The last thing wanted during pregnancy is difficulty getting to sleep, stress or insomnia. This is why prioritising relaxation in the lead up to bed is essential to falling asleep quickly and an improved quality of sleep.
Here are my top tips to relax during pregnancy before sleep:
Create a relaxing environment
A calm environment before bed is important to relax your nervous system. It’s no wonder we have trouble sleeping when the lead up to bed involves bright lights, a blaring TV and a scary Netflix episode!
Relaxing music and diffusing lavender oils are other ways to create a calming environment and improve quality of sleep.
Have an Epsom salt bath
Who doesn’t love a bath?! Especially when you can add Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), which have been thought to relieve muscle tension and promote relaxation – two benefits we desperately need during pregnancy! Just make sure the bath is warm and not too hot, as you don’t want to increase your temperature too much before bed.
Meditation or breathing practise
We live in such a fast pace world these days, add a growing baby to this, and there is no wonder the mind of a pregnant woman is in overdrive. If you can take between 5-20 minutes every night to do a meditation or breathing practise, it has been shown to calm your mind, increase melatonin levels and improve your quality of sleep.
In addition to this, meditation in pregnancy has positive effects on the health of your newborn – what more incentive do you need?!
To find a meditation that works for you, Insight Timer is a great free app with a variety of meditations.
No doubt you’ve heard this tip before, but that’s because turning off technology really does work! Putting your laptop away and your phone on aeroplane mode an hour before bed will help relax you, remove distractions and set you up for a good nights sleep.
Keep conversation light
Nighttime, especially getting into bed, is not the time to start a heavy conversation with your partner! Make sure you both have an understanding that before bed and in the bedroom, the conversation needs to be light and loving. It isn’t the time to talk finances or bring up that issue that’s been bothering you.
Write down anything that is worrying you
So that your mind is in a relaxed state for going to sleep, I suggest writing down anything that is bothering you or anything pressing you have to do the next day. This helps to get the topic out of your head so you don’t stew over it whilst trying to fall asleep.
A gentle stretching routine before bed helps to relax your muscles, and is a time to mindfully focus on your breath.
During pregnancy, pelvic, back or hip pain, and leg cramps during the night are very common. To prevent this from interfering with your sleep, commit to a stretching regime every night. Here is a series of safe stretches to do before bed during your pregnancy.
A good quality magnesium supplement before bed helps to relax your muscles, support healthy sleep patterns and reduce leg cramps full during the night.
Enjoy a chamomile tea
A cup of chamomile tea in the lead up to bed has a calming effect on the body and is a sleep-inducer.
We all know that reading makes us tired, so why don’t we do it more often?! Trade the TV for an old fashioned book and read a few pages or chapter before turning the light off in bed.
Establish a bedtime routine
Once you work out which of the above strategies relax you the most, implement these each night in a specific order so you establish a bedtime routine. Doing so consistently will further prepare you for sleep by association.
About the writer
Anna Scammell is a Masters-trained Women’s Health & Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, and Founder of www.thewholemother.com. Anna consults at Sevenways Health Centre in North Bondi, where she combines her 10+ years of clinical experience, evidence based knowledge, and passion for health & wellbeing. Anna’s mission is to educate, empower & inspire women to be the best version of themself during their childbearing years.
Connect with Anna:
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Cho et al (2015) Effects of artificial light at night on human health: A literature review of observational and experimental studies applied to exposure assessment. Chronobiology International 32: 1294-1310.
Koulivand et al (2013) Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine.
Nagendra et al (2012) Meditation and it’s regulatory role on sleep. Frontiers in Neurology 3:54.
Srivastava et al (2010) Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Molecular Medicine Reports 3: 895–901.
Young and Jewell (2002) Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.