Insomnia during pregnancy – what to do about it
So I’ve been told many a time that I’ll have plenty of sleepless nights once baby arrives. However, what I hadn’t contemplated was the broken sleep before the imminent arrival. That’s right, I’m talking about insomnia during pregnancy.
Now, I don’t want to be overly dramatic. I’m not a walking zombie and I do get some good sleep on the odd night. But it is remarkably reduced from my previous well-earned eight hours.
My larger bump stops me from turning with ease. Loo breaks are more frequent. And if that isn’t enough, the recent heatwave got me all hot and bothered.
However I have found some solace through some advice and trusty aids. And if like me, you’re suffering with insomnia during pregnancy, you may want to take heed.
Tips to manage insomnia during pregnancy
Pregnancy insomnia buster #1 – Pile upon a pregnancy pillow
These nifty yet basic tools really are a pregnant lady’s best friend. They commonly come in two shapes, a v-shape and a longer sausage shape. I’m lucky to have both.
I was gifted the v-shape pillow by my sister-in-law. I wasn’t sure how much I’d need it first but it’s been brilliant and multifunctional. The ‘v’ part basically goes between your knees while you sleep, so you feel less squashed up. But it also doubles up as a backrest whilst I’m working. In fact, my very not-pregnant sister used it when she stayed over while she was working on her laptop.
The sausage shape pillow was sent from DreamGenii, which specialises in – you guessed it – pillows to help you sleep better. And oh my, this has become my pillow of choice. It softly spoons you, helping as gravity forces your belly sideways. Then it curves underneath and suppers your back. The latter is pretty crucial as it stops you from rolling onto your back, which is the worst sleep position for a pregnant lady (when on your back, the weight of your uterus can compress a major blood vessel, leading to further problems). The back support is something the v-shaped pillow doesn’t offer, so props to the DreamGenii.
The one thing I would say is that it’s a bit more of a fiddle turning around and getting in and out of bed when you’re surrounded by pillow. But for the comfort, it’s a small price to pay. In fact, at times I’ve tried to be a big girl and sleep without the DreamGenii pillow, only to find myself reaching for it in the middle of the night.
Retailing at around £36, the DreamGenii isn’t the cheapest of pillows, but it does offer more comfort than stacking regular pillows and it also holds firm its shape. After all the squashing it’s had from me, it hasn’t gone flat.
Also, both the DreamGenii and the v-shaped pillow are investment pieces. They can be used during breastfeeding after baby arrives, and it’s great for being extra comfy on the sofa. Hubby has even benefitted from it (sometimes he thinks he’s the pregnant one).
Pregnancy insomnia buster #2 – Napping
Now one of the little adjustments I had to make was napping during the daytime, or essentially whenever I can get some cheeky zzz. This was a learning curve as I have never had daytime naps in my life! However, with significantly reduced sleep at night-time, I’ve learnt to catch some shut eye when I can.
So whether it’s 40 winks after work, or an afternoon snooze during the weekend, grabbing sleep where I can to keep myself topped up has been hugely helpful. Plus it’s good practice for the sporadic sleep that’s to come.
Pregnancy insomnia buster #3 – Fan heaters
Now when my husband brought home the Dyson Pure Hot and Cool fan heater I thought it was just another boy’s toy gadget. But given the recent heatwave, and the fact that I’m like a walking boiler, it’s proven to be a cool relief. With its hot and cool function (note: I’ve not even needed to go near the hot option yet), moving head and air-con-without-the-air-con feel, it’s redeemed itself from the expensive gadget I thought it was.
The fact that it’s pretty is a bonus. Plus the remote control also helps my lazy-ass self. Oh, and it’s apparently got air purifying credentials. Which of course is helpful when you live in very polluted central London.
Pregnancy insomnia buster #4 – Winding down
In a moment of frustration I did ask my GP what to do about the lack of sleep. However, I knew the answer would be not a lot. It’s just something that happens with pregnancy. But the one takeaway that was useful was the concept of winding down in the evening and getting myself well rested before bed.
So if you’re anything like me, thinking 100 thoughts a minute, take a chill in the evening. So switch off the news (I’ve found the news particularly horrible of late), shot down your laptop and put down your phone. It might all sound a bit zen, but getting my mind and body ready for bed has somewhat helped my disturbed sleep.
Pregnancy insomnia buster #5 – making the most of the good night’s sleep
So you may try ALL of the above, and still find yourself awake at 3am on a warm night. Don’t fret, it happens. Despite my tools and aids, I still suffer the odd night’s difficult sleep. It’s part and parcel of pregnancy. And like my GP said, there isn’t really a magic bullet solution. But the thing I have noticed is that I never have two sleepless nights in a row. Quite simply, at some point my body gives in and enforces sleep. So similar to my earlier point, enjoy the nights where you do get a good sleep. Give yourself an early night. And take heart, insomnia during pregnancy is just that, it won’t last forever. So rest assured it’ll soon be replaced by sleepless night’s for another reason!
Of course, this isn’t medical advice, it’s just what has helped me. If you think you have a serious sleep disorder, you should consult your medical practitioner.
If you’ve suffered with insomnia during pregnancy, or just insomnia, what has worked for you? Share your tips in a comment below.
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About the Author
I’m not a makeup artist, chef, lifestyle guru or stylist. I’m just me. And like you, I’m trying to make the best of most things, only I’m sharing my warts-and-all thoughts along the way.