Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep While Pregnant

I have been thinking about this post for a while, but after getting only 5 hours of restless sleep and being up since 4 this morning, I thought perhaps it was time to give it a go. It has become increasingly difficult for me to get a good night’s sleep as my pregnancy progresses. I always thought I was pretty lucky, as I never really had any sleeping issues for the first and most of the second trimester, aside from constantly falling asleep in the middle of TV shows, or at 7pm. Sure, it was tough to deal with being sleepy all the time, and I’m glad I have more energy now, but it was NEVER difficult for me to fall asleep. In fact, it was too easy. However, everything has changed in the last few weeks. As my belly gets bigger, things are getting more difficult, and it’s becoming a huge challenge to get a decent amount of sleep.

I am sure this is due to many factors. The first is that I have restless legs every evening. It drives Hubby crazy while we are sitting on the couch watching TV, but it drives me crazy when I am lying in bed trying to sleep. The second is that I have to get up to pee at least once every night, no matter how well I think I’ve planned it. So this usually means I get up about 3 or 4am, and then I have to try and get back to sleep after, which is difficult. Also, lying in bed is incredibly uncomfortable, no matter how I try and do it. My hips hurt as if I’ve been lying on the hard floor rather than a soft mattress, my arm falls asleep from lying on my side, and it’s just plain uncomfortable to suddenly have an extra 20 lbs added to your frame, most of it sticking out of your middle. This extra middle-ness also tends to have a very acrobatic baby in it, practicing at un-Godly hours of the night. Also, I have some situation specific factors which include a mentally-challenged cat, and a snoring husband. So all in all, I’m fighting an uphill battle here.

So, there is a long and a short answer to this sleep conundrum.

The short answer is this: You can’t. It’s impossible. So don’t bother trying.

The long answer is more complicated. Let me begin by addressing how I’ve attempted to rectify the aforementioned issues.

Restless legs: I have yet to find a solution for this one, although I’ve recently received some suggestions (thank you, dear readers!) which I’ve yet to try. So far I have been trying to eat bananas, as potassium is rumoured to help. I really dislike bananas, so I’ve been incorporating them into smoothies and muffins where they are masked with other tastes, and their mushy texture is eradicated. I suppose I have seen a marginal improvement, if I am being honest, but it still is an issue. I do find it really helps to take a hot bath, but usually this is only a temporary fix. So I try and have a bath before bed, and then I usually have a break long enough to fall asleep.

Middle of the night pee breaks: There is really nothing that can be done here. I try and refrain from drinking too much before bedtime, and of course to drain my bladder before bed multiple times, but this is just something that us preggos have to deal with. Short of getting a catheter, I think we are hooped here.

Uncomfortableness: This one is where you can get the most creative. I thought I had it pretty easy since I sleep on my side anyway, so I didn’t have to break any habits of sleeping on my tummy. However, I find that even my old standby fetal position does not work anymore. First I tried propping up a bunch of pillows behind me (also helps with the heartburn) like a throne, and then sleeping with a pillow under my knees. This is a back-laying position, but alleviates the issue of putting pressure on the artery and restricting blood flow (which is apparently why you “shouldn’t” sleep on your back). However, I soon found that sleeping in a semi-sitting position was too difficult, as I always want to lay on my side eventually, and then it’s just really bad for my back, as the mid back is twisted in this position. So I scrapped that. Then I started getting some hip pain in my ligaments, so I needed to start sleeping with a pillow between my knees for support, and made a nest of pillows around my head and shoulders to be more comfy. This worked for a bit, but eventually the pillow between my knees (an L-shaped nursing pillow) would end up at the bottom by my feet and I would need to wake up to rearrange everything when I needed to roll over. Finally, I caved in and obtained a Snoogle pillow, which is a pregnancy specific body pillow which is supposed to cure everything. In Canada, it is very expensive (at least I think $70 for a pillow is expensive), and so I was very reluctant to spend money on something I didn’t think would work. I found a slightly used one for much much cheaper, and so have been using that one. I have to say, it solves the problem of having to rearrange every time I turn over, since it’s just one piece, so I just flip over and the part between my knees can go either way. I use it with my L-shaped nursing pillow by my head so that it basically works no matter which way I turn. By no means am I comfy, but it is an improvement there.

This is a Snoogle. I use the smaller end between my knees. It is a very odd looking thing...can nothing be cute in pregnancy?!?

Then there are the factors beyond my control. I cannot make my little baby stop practicing his jumping jacks, or swimming his laps, or whatever the heck he is doing inside there at 4am. I also cannot help my mental midget Kitty. Believe me, I have tried. But I can’t keep her from crawling onto my chest and purring in happiness. If I lock her out of the bedroom, she sets herself up so that she bangs on the door with her back legs like Thumper. And this is infinitely more annoying. Also, I can’t help her from scratching on the bathroom door so she can go in and worship her faucet. In fact, this has become slightly more annoying since we put those plastic claw covers on her, since now she squeaks when she scratches. Sigh. If I could help her, I would, but unfortunately she is just beyond help…Snoring Hubby is also a challenge. I usually just elbow him and tell him to roll over, and this buys me 20 minutes where I can try and quickly fall asleep again.

So, there it is. My sleep plan. While I haven’t found a solution, I have figured out how to make it slightly more tolerable. I know this is just going to get worse in the next 3 months, and then I will have sleep issues of a completely different nature once my little gymnast gets his lungs working. I suppose this is just the preparation for what is to come…crap.


  1. I totally commiserate with you. In the first trimesters, I always get insomnia, really bad. Then I get about a couple weeks between then and when the uncomfortableness begins. I had the leg spasms in this last pregnancy- I'd wake up screaming in pain. Ugh.

    Oh the joy of pregnancy!

  2. Oh my gosh, you have all my sympathy. :( I always just considered my pregnancy insomnia practice for when the baby came. I wish I had some pregnant sleep wisdom to pass along to you, but by month 8 or so I just accepted that it wasn't going to happen. By that time I couldn't even roll over without a whole dramatic production... good luck!! I hope you find something that works for you!

  3. Thanks ladies! Good to know that we suffer together, and that it's all worth it in the end...haha.

  4. Sleep??? what is that - good luck hon-maybe a potato in bed, for your legs, ha, or just eat green bananas - love Mom xoxo

  5. Hi Amy, cute post :) I've found that if I put my snoogle with the curvier part between my legs so that the end of it ends up under my belly giving me some support there, that works pretty well.

  6. Hello Amy, i am glad you found a way to minimize your discomfort and enhance your sleep. Pregnancy is a stage of life when one realizes that women are quite different. Some are sickly and weak while others go about their daily business as usual. When it comes to sleep, there are those who sleep too much, those who sleep normally and those who hardly catch some sleep. I am sure that the tips you have shared above will help a suffering mom-to-be. I enjoyed reading your post.


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