Pregnancy Guide: Sleeping Tips for Moms and Moms to Be
If you’re pregnant, are you having trouble sleeping? How wonderful! What a great opportunity to practice for what’s to come. OK, I know, it doesn’t feel like that. I remember lying there next to my baby in a co-sleeper, knowing she was just going to wake up again in an hour and wondering why I should even bother.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just drop right in to sleep, or at least a deep 1/2-way super restful reverie? I learned these sleeping tips after the fact. Don’t re-invent the wheel – use them. They can help you get a more restful and deeper night’s sleep.
Sleeping Tip 1: If you’re pregnant, know that it’s ok if you wake up on your back
Yes, circulation is optimal when we lie on our left side. But if your weight is going forward, then even when you rest on your right side baby is probably fine, as baby is not pressing on the vena cava (the vein that returns blood to the heart). You can also just lift your heart slightly above your pelvisand circulation will be perfect. If you stress out when you wake up on your back, there is possibly more risk of affecting baby with stress hormones than the possibility of a circulation problem because of your position.
When I worked at Kaiser Permanente, leading discussions with doctors and nurses for 6 years, they would say the same thing to pregnant women each time: ‘listen, we put you where we want you during labor. It’s not a big issue if you wake up on your back.’ Talk to your doctor to find out what’s ok, rather than believing what you hear, so you can stay calm.
Sleeping Tip 2: Find the right sleeping contraptions
Some people like lots of pillows, others purchase the Boppy or the Snoogle. Personally, I didn’t like how high they were on my neck – I like a very low pillow – even a folded towel with a little roll on the end to support the curve of my neck.
Definitely try wedging something under your belly as you lie on your side, especially as your belly grows. You might not even notice the discomfort caused by gravity pulling your belly down.
Sleeping Tip 3: Kick your partner out
Sorry, partner, but you might have to sleep on the couch to support your growing family.
Sleeping Tip 4: Pregnant or not, meditate before sleep for 2 minutes
This is key. Sit up in bed (you may want to ask your partner to do it with you to improve your energetic connection) and close your eyes. Move your awareness into the spaces between the thoughts. That’s it – keep it simple. Just try to become as spacious as you can, like the big universe and your thoughts are just stars floating by.
Or, focus on your breathing. Try to make your exhales be twice as long as your inhales. This grounds your energy and initiates the parasympathetic nervous system response, calming the body down. If you lose track of the breath and feel like your floating in awareness, great. The space of meditation is similar to the space right before sleep. You can get skilled at getting there. Plus, it can set the tone for the whole night to sleep deeply – for both of you!
Sleeping Tip 5: Align with the day/night cycle
For hundreds of thousands of years, humans went to sleep at dark. 200 years ago we started staying up later because of electricity. The body is still deeply programmed to go with the day/night cycle. Sleep can be easier and better if you get to sleep before 10pm. Un-plug from working – especially on electric screens – by 6 pm. Do relaxing activities with your family instead.
Also, make sure you’ve completed your dinner 3 hours before sleep, so by at least 7pm. According to Ayurveda, digestion is a heat-related process. If we are digesting our food while we sleep, that’s where the body’s energy goes. If not, your body can digest your day and you will sleep more deeply and wake up refreshed. If you have to snack, eat lightly steamed veggies or some light soup – something that’s easy to digest.
Sleeping Tip 7: Use a hot water bottle
Put a hot water on your abdomen (available at any pharmacy). It’s an amazing way to shift to warming, cozy, sleep energy.
Bonus Tip: Do Yoga
Ways to Get Back to Sleep
Become aware of your body as energy
Once you’ve woken up to pee or feed, try to lie perfectly still. Bring your awareness to your legs and relax them. Allow them to become heavy – picture bones returning to earth. Then move up to belly. Imagine opening up space all around baby with your breath.
Move up to your heart and imagine connecting to all those you love from this place. Move to the 3rd eye, right above the eyes in the middle. Open up this place that allows you to see clearly all that is – your deepest vision and wisdom. Go up to the top of your head, and open this place up to receive the energy of the universe, full of wisdom and power and freedom. When you do this and just lie there, you are deeply nourishing and replenishing your body with consciousness, even if you aren’t sleeping.
Get into Child’s Pose
This is a funny one. To me, Child’s Pose is super relaxing in class (knees wide, feet together, rest your head on your hands), but in the middle of the night it feels like an intense hip opener. It’s hard to get there without waking your partner, but once you’re there, stay there for a while and feel your energy begin to settle downward through the hips – rather than spinning around your head.
Breathe only through the left-nostril
This REALLY works. Use the sheet or pillow to gently cover your right nostril, close your mouth and breathe. Try to make it past 5 minutes of this. I rarely can.
If You Have a Partner, Touch Him or Her
I love this one. When he’s asleep then any part of my body touching him is like a channel for sleepy energy. Sometimes I spoon to get the full flow of sleepiness. Focus on your partner’s energy and you will soon join them in relaxed slumber.
If all else fails, get up and meditate
Go into the living room, put on dim light or a candle, and try this meditation. The time from 2-6am are considering the best for meditation – we have access to great clarity and subtle awareness.
Also, go to two of my meditation teachers’ websites, www.SallyKempton.com or www.IntegralEnlightenment.com for some great free audios where they talk you through a meditation.
If you’re a mom who could use some more tips, advice, and just grown up talk, join our online support group. We even hop on Zoom monthly with an expert to guide you through the ups and downs.