Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Insomnia

Is pregnancy insomnia hitting you hard? Not being able to get the rest you need, especially while pregnant, can affect your whole day. If this is a problem for you, check out these natural and safe remedies for pregnancy insomnia.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is characterized by having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, waking too early and feeling unrested. It’s totally normal to have insomnia once in a while or even more frequently when something big is going on in your life (like, um, having a baby!) but if you’re experiencing trouble sleeping often (at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or longer) it could be chronic insomnia.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping before getting pregnant you may want to optimize your general sleep first with these sleep tips.

Why do we get pregnancy insomnia?

Hormones are typically the culprit as is true for other pregnancy related issues like pregnancy acne, constipation, and other strange pregnancy ailments. Changing hormones can cause snoring, frequent bathroom trips, heartburn and congestion which can make it difficult to sleep.

One reason may be that you’re waking up more often to use the bathroom, so you have more chances throughout the night to have trouble getting back to sleep.

It may also be a comfort issue. Its tough sleeping with a big ol’ belly, especially if you’re typically a tummy or back sleeper. When you finally find a sweet spot it’s hard to fall asleep before that position gets uncomfortable again. Baby sometimes takes these awake times to get some exercise, which can make it more difficult to sleep too.

For some women, especially first time moms, pregnancy and birth anxiety can keep you up as well.

Natural remedies for pregnancy insomnia

Mama’s gotta get her sleep! Here are some tips for optimizing your pregnancy sleep naturally.

Exercise

Getting enough exercise during pregnancy is important for a healthy pregnancy and can help make labor easier and your baby smarter (oh my!), but exercise can also improve your sleep! Our bodies are designed to move, not sit at a desk all day so find ways to get more activity throughout your day (Start with taking a short and brisk walk during your lunch break.)

If you work your body each day, you’ll be physically tired and more apt to sleep at night. A good goal is to work up to at least an hour of physical activity to prepare you for a good night’s rest.

Low impact exercise, like walking and swimming, is great during pregnancy, especially if you can combine it with the outdoor elements like fresh air and sunshine.

It’s best to exercise in the morning or early afternoon as some sensitive mamas get an adrenaline rush from working out too close to bedtime.

To nap or not to nap?

The short answer is: it depends. If napping works for you, do it. If not, don’t. But how can you tell? Well, first remember that pregnancy puts a lot of stress on your body and napping is necessary for many women to get through the first trimester, or the whole pregnancy! However, if you aren’t able to sleep at night, your napping may have something to do with it. Try limiting your nap to 20 minutes. Anything longer may be upsetting your sleep rhythm. If you find that even a short nap makes it hard to sleep at night, then eliminate it and go to bed earlier in the evening.

Meals

Of course you know that you should be eating a healthy, real food diet, especially during pregnancy. Choose pastured meat and poultry, wild caught (low mercury) fish, organic fruits and vegetables and healthy fats (find out more about the best prenatal diet). Choose a whole food prenatal vitamin. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, and magnesium  in particular (since most of us are deficient) as they have been shown in studies to support healthy sleep.

Not only is what you eat important but also when you eat, especially as it pertains to your sleep! Avoid eating a large meal before bed as this can lead to indigestion and heartburn, which can keep you up. However, eating a small, easy to digest and blood-sugar-balancing snack (like gelatin treats) an hour before bed may help improve your sleep.

Limiting caffeine during pregnancy is a good idea but many women find that avoiding all caffeine after lunch time is essential for good sleep. That includes chocolate too!

Sleep positions

Because getting comfy may be the hardest part of sleeping while pregnant, finding a good sleep position is huge to fight pregnancy insomnia. You’ll want to find a safe pregnancy sleep position, which means sleeping on your back in the last trimester is probably out. Side sleeping is optimal but can be hard on the hips. Grab as many pillows as possible to support your legs, back, arm and head to make side sleeping more comfortable. Or you can grab one of these guys instead.

Avoid blue light at night

Once the sun goes down, turn off the TV, put away the iPhone and get off the computer. As hard as this can be, it will make a HUGE difference is your sleep quality! (Find out how I avoid blue light at night).

Electronics emit blue light, like the light from the sun, and signals our bodies that it’s time to be awake. It stimulates cortisol and interrupts melatonin production, the hormone that tells our bodies it’s time for sleep. If this sounds impossible, wear these weird orange glasses instead. Also, use lamps instead of overhead lights at nightfall… or even better, candles!

Turn down the heat, lower the A/C or open a window

Our bodies are designed to sleep best in a cooler room, somewhere around 65 degrees. If it’s too warm or we are wrapped up in too many blankets we can become restless and wake up. The cooler temperature also signals our bodies that it’s time to go to sleep.

Relaxation techniques

Not only is relaxation important for a healthy pregnancy but it can also help with labor, so getting some relaxation techniques under your belt now can only help!

Yoga or light stretching are excellent ways to prepare your body for sleep and fight pregnancy insomnia. Simple poses like child’s pose and lotus pose can help relax your body and mind before bed.

Stretching and deep breathing before bedtime is a great way to release tense muscles and even reduce swelling to avoid tossing and turning trying to get comfortable. You can also calm your mind and spirit with positive pregnancy affirmations! Meditation, prayer also and guided imagery are other ways you can relax before bedtime.

Reduce bathroom trip wakefulness

Since getting up for the bathroom can make it harder to fall back asleep, we want to reduce occurrences or avoid if possible. Drink your fluids earlier in the day and avoid drinking more than a cup or so of fluid in the hours leading to bed. If nature still calls (which happens as your bladder gets smaller from baby compressing it!) get out of bed right away, use the bathroom, and get back to bed as quickly as possible. You can use relaxation techniques to ease back to sleep and keep your brain from “turning on”.

Is it your bed?

If you’re waking up sore every morning it may be more than pregnancy insomnia. Maybe your mattress is to blame. Many mattresses just don’t hold their shape longer than a few years and off-gas hormone disrupting chemicals (the last thing you want when you’re pregnant!). If you think it’s time for a new mattress find out which eco-friendly mattresses are the real deal, and which one we chose.

Tart cherry juice

In studies, tart cherry juice increased sleep time by up to 90 minutes a night! That’s because it contains the world’s highest melatonin content of any food (the hormone that helps us sleep.) Try 1 ounces of this tart concentrate twice a day (one dose around 3 p.m. and the other dose around 8 p.m.) mixed in kefir or yogurt for extra calcium and blood sugar balance. I usually find it works within a week or two. As a plus, tart cherry juice has a low glycemic index and is high in antioxidants so it’s healthy during pregnancy.

Magnesium supplementation

Many of us (some say over 80% of the population) is deficient in this calming and important mineral. Here are the deficiency symptoms (hint: one of them is insomnia!) and here’s how you can boost your levels with food. Most of us also need a little supplementation too and in this post, I talk about the best magnesium supplement for specific issues. As a general guideline, try taking 200-400 mg of this magnesium supplement for relaxation. (Of course, talk with midwife!)

Hang in there!

If after trying all of these remedies, you still are struggling with sleep, take heart that it will pass. And, some say that it will prepare you for your fractured sleep once baby arrives. You’ll be able to sleep again when the child is around 5 😉

How about you?

Did you struggle with pregnancy insomnia? What helped you sleep the most? Share with us!

References

  • https://sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/content/what-is-insomnia
  • http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/trouble-sleeping-some-bedtime-snacks-can-help-you-sleep
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3317043/

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 75,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

Learn to have an amazing birth

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14 Comments

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  1. Hi I am mom of three and had experience little bit of insominia with my first two but condition changes with my third one. I was facing severe insominia .

    I visited my doctor and she exclude all other possible causes of insomnia except that it is pregnancy related. So after reading this and so many other posts I decided to try a herbal supplement for my insominia so I order one from here and I feel much better https://www.herbalbless.com/collections/sleep-disturbance-insomnia

  2. Wow, this is a really useful article because I am pregnant and I can not sleep well at night so I am very tired and worried. I will follow the instructions and hope that I can sleep well at night. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • When I got insomnia, I simply use the method I found here >> ( go2l.ink/insomnia )
      And it’s always works like a charm. I had been using zolpidem, eszopiclone, etc but none of them are able to give me restful sleep, This product given me peaceful life till today.

  3. As a pregnant mama and yoga instructor, I would certainly not recommend locust pose for pregnant women. This pose requires the practitioner to lay on their belly while lifting their legs and reaching their arms up and back… clearly too much pressure for a pregnant belly and could lead to complications. I would not recommend plank either, for pregnancy or insomnia in general. Wide-legged child’s pose, warrior poses, cat/cow and malasana (low squat) are good poses. Some yoga poses can actually be dangerous for pregnant women, and it’s not to make a recommendation unless you have training in prenatal yoga.

    • Oh my goodness! Thank you so much Krista for bringing this to my attention. It was supposed to read LOTUS post not locust pose! I took out plank too as this isn’t a very relaxing pose 🙂 I so appreciate you leaving this comment!

  4. I was surprised that lavender essential oil was not included here, regarding sleep assistance. Depending upon your ob/midwife’s permission based on your history and phase of pregnancy, lavender continues to prove to be helpful when it is certified pure therapeutic grade, such as from doterra. It always helps me immensely when coming from a diffuser by the bed, rubbed onto my sheets and pillows, or diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed onto my feet!

  5. Well, I am in my second trimester, at the beginning I got a bad cold and didn’t end up sleeping for a whole night, followed by nights of not sleeping, and by that I mean some nights I didn’t get 1 minute of sleep.

    Yesterday was one of the few nights this month where I slept all night, tonight I lie awake.

    I am sad and exhausted and I just dont know what to do.

    • I am in the same boat right now. I dread bedtime and I dread daytime, and I’m just soooo tired. I can’t sleep at all. Did anything help?

  6. I try to follow all of these recommendations (except for cherry juice- will have to try that!) and they seem to work well. The biggest difference I noticed was magnesium. I tried several brands of capsules and powders- including your recommended one m- but didn’t notice a difference. Then I tried a topical spray and felt sleepy within 10 minutes! Love that stuff. So if anyone else is not getting results with pills- may be worth trying the sprays. I’ve used Ancient Minerals and Ease, both seem to work.

  7. Natural remedies are helping to increase the body health without any side effects also with holistic cure .

  8. the first two months were terrible regarding sleep, i was waking up more than 10 time each night and if i was sleeping i have had lucid dreams, basically i was exhausted 24/7. i started applying magnesium oil on my back before sleeping, to relieve constipation, and not only i became regular i also started having good, deep sleeps at night. since then magnesium oil became my BBF + it is so easy and cheap to make. PS: i was taking Magnesium Citrate supplement before the oil but i felt no difference, absolutely no benefits

  9. Great tips!
    This is what I’m looking for my pregnancy insomnia

  10. I struggled with insomnia for the first several months of my pregnancy and asked my midwife what to do. She suggested taking a magnesium supplement (food-based) and it has made the biggest difference in how much I sleep and the quality. Reducing sugar intake also helped (magnesium is used up quickly in sugar metabolism).

  11. I love naps even when I’m not pregnant. My daughter is ten months old and we still enjoy an afternoon nap together after lunch. We both wake refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.

    One interesting thing I have noticed is that I used to take my naps with a sleep mask and the curtains closed, but I’d wake up groggy and having this feeling like I got knocked under by a wave and the beach and took in too much water. Now I leave the curtains open and sleep without the mask and I feel so much better.

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