Sleep Like a Baby

How to conquer the sleep-busters that keep you awake.

beautiful pregnant woman suffering from insomnia


What if I have a problem during labor? Is my baby healthy? Will my husband still think I'm sexy? Will my body ever be the same again?

Solutions: The best way to silence sleep-killing mind chatter is to work through bothersome problems before you go to bed. If anxieties still keep you awake, talk them through with a friend, your partner or a therapist. Also, perform relaxing bedtime rituals, such as taking a warm bath.


Increased blood flow during pregnancy causes everything to swell, including nasal passages. Thus, according to the NSF, about 30 percent of pregnant women snore—even if they didn't before. Extreme congestion coupled with excessive weight gain may cause sleep apnea (when you stop breathing temporarily), a more serious sleep disorder.

Solutions: "Those little Breathe Right strips that you stick on your nose saved me," says Leslie Lundt, M.D., a Boise, Idaho, psychiatrist who specializes in sleep problems and is a mother of five. Using a humidifier, inhaling steam and using saline nose drops also can help.


Because of increased progesterone levels, pregnant women's bodies "run hot." Being surrounded by pillows in an attempt to get comfortable can make you even hotter.

Solutions: Wear breathable cotton nightwear and use a light blanket. Also try using the Chillow; it slips inside your pillowcase to help keep you cool all night ($40;


With your uterus now parked under your chin, causing stomach acids to back up into your esophagus, heartburn can be an issue, especially when you're lying down.

Solutions: Avoid eating a heavy meal for three hours before bedtime. Cut down on spicy; fried; and acidic foods, including tomatoes, orange juice and coffee. Sleep with your head or the top of your bed elevated, and lie on your left side. A liquid antacid like Gaviscon is safe to take, says Richard Frieder, M.D., a clinical instructor of OB-GYN and family medicine at the UCLA School of Medicine.


Carrying a baby throws your whole body into a new alignment. You're likely to notice this most when you lie down at night.

Solutions: "How you treat your body during the day affects your comfort at night," Yan-Go says. "Wearing good support hose and comfortable shoes will help reduce the back and leg aches that accompany pregnancy." Also, stretch and do abdominal exercises frequently. Put a pillow between your knees if you sleep on your side or try a full-body pillow. Back rubs, a heating pad and warm baths can help, too.


"One of the many reasons pregnant women don't sleep well is because the moving baby puts them in a lighter stage of sleep," Frieder says. "It's like having a bird pecking at the window all night." Plus, your growing belly makes getting comfortable difficult.

Solutions: Notice the times of day when your baby is quieter and nap then. Try getting comfortable with "pillow architecture."


Pregnant women need to urinate more frequently because they are—or should be—drinking more fluids. Also, the growing uterus puts pressure on the bladder, reducing its capacity. The problem often is worse in the first and third trimesters.

Solutions: Cut back on liquids after 5 p.m. and try not to drink anything at all for two hours before you go to bed. Whenever you urinate, especially in the last trimester, lift your belly, which will allow your bladder to empty completely.


You're asleep but your legs aren't. A crawling sensation in your legs makes you jerk them, which momentarily stops the feeling but also wakes you up. Or, a painful calf cramp suddenly arouses you from sleep.

Solutions: Although there are medications to help, they're not safe for pregnant women. Some sources say increasing calcium intake can help; however, Frieder says, there's no scientific evidence to support that. Instead, he recommends light stretching (flex your foot rather than pointing your toes), exercising during the day and leg massages.

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