Strategies for Sleep Success
As you move through the weeks of pregnancy, you are likely to find yourself suffering from insomnia. While it’s true that soon you will be waking up with your baby throughout the night, it’s nice to get sleep while you still can. Difficulty sleeping can be addressed with acupuncture and herbal medicine but there are also some simple things you can do for yourself to help address this issue. Remember, if you are going to take herbs during pregnancy, make sure to consult with a knowledgeable practitioner first.
Proper sleep posture can do a lot to alleviate sleeplessness and body pain. As your pregnancy progresses, sleeping on your back can cause your growing uterus to compress your blood vessels, interfering with blood flow and leaving you with a feeling of breathlessness or vague discomfort. Since sleeping on your belly is out for obvious reasons, getting comfortable on your side is important. You can use a couple of regular pillows or one long body pillow for support. Place one of the pillows between your knees and hug the other pillow. You can also sleep with your bottom leg straightened out and place the first pillow under the bent knee of your top leg. Switch sides throughout the night to avoid compressing your bottom hip. You might also find it helpful to wedge a folded towel under your growing belly as you get further along.
Make sure to keep yourself well-fed. Eat healthy foods at regular intervals. Have a snack close to bedtime or when you find yourself awake late at night. Something light, like cereal, can often help you fall back to sleep. Remember that your calorie requirements are higher in pregnancy and that you may be happier eating multiple small meals through the day. It’s not unusual for your body to wake you at night up for a snack. It could even help allay morning sickness–one of the tricks to fighting nausea in pregnancy is to keep your stomach from ever being completely empty.
Go to bed at the same time every night. Give yourself some time to unwind. Turn off all electronic equipment, especially the TV and computer, about a half hour to an hour before bedtime. Try meditation, yoga, tai chi or qi gong to practice relaxation. Make sure to get plenty of exercise. The optimal time for these activities varies per person, so try doing them at different times of the day if you’re experiencing sleep difficulties.
Remember that you’re not the only pregnant woman out there who can’t sleep. Combined with the fatigue of early and late (and for some of us middle too!) pregnancy, this can affect other areas of your life. If you find yourself struggling to cope, or if you’d like to treat yourself to some rejuvenating relaxation, go see your acupuncturist.