Ironically, even as most moms experience more fatigue than usual during pregnancy, this is also the time when many of them struggle with insomnia. Being tired, but unable to sleep, is incredibly frustrating. I am no stranger to being awoken in the middle of the night by some disturbance (I have seven very cute ones!), and then being unable to go back to sleep immediately.
Here, in no particular order, are things I have found helpful in combating insomnia.
- Tempted as you may be, resist the urge to get up out of bed. 2 AM is not the time to study the Bible, fold laundry, or (heaven forbid!) surf the internet. Getting out of bed, and/or turning on any lights, will only reinforce to your body that it is acceptable to be awake at this time.
- Even if you cannot sleep, lie there with your eyes closed, reminding yourself that resting like that is almost as restorative as sleep itself. Rather than worrying about how crummy and tired you will feel come morning, pat yourself on the back mentally for doing the next best thing to sleeping, which is lying down quietly in a dark room with your eyes closed, tuning out any thoughts of stress or responsibility. Often, I have found this alone is enough to have me back to sleep in no time.
- Ditch the bedside clock - both the light from it, and the agony of realizing at what unholy hour you are awake, will only add to your insomnia. Your body's internal clock will soon learn to give you a general idea of what time it is.
- While I said that this is no time for Bible reading, praying is a different story. It gives you something to occupy your mind with, and is soothing and relaxing because you are unloading your burdens on the Lord. Praying at night, more than anything, will almost immediately lull me to sleep. Just think of the disciples in the garden of Gethsemane with Jesus, when they were unable to stay awake in prayer with him.
- Refrain from looking at electronic screens for several hours before bed time, such as TV, computer monitors, tablets, smart phones, etc. Opt for reading books or magazines instead, which will actually help you be more sleepy.
- If leg cramps wake you up during the night, consider eating a banana before bed each night, and/or adding a liquid calcium magnesium supplement, also taken right before going to bed.
- If you are wakened by hunger pangs in the middle of the night, up your protein intake in the evening to hold you over until morning. In case you do wake up, have an easy snack next to the bed that you can just grab and munch without needing to get up or turn on any lights.
If, in spite of all these, you are unable to get enough rest and you find yourself overly tired, try to sneak in a nap whenever you get an opportunity to.