ZZZ GET YOUR
From falling asleep with your face in the cereal bowl in the early weeks of pregnancy, to pregnancy-induced insomnia towards the third trimester, sleep during pregnancy is off kilter. Here’s what to do to help, writes Tina Otte
AFTER THE INITIAL BURST of natural lethargy that the first trimester brings, you would expect that the bigger your baby gets, the more demands are placed on your body, and that the extreme exhaustion that you feel at the end of a day would mean that when your head hits the pillow, it would be lights out for you and a night of really good sleep. Instead you have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. This occurs for all sorts of reasons. As your baby and your belly grows, your bladder gets squished and squashed and your trips to the loo become more frequent. Also, it gets harder to stay comfortable as your baby “bops” you one frequently through the night. Your baby’s sleep cycles seldom match yours! Sore joints and hot flushes don’t help your situation and thoughts of the upcoming birth and how you are ever going to be a good enough mother to this baby gives you nightmares. Just know – you’re in good company! It’s extremely rare for a pregnant woman to sleep through the night. TIPS FOR NIGHT TIME WAKING ■ CREATE A PRE-SLEEP RITUAL Perhaps this includes having a warm bath and pampering your body and your skin with lotions and sweet-smelling oils. Perhaps it’s a light shower to cool you down. Listening to soothing, gentle music may help you unwind, as will a good book (one that has nothing to do with preparing for birth or parenting). ■ CHILLAX! Your core temperature is higher when you’re pregnant, so make sure you can lower the temperature in your room. Open windows for good ventilation or use a fan. Wear pyjamas that allow your skin to breathe. And avoid hot baths! ■ USE A HUMIDIFIER Keeping the air in your room moist can decrease your sinus congestion and pregnancy snoring.
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
Some in-utero babies become more active when you eat spicy or sugary foods. If this is the case, avoid those at nighttime – otherwise your baby will put on her dancing shoes!
Stack your pillows so that your head is in the natural extension of your spine. Use pillows to support your head, tummy, hips (pillow between your knees) and back.
COMFORTING BEDTIME DRINK
Drink a cup of milk with a spoon of honey, or a turkey sandwich before bed or when hunger pangs strike in the night and you can’t get back to sleep. Milk and turkey both contain L-tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid.
Use those pillows to maintain your position in a more upright fashion.
BREATHE IN CALMNESS
If you wake up and can’t get back to sleep, focus on full breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Soften your body with each outward breath. Listen to the noises of the night and let the stillness of the night lull you back to sleep.
NO MORE SCREEN TIME
Switch off your TV at least an hour before bedtime, and stop scrolling through your phone. Research shows that the blue light from screens keeps you awake for longer.
GO TO BED EARLY…
and sleep in whenever you can.
BLOCK OUT THE LIGHT
Block-out curtains can help keep your room really dark, so when you move into arousal sleep, it will be much easier to go back to sleep if there are no outside lights bothering you!
WORKING UP A SWEAT
Avoid doing a vigorous workout before bed. This can send your body into overdrive. Try to have your exercise done before 7pm.
It works on our limbic (emotional) system and using essential oils may become part of your pre-sleep routine, either in your bathwater, on your pulse points or a dab under your nose. There are many oils that are safe to use from the second half of your pregnancy and these include, lavender, chamomile, rose blend, geranium and any of the citrus oils. Be sure to check this out with an aromatherapist first! Some of these oils can help during labour as well. Other causes of fatigue during pregnancy include anaemia, lower blood pressure and shortness of breath, poor nutrition, low iron reserves and stress and tension. Should you be suffering debilitating fatigue, please discuss this with your doctor!