Insomnia and Pregnancy
Insomnia is prevalent in pregnancy, as almost as anyone who has been pregnant will tell you. It may be difficult to fall asleep, or more commonly, it may be difficult to go back to sleep after waking up for one of the many trips to the bathroom at night. There are a lot of factors that go into sleeping more deeply, and we recommend each person talk to their midwife or care provider if they need more support to sleep well and feel rested.
Chamomile, or matricaria recutita, is a gentle sleep aid that’s safe in pregnancy. It is a nervine, which means it calms the central nervous system and brings everything gently down to support drowsiness and sleep. It can be used to relieve anxiety and rapid thoughts at night, which is a common cause of sleeplessness. We recommend it to our clients as a tea, as the warm water is typically soothing and it can be brewed to the user’s desired level. For a therapeutic effect, we recommend steeping the tea for about 15 minutes (covered so it doesn’t lose all the heat), but that can leave it pretty bitter! A little bit of raw, local honey added will make it a sweet and soothing elixir before bed. You might want to consider making it about an hour before you intend to go to sleep so that you have time to make that last trip to the bathroom before you lay down.
Magnesium is a fabulous and naturally-occurring promoter of sleep. Magnesium is one of the 24 essential vitamins and minerals, and many modern people are magnesium deficient because of its lack of availability in our soil and food. Magnesium plays a widespread role in the human body, but one of its most important functions is the promotion of sleep. It maintains healthy levels of GABA, the neurotransmitter that causes deep sleep. Additionally, adequate levels of GABA encourage relaxation and mood stabilization, and has been shown to aid in anxiety and depression treatment. Magnesium before bed can help with help people feel more tired before bed, sleep more deeply, decrease their restless legs at night, and keep their overall drowsiness lower so they return to sleep more quickly. Our favorite form of magnesium is magnesium glycinate because it doesn’t tend to cause loose stool like other forms.
It seems obvious, but it’s also worth saying: “sleep hygiene”, or the practices around bedtime, are really important. If you’re stimulating your body to think it’s still time to go, it won’t be able to lay right down and go to sleep, or at least not deeply. In the hour before bed, avoid screens, or use the night-time setting if you must look at a screen. Keep lights, voices, and music low. Make yourself a cup of tea. Practice deep breathing. Choose not to engage with things that worry or stress you, and if you can’t stop thinking about those things, consider journaling or talking to someone. When you put a little child to bed, there are certain steps you take to help them feel restful and to encourage them to sleep. Treat yourself with the same kindness, and help yourself get ready for bed.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Sarah and Charli