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. Some say it’s Mother Nature’s way of giving you some practice for the disrupted nights ahead, practice does make perfect after all!
In case you were wondering if it’s normal, don’t worry – it is! There are many reasons why you can’t get yourself to fall (and stay) asleep, some of them being:
- Difficulty in finding a comfortable position with your growing belly. This is especially for those mamas who usually sleep on their stomachs or back.
- Your baby’s constant movements. They can be delightful when you’re awake, but disturbing when you’re trying to sleep.
- An over-active mind. Mamas (even soon-to-be ones) always seem unable to switch off and keep planning ahead for the baby, work, etc.
- Toilet dashes in the middle of the night due to your uterus pressing on your bladder.
While it can be frustrating to be wide awake and restless in the middle of the night, it is, unfortunately, part of the pregnancy deal. However, not all hope is lost! You can still put some good sleeping practices in place, which is often called “sleep hygiene”. These habits aim to reduce initial settling time or middle-of-the-night resettling time.
Habits to follow every day (even when not pregnant):
- Eat a balanced diet and be aware of any foods that are causing indigestion. Leave at least a couple of hours between your last meal and getting ready for bed. You might want to skip that cup of afternoon coffee (Sorry!).
- 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 pleasant and meaningful conversation with your other half.
- 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.
- 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 resist your bedtime – in the years to come, you will have to face plenty of this as you try to get your toddler to sleep.
- 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.
When you’re ready for bed:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. So put away those screens and keep them as far away from your bed as possible. It’s also a good practice to continue when you are a mum.
- Wear non-restricting pyjamas or wear nothing at all! An oversized tee is often your most comfortable option.
Read more: How Much Sleep Do Children Need?
What to do when you wake up:
- Try not to think if you do wake up at night, which will invariably happen. We know it’s easier said than done! If you have ever practised meditation, you will know how to keep your mind from wandering. Keep telling yourself that it’s sleep time and try to rest your mind and thoughts.
- 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.
- 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.
Perhaps the most important tip of all is just to try to enjoy being pregnant and connecting with your growing baby. See these disruptions as part of the process and as 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.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Sassy Mama Singapore in April 2015, published on Sassy Mama Hong Kong by Deborah Taylor on 27, June 2018 and further updated by Anita Balagopalan on 5, November 2019.