Feb 21, 2011 5 Comments
Between midnight bathroom runs, a racing mind, cramping legs, heartburn that’s keeping you upright, a hopped-up metabolism that’s keeping the heat on even when it’s off, and the impossibility of getting comfortable when you’re sporting a basketball in your midsection, it’s no wonder that you can’t settle in for a good night’s sleep. While this insomnia is definitely good preparation for the sleepless nights you’ll encounter as a new parent, that doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down. Try the following tips for summoning the sandman:
1. Move your body during the day. A body that’s get a workout by day will be sleepier at night. But don’t exercise too close to bedtime, since the post exercise high could keep you from crashing when your head hits the pillow.
2. Clear your mind. If you’ve been losing sleep over problem at work or at home, unload them on your spouse or a friend during the early evening so they don’t weigh you down at bedtime. If no one’s around to talk them over with, write your concerns down. Putting them on paper can be therapeutic, plus it may help you figure out some solutions. As bedtime approaches, out those worries aside, empty your head, and try thinking happy thoughts only.
3. Take your (dinner) time. Instead of wolfing your dinner down (as hungry as you are by the time it’s in front ofyou), serve up a leisurely approach to your evening meal. Eating slowly and calmly will take a bite out of nighttime heartburn and ideally keep you from tossing and turning when you turn out the light. And don’t go straight from dinner to bed, because a full tummy can leave you too energized—and too uncomfortable—to sleep.
4. Top off before you turn in. Too much food right before bed can interfere with sleep, but so can too little. To keep the midnight munchies from waking you, have a light snack as part of your bedtime routine. That old sleepy-time standard, a glass of warm milk, may be especially effective, probably because it reminds you of being tucked in with your eddy bear. You’ll get a similar soporific effect by combining any light protein with some complex carbs, so nibble on fruit and cheese or yogurt and raisins, or dunk a muffin or some oatmeal cookies in your milk.
5. Slow the flow. If frequent trips to the bathroom are standing between you and a good night’s sleep, limit fluids after 6 p.m. (just make sure you get your daily quota of fluids before then). Drink if you’re thirsty, but don’t guzzle a 16-ounces bottle of water right before bedtime.
6. Don’t get buzzed. Avoid caffeine in all its forms in the afternoon and evening (its effects can keep you buzzing for up to six hours). Ditto for sugar (especially combined with caffeine, as in chocolate), which will give you an energy boost when you least want one and then leave your blood sugar levels wobbly during the night.
7. Give yourself a bedtime routine. It’s not just for kids. The relaxing repetition of the right bedtime rituals canhelp adults settle down for a good night’s sleep, too. Easy does it, so focus n activities that slow you down after dinner, preferably practiced in a predictable order. Good options to consider adding to your routine: light reading (but nothing you can’t put down) or television (though steer clear of anything that’s violent or emotionally wrenching), soothing music, some stretching, serene yoga poses or relaxation exercises, a warm bath, a backrub, some lovemaking.
8. Get comfy. There is no such things as too many pillows when you’re pregnant. Use them to prop you up, support you where you need it, or just cozy up to. The sooner in pregnancy you learn to sleep comfortably on your side, the easier it will be for you to do it later on. Be sure, too, that your mattress is comfortable and your bedroom isn’t too hot or too cold.
9. Get some air. It’s hard to get sleepy when you’re stuffy, especially when you’re heating for two. So open a window in all but the cooler or hottest weather (when a fan or air-conditioning can help circulate the air). And don’t sleep with the covers over your head. This will decrease th oxygen and increase the carbon dioxide you breathe in, which can cause headaches.
10. Ask before you pop. While there are sleep aids that are safe for occasional pregnancy use, don’t take any sleep aid unless it’s been it’s been prescribed by your practitioner. If your practitioner has recommended that you take a magnesium supplement to combat constipation or leg cramps, it make sense to take it before bed because magnesium has natural relaxing powers.
11. Smell your way to sleep. A lavander-scented pillow that you tuck into bed with you or a dried lavender sachet slipped between the pillowcase and pillow can help relax you and bring on sleep faster
12. Save you bed for sleep (and sex). Don’t invite activities you associate with being wide awake and possibly stressed (answering office e-mails on your laptop, paying bills) into your bed. Take care of business in other parts of your home, and reserve your bedroom for its more traditional purposes.
13. Go to bed when you’re tired. Climbing into bed before you’re sleepy is a recipe for a restless night. Putting off your bedtime may, paradoxically, help you sleep better. But don’t wait until you’re overtired and less able to settle down.
14. Avoid clock-watching. Judge whether you’re getting enough sleep by how you feel, not by how many hours you stay in bed. Keep in mind that many people who believe they have sleep problems actually get more sleep than they think—and as much as they need. You’re getting enough rest if you’re not chronically tired (beyond the normal fatigue of pregnancy). And speaking of clocks, if the sight of that of that glowing dial (and the hours ticking by) stresses you out, turn it so you can’t see it.
15. Don’t just lie there. When sleep’s eluding you—and you’ve run out of sheep to count—get up and do something relaxing (read, watch TV) until you feet sleepy.
16. Don’t lose sleep over losing sleep. Stressing about your lack of shut-eye will only make it harder to grab any. In fact, sometimes just letting go of that “will i ever fall asleep?” worry is all it takes to drop off into dreamland.