Have you ever felt completely shattered, but the minute your head hits the pillow your mind becomes active and you find it a struggle to sleep?
We all know that sleep is such an essential part of every day, especially when you are pregnant, however, in one poll, 78% of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times. This can be for many reasons including physical ones such as feeling uncomfortable or baby pressing on your bladder as well as emotional ones such as anxiety about childbirth, concerns over balancing motherhood and work, or their changing relationship with their partner.
Not only can sleep deprivation makes all those pregnancy niggles seem so much worse, but recent research has shown that it can actually lead to an increase in complications for mum and baby during childbirth. So in essence you need to start thinking of getting enough sleep for 2!
So why is it harder to sleep during pregnancy?
- Your bladders capacity has reduced so making it more likely that you will need to wee during the night
- You might notice that your baby has long periods of stillness, especially if you are moving about which is like rocking them to sleep. But the minute you stop and sit still or lay down it’s like the party has just started and the baby is hitting the dance floor!
- And then there is your growing bump to contend with. In the later stages of pregnancy, I ended up with several strategically placed pillows (between knees, under bump, behind my spine) to ensure that ‘perfect’ position, i.e. the only one I was comfortable in!
- As your baby gets bigger lots of your organs are getting a bit squashed making it more likely you experience heartburn or nausea.
- With the increased pressure in your veins due to more blood flowing around your body, a shift in hormones and an increase in weight, you may experience cramps or restlessness.
- You have lots of new thoughts and challenges ahead so your mind can often be whirring when ideally you want to be sleeping.
My top 10 tips for getting a good night’s sleep
- Become aware of what you are eating and drinking before in the evening. Avoid all caffeine from 6 pm onwards. Keep drinking water as it is extremely important to stay hydrated.
- Drink a soothing bedtime drink an hour before bed such as golden milk (almond milk with turmeric and cinnamon) or herbal tea – avoid hot chocolate as the sugar and caffeine will keep you buzzing.
- Avoid spicy foods or those which you know may cause heartburn
- Take a walk in the early evening – helps with circulation, getting some fresh air, and gentle exercise.
- Avoid screens – especially checking your social media before bed – the luminosity of the screen increases the hormones that keep you awake!
- Practice calm gentle breathing, visualization and relaxation techniques. (see below)
- If you have any worries or concerns write them down in a notebook before going to sleep – that way they are out of your mind and on the paper so you are effectively letting them go.
- Create an indulgent no screens bedtime routine – have a soothing bedtime drink (see above) 20-minute warm bath whilst burning some lavender oils, 10 minutes writing down thoughts and ideas, 20 minutes reading a good book, and finish off by listening to a relaxation track
- If you wake in the night, go to the toilet then come back to bed and listen to a relaxation track or practice your own meditation or mindfulness.
- If you are still busy thinking about stuff then get your pen and paper out and write down any thoughts or concerns
A great way to help you fall asleep is to practice breathing, relaxation and distraction techniques, which allow your mind to drift, become quiet and sink into sleep. Instead of trying to plan the next day or worry about what is in the freezer for tomorrow’s tea, simply focus on your breathing and practice letting the tension in your muscles go and quietening the mind.
This is all made so easy for you by listening to a hypnosis track such as my Natal Hypnotherapy Easy to Sleep track.
This is a relatively short track that takes you slowly and gently into a deeply relaxed state. This helps to quieten your mind, focus on your breathing and relax the muscles in your body with specific suggestions about finding just the right position to be comfortable in. It then encourages you to imagine being on a beautiful beach where you are guided through an exercise to mentally let go of any worries, concerns, or discomfort which may be the reason you are struggling to sleep. The last section encourages you to become even more relaxed, even more at ease and then gently fades out leaving you in this calm relaxed, sleepy state.
Women who listen to it often do not remember hearing the last section as they have drifted off to sleep by then.
It can be used to go to sleep when they go to bed or to help them get back to sleep if they have woken in the night for whatever reason.
Want more top tips on preparing for birth? Top 20 tips
For more info go to www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk