If you find yourself eyes wide open at 2 a.m., wondering if you should reach for your phone, get up and make yourself a snack, or power up the kindle, you’re not alone. Any parent’s advice to a mama-to-be is, “Enjoy your sleep!” But guess what? Sometimes it’s just not that easy.
Even the soundest sleepers can become total insomniacs once the creation of life is on our to-do list. And there’s a whole host of reasons why. Maybe it’s because you have to get up to pee every two hours, or because your new nightly heartburn makes it impossible to lie down. Or maybe it’s the cramp in your leg, the ache in your back, or the ever-growing belly you’re trying to maneuver every time you want to roll over (or the tiny human inside that’s kickboxing your uterus!).
And it doesn’t stop there. Our mind can be as big of an insomnia culprit as our body. What will labor feel like? How many prenatal vitamins do I have left? Did I remember to put those crib sheets on the registry? Cloth or disposable? Sometimes we can easily spin ourselves out till sunrise. There’s no tried-and-true secret for sinking into a deep, undisturbed sleep while pregnant, but there are a few ways you can set yourself up for greater success.
Body pillow With your growing belly, stretchy hips, and achy joints and muscles, getting comfy at night can feel like a pipe dream. But a body pillow can be a huge help. And there are so many different kinds—S-shaped, U-shaped, wedge-shaped, and more—so if one isn’t right, don’t let it stop you from trying out another. Find one that gives you support where you most need it, whether that’s between your knees or under your neck or belly.
Diffuser Lavender essential oil has been shown to alleviate anxiety and up sleep quality. Add a few drops to a diffuser and let that little machine mist you into dreamland. Or skip the diffuser all together and just go straight for the oil: add a couple drops of lavender oil to your pillow case before you go to sleep, or dab a drop or two on your wrists or temple.
Eye mask When we’re having trouble sleeping, even a little bit of light (from a streetlamp, a bathroom light, or even a smartphone) can feel like a floodlight. If you’ve never been an eye mask person, now might be the time to try it—wearing one is the easiest way to you may just wonder why you went so long without one.
Meditation Yeah, we know you know—meditation makes everything better. But it’s kind of true! Especially when it comes to sleep and the mental acrobatics anxiety makes us perform. You can start small, really small, with just a couple of minutes a day. But see if you can keep it up, we swear it gets easier.
Exercise Here’s another one you’ve probably heard, but that’s ’cause it truly works—a bit of exercise every day has been shown to improve sleep. We’re not saying to benchpress your weight after you put your PJs on, but getting your body moving during the day will help it slow down at night.
Sound machine They’re not just for babies! Having some soothing, consistent noise in your bedroom at night—hello ocean sounds!—can help lull you to sleep and then keep you there, by drowning out external noise and keeping your brain in a state of calm.