Top tips for getting some shut-eye
As a soon-to-be mama, it can be pretty difficult getting your beauty sleep in, especially during your third trimester. You are definitely not the only one complaining about the poor or reduced sleep during these last three months. Here are just a handful of reasons that can cause those unnecessary dark circles and puffy eyes:
- Difficulty in finding a comfortable position with your growing belly – especially for those mamas who usually sleep on their front or back.
- Your growing baby practicing gymnastics in your uterus while you’re trying to sleep.
- A mind running a hundred miles per hour thinking about your baby, work issues, etc.
- Toilet dashes in the middle of the night due to your uterus pressing on your bladder.
Some say it’s Mother Nature’s way of giving you some practice for the disrupted nights ahead, practice does make perfect after all…
While it can be frustrating to be wide-awake and restless in the middle of the night, for the most part it is unfortunately part of the pregnancy deal. However, not all hope is lost! You can still put some good sleeping practices in place with the aim of reducing initial settling time or middle of the night re-settling time, or as some call this prep time “sleep hygiene”. Here are some top tips to help you get in a (relatively) good night’s sleep:
- Make sure your room is as dark as possible for the whole night
- Ensure the temperature in your bedroom is cool. Warm rooms encourage sleeplessness due to the fact that part of the process of falling asleep is that your body temperature slightly dips.
- Have a good bedtime routine. This means going to bed at roughly the same time each night with a pre-bed ritual of the same steps each time. This conditions your body and mind that it is time for sleep. It may involve a cup of herbal tea, soothing music, warm bath, a book, no electronics, meditation, or just some DMC (Deep Meaningful Conversation) time with your other half.
- The blue light emitted from your iPad, phone or laptop can interrupt the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Not only does it lengthen the time it takes you to fall asleep, but can even encourage waking up between sleep cycles and stall your ability to resettle down again.
- Try to be in bed by 10pm. The sleep you get before midnight is more restorative and worth more than what you get after midnight. Don’t be the one to resist your bedtime – you have your little one to fight with on this for years to come!
- Try not to think if you wake up at night (easier said then done – we know!). Tell yourself “it’s sleep time” and repeat periodically to keep your mind from waking up too much and wandering from topic to topic.
- Aim to wake up and start the day at the same time each day, and be sure to get outside in the light so your circadian rhythms are correctly set.
- Eat a balanced diet and be aware of any foods that are causing indigestion or have the power to keep you awake. You might want to skip that cup of afternoon coffee. Leave at least a couple of hours between your last meal and getting ready for bed.
- When you wake in the night, try to gently focus on breathing from your belly. Try placing one hand on your growing belly and another on your heart and breathe slowly and deeply, concentrating on your breath. Before you know it, you’ll be knocked out once again.
- Ensure your mattress is firm and comfortable. Alternatively, buy a pillow-top style mattress cover, to create more comfort. A V-shaped pillow can also come in very handy to help position you comfortably on your side.
- As soothing as a cup of camomile tea is before bed, be careful not to overdo it with fluids or you are setting yourself up for even more trips to the bathroom.
- Avoid turning lights on or getting up more than you have to. Light and movement signals to your body that it is time to be awake, so you’ll find yourself becoming fully up and alert quite easily.
- Wear non-restricting pyjamas or wear nothing at all! An oversized tee shirt is often your most comfortable option.
After all is said and done, try to just enjoy being pregnant and connecting with your growing baby. See these disruptions as part of the process and preparation for the early months of interrupted sleep with your new baby. As with anything, if there is something about sleep or positioning that is particularly worrying you, don’t hesitate to speak to your midwife or doctor.
This article was originally published on Sassy Mama Singapore April 2015 and has since been updated.