I struggled to fall asleep, but mostly I was just waking up every dang night around 1-3 AM and it taking up to 2 hours to fall back asleep…or some nights, I wouldn’t go back to sleep at all. The nights I did “sleep” involved 4-7 trips to the bathroom, despite not drinking anything for hours before my bedtime.
This interupted sleep every night was giving me migraines (at least) weekly! With my migraines, I get an aura, which basically makes me blind for 30-60 minutes and sometimes, the aura would repeat itself. Simply put: a parent’s worst nightmare with two small kids. This issue was what inspired this sleep series.
After writing the bedtime routine post, I committed to making my own routine and sticking to it. About two nights after being strict about a bedtime routine, I found I was falling sleeping much better, but I still was waking up in the middle of the night. When I went to Maui in April with Sam, I only slept two full nights–thanks to Ambien. I would fall asleep great and then wake up and be alert. I even took melatonin in the middle of the night a few times with the hope that I would return to sleep, and nothing. Still wide awake…for hours. It was miserable.
When I came back to the mainland, my nurse midwife asked me the last time I remember sleeping well in the pregnancy and with a little deduction, we realized it was when I was taking an anti-nausea medication for pregnant women called Diclegis (which I stopped taking at 19 weeks). Diclegis, my midwife reminded me, is basically part Unisom and part vitamin B. “Just take Unisom nightly until this pregnancy is done,” she told me. I don’t know why I didn’t want to do it, but I didn’t. I mean, Unisom is better than Ambien! Somehow, her telling me to just do it made it feel like an acceptable thing I should do. This midwife also gave me some other helpful hints that I thought I would pass on to y’all. PS-I’ve slept well every night since! And no migraines in 3 weeks. WAHOOO!!
If you’re struggling to fall to sleep
- Magnesium can have a calming effect on the nerves and aid in relaxation, but it must be done with your health provider’s guidance. Did you know there are 6+ types of magnesium that all have different absorption rates and benefits? I didn’t, but after doing a little research, I found a much better magnesium for my migraine prevention–magnesium l-threonate.
- Magnesium may also assist with leg cramps or restless legs.
- Craft a nighttime routine and stick to it!
- Check out the rest of my suggestions here.
If peeing constantly is interrupting your sleep
- Don’t drink within 4 hours of going to bed.
- Lie down for the final hour before you plan to sleep. This time gives the body a chance to reabsorb the fluid that has most likely pooled in your extremities. “Fluid that accumulates in the legs during the daytime may move to the kidneys, and then out into urine, at night.” source
- Wear support hose. I have yet to try this, but as I still have 12 weeks left, I just might. The swelling and peeing is only going to get worse!
- “If you experience swelling in your feet or legs, you’ll probably wake more often overnight to urinate…To help with this issue, exercise and wear support hose to try to get that fluid processed before bedtime.” source
- And if you’re curious WHY you have swelling in pregnancy…
- “During pregnancy, you have extra blood volume throughout your body. Eight out of ten women have clinical edema (swelling) at some point during their pregnancy. You are carrying around an additional six to eight liters of water. No wonder you feel like a two gallon water balloon. The swelling may seem worse in your feet and ankles because your growing uterus puts pressure on the blood vessels in your pelvis. Your inferior vena cava is the largest vein in your body and carries blood from your legs back to your heart. When it is compressed by your growing uterus, the blood flow slows down and pools in your legs.” source
If you’re struggling to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night
- MY opinion is that if you’ve got 5+ hours of sleep time left, it’s not too late to take a sleep-aid if you’ve been laying in bed for 20 minutes trying to fall back asleep. I’d rather be groggy when I wake up than sleep-deprived.
- Try searching for and listening to a “sleep meditation” track on Youtube. Make sure to turn off the “auto-play” setting. If your spouse will be bothered, keep a pair of ear buds near your bed and plug in the one ear that you’re not sleeping on–assuming you’re sleeping on your side.
- Write down anything you’re thinking about on a pad of paper that you’ve got on your end table. Sometimes the least consequential things will continuously run through my brain and I cannot stop thinking about them until I write them down.
- Close your dominant eye and keep all lights off. This is from a reader and I think it’s worth a try! “Keeping [your] dominant eye closed can help you go back to sleep if you can get comfortable again – and if you don’t turn on any lights. No idea how this works, but there is science behind it.”
If you can’t get comfortable during sleep
- Invest in a pregnancy pillow. These things make life so much better if you’re waking up often and don’t want to rearrange all 4 pillows after every toilet break. I’ve been borrowing my sister’s and I believe this is it, although this is the one I’d want if I was going to purchase one for myself as you don’t have to flip it if you roll over.
- Try sleeping with a belly support band. If the weight of your abdomen is just too much–even while laying down–the band will help you feel more supported. I’ve got this one, and it can be worn any time of the day. It helped me walk/run in a 10k around week 24.
- Ask for a massage every. night. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, some light back/leg/arm rubbing can seriously relax you and release any tension you might be holding, allowing you to be more comfortable…if only for a few minutes!
- Feeling hot? Turn the thermostat down low and apply properly diluted peppermint oil to the back of your neck and your chest to offer some cooling relief.
- Hips hurting? Make sure you’re gently exercising them as much as possible. Here’s a favorite prenatal yoga Youtube playlist. Furthermore, consider visiting a trusted, recommended chiropractor for monthly visits. This has helped me so much with sciatica issues during this pregnancy, compared with my others.
That’s all I’ve got, for today! I don’t have any solutions for any major medical issues caused by pregnancy that might be affecting your sleep, because I’m obviously not qualified and luckily am not suffering from anything major. I might just do a final update to this post when baby is here in late July. If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading!