6 strategies to soothe you to sleep during pregnancy.
Most mamas-to-be know that sleep will become erratic once baby is born, but restless nights plague pregnant women too. From bulging bellies getting in the way of beloved tummy sleeping to endless bathroom trips to somersaults in the womb, pregnancy comes with a plethora of discomforts that hit right when you turn off the lights. Since good sleep contributes to a healthy pregnancy and can even help you have an easier, quicker delivery, and most meds are off-limits, it may be a good idea to turn to natural remedies to get the sleep that you deserve.
From meditation to herbal supplements to a couple changes in the bedroom, these pregnancy-safe sleep aids will help you drift off to dreamland in no time.
Break A Sweat. As long as you are healthy and your pregnancy is without complication, you can and should exercise for 30 minutes daily. Those who are physically active report getting better sleep than those who aren’t, according to a 2013 National Sleep Foundation poll. To top it off, working out while you are expecting can boost your mood and prepare you for labor and delivery. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, swimming, walking, running and aerobics are all safe during pregnancy. Breaking a sweat, however, can also rev you up. So try to finish your workout two or three hours before you tuck in.
Drop it like it’s Hot. Since the culprits in a pregnant woman’s sleepless nights can oftentimes be stress and anxiety, flower essence therapies – like the ones offered in Calm-A-Mama’s sleep drops – can be particularly effective in helping you find your Zen and catch the ZZZs you so desperately need (you are sleeping for two after all). Flower essences are a scent-free form of herbal supplement that help the body restore itself to a balanced emotional state. If you want to bust the thoughts that keep you up at night, take 2 to 4 sleep drops (whether under the tongue or in a beverage) 4 to 6 times a day. With a delicious chamomile flavor and the flower power of lemon balm, motherwort and lavender flowers, the tincture is the ultimate sleep inducer – but won’t leave you drowsy. The brand uses only ingredients that are USDA organic, non GMO and pesticide free. And while other flower essences are preserved in brandy, Calm-A-Mama sleep drops are alcohol free and safe not only for pregnant women, but also breastfeeding mamas and babies. So in a few months, when your baby won’t sleep, give that sweet little bundle a few drops and hit the snooze button.
Meditate. Many expectant mothers toss and turn simply because they have a lot to think or worry about. If you want to give your mind a break but leave your muscles out of it (aerobics can wait), meditation will do the trick. Research has shown that those who meditate tend to sleep longer and better. Even if you have a hard time sitting still, five minutes of deep breathing can do wonders. Try deep belly meditation or other prenatal relaxation techniques for better sleep tonight. On another note, massages are also a great way to wind down and, if done at home by your significant other, a good starting point to keep the fire burning throughout the pregnancy. So let your partner greet you in bed with a soft foot, hand or neck massage.
Set Yourself and Your Bedroom Up for Success. Could your bedroom be your sleep’s worst enemy? In many cases, few simple changes in the bedroom and in your bedtime rituals can mean the difference between a restless night and peaceful slumber. Start by diming the lights in the evening to keep your circadian rhythms in check. Disconnect from the World Wide Web and keep electronics out of the bedroom (or as far as possible from the bed). Reading a work email may get your mind racing, and the blue light beaming from the screens mimics daylight and will stimulate your brain. So resist the temptation to curl up in bed with your smartphone or tablet, and grab a book instead. The bedroom should also be quiet, and don’t overlook temperature: most studies agree that you need to set your thermostat to around 65 degrees for optimal sleep.
Take a Bath. Instead of counting sheep and bore yourself to sleep, relax in a nice bubble bath. A small study suggests that people who take a warm bath at night tend to not only fall asleep faster, but also sleep better. That’s because a warm, soothing soak raises your body temperature, but then results in a rapid cooling, which can lull you to sleep. In particular, baths are a great way to fight stress-induced insomnia, muscle pain and restless leg syndrome (which are all too common sleep-stealers during pregnancy). To up your chances of a good night’s sleep, take a bath an our or two before bedtime to give your body time to cool down.
Gear Up for (Maternity) Sleep. Not all maternity sleep gear can be soporific, but some of them can make you comfortable enough to find your sleeping sweet spot. Wedging a pillow between your legs can relieve back pain and can make sleeping on your side, which is recommended during pregnancy, a tad more bearable. The kind of pillow you choose depends on the kind of sleeper you are. But we like full-length or C-shaped pregnancy pillows that support your entire body. If your swollen, achy breasts make it hard to cozy up under the covers, consider wearing a maternity bra. Finally, suit up with effortless, pull-up sleepwear to make your late-night bathroom trips much easier (and shorter). Elasticized necklines will make baby’s nighttime feedings a breeze later on.
Original photography by Lori Berkowitz for Well Rounded NY.
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