Pregnancy & Insomnia: Natural Remedies
Updated: Jan 3
Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Insomnia: Acupuncture, Massage , Exercise & Diet
Because sleep medications are usually not recommended during pregnancy, many pregnant women turn to natural remedies for sleep.
It’s also important to remember that not all natural remedies are considered safe during pregnancy. Talk with your healthcare provider about which methods to try.
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 ...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.
A study found that insomnia may raise the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth so prevention and early intervention is important. If you’ve had trouble sleeping before getting pregnant you may want to optimize your general sleep.
There are several possible causes of pregnancy insomnia, including hormonal changes, physical discomfort. and mood changes.
The Hormonal changes throughout pregnancy contribute to sleep disturbances in different ways. During the first trimester, a spike in the hormone progesterone causes: Daytime sleepiness, Urinary frequency, Nausea, Vomiting, Gastric Reflux, Back pain.
All of these new symptoms can contribute to sleep disturbances at night. An increased progesterone level can also increase the risk of sleep apnea and snoring. You might be able to sleep better during the second trimester. However, by the third trimester, sleep disturbances can return. Estrogen levels increase in the third trimester, leading to rhinitis (nasal congestion, a runny nose, and sneezing) and obstructive sleep apnea (muscles in the back of the throat relax and disrupt breathing).
A Physical reason for insomnia 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 belly and find a comfortable position, and when a sweet spot is found , it is only for a short while. it’s hard to fall asleep before that position gets uncomfortable again.
Emotional issues: For some women, especially first time moms, pregnancy and birth anxiety can keep you up as well.
Here are some tips for optimizing your pregnancy sleep naturally.
A study found that acupuncture can significantly improve sleep quality in pregnant women. This may be due to its effect on melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone naturally secreted in the body that helps us relax and fall asleep. Research shows that acupuncture can increase the serum concentration of melatonin in the body. In addition to improving sleep quality, increased melatonin levels may also benefit the baby. Melatonin crosses the placenta and plays an important role in fetal brain development.
Acupuncture is used for a variety of pregnancy-related concerns. It is generally considered safe during pregnancy for the treatment of:
Pelvic or Low-back pain
Breech Baby Presentation
Vaginal Birth After C Section
Preparation to labor
Massage therapy positively impacts stress, mood, and sleep in pregnant women. A review found that pregnant individuals who took part in a massage and relaxation program reported fewer sleep disruptions.
Melatonin is a hormone that your body makes. Its job is to help your body know when to wake up and when to go to sleep. According to a review published in the Nutrition Journal, melatonin supplementation is effective in overcoming sleep-related challenges such as jet lag and insomnia. Here’s the good news: you can find melatonin in some foods, including tart cherry juice and pistachios.
Tart Cherry is a type of cherry that retain its bright red color after being harvested. 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 ounce of this tart concentrate twice a day (one dose around 3 p.m. and the other dose around 8 p.m.) mixed in a yogurt for extra calcium and blood sugar balance. It usually 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.
Pistachios contain 660 nanograms per gram of melatonin, making these small nuts a mighty source of melatonin. Roasting the nuts doesn’t compromise the melatonin content, so grab a handful and savor this tasty treat 1-2 times per day.
Many of us (some say over 80% of the population) are deficient in this calming and important mineral. one of the magnesium deficiency symptoms is insomnia.
You may need to take some magnesium supplement for relaxation. (Of course, talk to your Doctor or midwife!)
Epsom salt: While hot baths aren’t recommended during pregnancy, you can soak in a luke-warm bath. Adding 2 cups of Epsom salt into your bathwater can help you sleep more soundly. Why? Epsom salt contains magnesium, and because magnesium helps your body produce melatonin, soaking in this bath allows your body to soak up magnesium through your skin.
Dilute one drop of cedarwood in lotion and apply it to each of big toes —Surprisingly it works! Cedarwood isn’t the only pregnancy-friendly essential oil though. Lavender and Roman chamomile can also help you sleep easier at night.
A regular exercise program may benefit those experiencing pregnancy insomnia. A review found that pregnant people who engaged in regular physical activity experienced significant improvements in their sleep quality. They also experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms. Regular exercise was especially helpful in treating pregnancy insomnia in the third trimester.
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.
While it may not be possible to prevent insomnia completely, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk. Most healthcare providers consider sleep hygiene the first-line treatment of insomnia. Sleep hygiene refers to setting up an environment that supports good sleep quality. It can improve your quality of life significantly.
Consider trying one or all of the following sleep hygiene techniques:
Keep your bedroom cool and dark, and use only a dim nightlight in the bathroom.
Remove any screens from your room and avoid looking at them before bed.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Avoid eating spicy or fried foods in the evenings. Start restricting fluids in the evening as well.
Aim to exercise for 30 minutes per day at least four to six hours before bedtime.
Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
Schedule your daytime naps for earlier in the day.
Position yourself lying on your left side with your knees and hips bent. Keep a pillow between your legs to prevent hip or low back pain.
Summary Pregnancy insomnia is a common condition during pregnancy and refers to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Pregnancy insomnia may be caused by the hormonal, physiologic, metabolic, and psychological changes during pregnancy. Regular use of sleep medication is not advised in pregnancy. natural remedies that have been proven to improve sleep quality during pregnancy are acupuncture and massage therapy.
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