As most women know, getting pregnant changes one’s daily life in a variety of ways. From dietary restrictions, to morning sickness, to nagging back pain, all these sudden changes can be overwhelming at times. One of the more disruptive side-effects of pregnancy, for example, is occasional insomnia. Although not all women will experience bouts of sleeplessness during their pregnancy, insomnia remains quite common. In fact, according to recent studies, close to 8 out of 10 women will experience insomnia during their pregnancy.


In this week’s article, we’re going to explore both the cause of and potential solution for pregnancy-related insomnia. We hope this will help you catch up on that much-needed rest. Take a look.


What causes insomnia?


There’s no single underlying source for the onset of insomnia. Insomnia can be caused by a variety of factors: from emotional stress and anxiety, to physical discomfort, to a range of physiological and psychological conditions. In the case of pregnancy, however, the causes appear a little more specific.


Women might find themselves experiencing stress and anxiety over the arrival of the new baby or other stresses associated with impending parenthood. At the same time, the physical side-effects of pregnancy - such as back pain, nausea, an increased need to urinate, and so on - can also lead to sleeplessness and occasional insomnia. Whatever the cause, there are some things you can do to try and improve your sleep and reduce the impact of sleep-deprivation.


What can I do?


1) Although it’s certainly easier said than done, try not to fret too much about getting to sleep at night. When sleeplessness strikes, many people find themselves worrying about whether they’ll get enough rest and be able to work in the morning. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking causes anxiety, which contributes to your insomnia. It’s a vicious circle, of sorts.


Instead, focus on your breathing and relax yourself. Concentrate on breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, and try to remove all thoughts from your mind. Visualise a relaxing environment or place and imagine you’re there. Soon enough, you should begin drifting off into a calm sleep.


2) This seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget at times. Avoid drinking coffee or tea after 5pm (unless it’s decaffeinated). Similarly, don’t eat your dinner too close to bed-time. Going to bed on a full stomach might interfere with your ability to sleep, as your body will be digesting the food, and have energy to burn. The same goes for large or substantial snacks before bedtime.


3) Try keep up with a regular exercise routine. Some high-intensity activities, obviously, are unsuitable for pregnant women. Low-intensity cardio like walking, swimming and using exercise bikes are a great option for pregnant women. Prenatal pilates and yoga classes taught by professionals are also a great way to keep up your fitness. Whatever type of exercise you decide on, however, it’s important that you try keep active. Exercise is one of the best natural sleeping aids out there and will also help reduce some of the other physical side-effects that might be keeping you up at night.


Here at U Mamma, in fact, we have a number of prenatal fitness classes available. These are designed specifically with the needs of pregnant women in mind. To find out what classes we offer here at U Mamma, take a look here: http://umamma.ie/classes


4) Are you getting enough vitamin b12 in your diet? Some studies have shown a link between b12 deficiency and insomnia. One of the reasons this might be is because vitamin b12 is linked to the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that helps regulate our sleep patterns. Aim to get vitamin b12 in your diet naturally, through fish, green veg, and grains. If considering a b12 supplement, discuss this with your doctor first.


5) Make sure your bedroom is kept at a comfortable temperature and that it’s properly suited for restful sleep. Is the sunlight waking you every morning? Get black-out blinds. Is the sound of the road or street or your partner’s snoring keeping you awake? Use ear-plugs or switch rooms. Is your mattress uncomfortable? Try flipping it over or consider buying a new one. Basically, eradicate any elements that might be interfering with your ability to get a quality sleep.


6) Avoid over-stimulating yourself before bed-time. There’s that old adage when it comes to good sleep hygiene: ‘keep your bed for sleeping and sex’. Try not to sit in bed watching TV or browsing the Web. Although reading can help some people relax, it can also have the opposite effect. Be cautious about what kinds of activities you do before bedtime - reading, watching TV, or using the computer - as these can get your mind working too much.


Sources:


http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/sleep-during-pregnancy/art-20043827

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/pregnancy-insomnia

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/tiredness-sleep-pregnant.aspx?tabname=Babies%20and%20toddlers#close

http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a547372/insomnia