Updated December 16, 2023
The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, and for expecting mothers, often, sleepless nights.
Pregnancy insomnia is a common experience, but when combined with the excitement and stress of the holidays, it can turn those silent nights into a restless wait for dawn.
Here’s a guide on how to handle pregnancy insomnia during the holidays, ensuring both you and your baby enjoy this special time with comfort and joy.
Pregnancy Insomnia Ends Here Our Experts Unveil Holiday Sleep Secrets
Understanding Pregnancy Insomnia
First, it’s important to understand that insomnia during pregnancy is normal.
First-trimester sleep problems may occur due to your body adjusting to being pregnant.
You can thank high levels of progesterone for making you feel drowsy during the day and keeping you up at night.
Hormonal changes, physical discomfort, and anxiety about the upcoming birth and parenting responsibilities can all play a role.
During the holidays, these feelings might be amplified due to increased family commitments, travel plans, and the general hustle and bustle of the season.
Dr. Doug Penta, MD, OB/GYN, explains, ‘During pregnancy, high levels of progesterone can paradoxically make you feel drowsy by day yet keep you awake at night. Add to this the hormonal changes, physical discomfort, and natural anxiety about birth and parenting, and it’s a challenging mix. During the holidays, these experiences are often amplified by family commitments and the season’s hustle and bustle.’
Tips for Better Sleep
Maintain a Routine:
As difficult as it may seem with holiday events and preparations, try to keep a regular sleep schedule.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help regulate your body clock.
If you have never had a set sleep schedule, be patient in the beginning.
Stick to the routine and it gets easier to fall asleep.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Environment:
Make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary.
Keep the room dark, cool, and quiet.
Use earplugs or a white noise machine to block out festive noises from neighbors or street celebrations.
I find a temp in the low 60s perfect for a restful night’s sleep.
It isn’t unusual to feel warm during pregnancy and dropping the temp in your bedroom a degree or two before bed can go a long way in alleviating your discomfort.
Limit Holiday Treats:
This is one I struggled with.
Those sugary holiday treats and heavy meals can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle.
Try to limit caffeine and sweets, especially in the evening.
Opt for lighter, healthier meal options that won’t leave you feeling uncomfortable when it’s time to sleep.
Try to pair protein, carb, and fat together.
So what I always liked was half a sandwich with meat and cheese if I was hungry before bed.
Some healthy pregnancy snacks include:
- Whole-grain crackers with nut butter or peanut butter
- Dry whole-grain cereal
- Bagel and cream cheese
- Pretzels with nut butter or cheese
- Hummus and carrot sticks
Gentle exercises like prenatal yoga or a short walk can improve circulation and help reduce stress, making it easier to fall asleep.
Just avoid vigorous activity close to bedtime.
I also found that if I was able to swim during the day I slept better at night.
Practices such as meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation can be beneficial.
Consider a prenatal massage or ask your partner for a gentle back rub before bed.
You may find doing guided imagery to be helpful.
Try to visualize a quiet, peaceful, and restful place.
Concentrate on allowing your body and mind to relax.
I found two things that worked for me: A warm bath before bed and reading or journaling.
Mind Your Fluids:
Stay hydrated during the day, but reduce fluid intake in the evenings to minimize nighttime trips to the bathroom.
This is a double-edged sword during pregnancy.
If you don’t drink enough dehydration can lead to difficulty sleeping, but drinking too much in the evening before bed can mean endless trips to the bathroom throughout the night.
The best thing you can do is keep a water bottle filled with cold water during the day so you remember to drink enough during your waking hours.
Comfort is Key:
Use pillows to support your belly and back.
There are specially designed maternity pillows available that can help you find a comfortable sleeping position.
I LOVE my pregnancy pillow and I used it my whole pregnancy and through postpartum too!
Dealing with Holiday Stress
The holidays can be stressful, and stress is a known culprit for insomnia.
Here are some ways to manage stress during this season:
Set Realistic Expectations: You don’t have to attend every holiday event or cook the perfect meal.
It’s okay to say no and prioritize your health and well-being.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help with holiday preparations.
Family and friends are often happy to lend a hand.
Sometimes people don’t know what to do to help, so don’t be afraid to be direct in asking.
Take Time for Yourself:
Make sure to schedule some quiet time.
Read a book, take a warm bath, or just relax with your favorite music.
Connect with Loved Ones:
Share your feelings with your partner, friends, or a support group.
Sometimes, just talking about your anxieties can be incredibly relieving.
Dr. Doug Penta, MD, assures us that a bit of sleep trouble during the holidays is quite common for expectant moms and it’s unlikely to impact your baby’s health.
He emphasizes that while consistent, severe insomnia might need medical attention, the occasional restless night is part of the pregnancy for many.
So, if you’re tossing and turning a bit more this festive season, don’t worry too much—it’s a normal experience for many pregnant women and typically doesn’t pose a risk to your little one.
When to Seek Professional Help
If insomnia is severely impacting your life or if you have concerns about your mental health, it’s important to talk to your OB/GYN or Midwife.
They can offer advice, support, and if necessary, safe treatment options to help you manage insomnia during pregnancy.
The holiday season, while festive and exciting, can amplify the challenges of pregnancy insomnia.
Remember, taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give to your baby.
Let this holiday season be a time of rest, rejuvenation, and joyous anticipation for the new life you’re about to welcome.