In the past, I'd always been a great sleeper. I never had a problem falling asleep or getting a good night's rest — that is, until I had my first child!
My son Timothy was born three years ago, and let me tell you, becoming a mother has completely changed my sleeping patterns. I can definitely now relate to clients, friends, and family who've complained to me about their difficulty getting a good night's sleep. Plus, now that I'm currently pregnant with twins, a whole new slew of dozing woes — think nausea, rib pain, heartburn, and frequent bathroom trips — have hit me again. Timothy is finally sleeping through the night (I was a big co-sleeper and it took me a while), but now I'm struggling with waking up from being pregnant.
Fortunately, I've found some tried-and-true recipes for getting the best sleep I possibly can despite being pregnant and having a toddler. Here's what I recommend:
1. Establish a schedule.
This holds true for getting my son on track as well as for helping me stay sane and sleep well. If you go to bed around the same time and wake up around the same time most days, you will notice how your body gets into the perfect rhythm and you sleep like a baby. Even on the weekends, I try not to stay up too late or sleep in.
Of course, there will be the rare occasion when it's necessary, like weddings or once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. But for the most part, when you're home, try to set a natural schedule and stick with it.
2. Keep the room cool and dark.
If the room is kept around 67 degrees, it's the perfect temperature for a good night's rest. If you're too hot you wake up in a pool of sweat, which is never fun, and if you're too cold, your body can't fully relax. I also love ceiling fans for providing a light breeze and acting like a natural noise machine.
3. Invest in a quality pillow.
This is a must! You have to find the right pillow for you. Whether you like a sturdy pillow or a soft pillow, a silk pillowcase or an organic cotton one, you need to create the coziest bed you can.
Get some quality pillows and your favorite sheets, and spritz some lavender or any sleepy-time scent that creates a sleep sanctuary.
4. Exercise every day.
If you move your body throughout the day, you're more apt to sleep well at night. I notice this even with my 3-year-old — on the days he's super active, he sleeps great!
Many pregnant women worry about exercising during pregnancy, and yet most don't have to. Exercise is wonderful for expecting women and as long as you listen to your body and don't push it too hard — this holds true for everyone — you're fine.
5. Create a nighttime ritual.
I personally like to snuggle with my son and let him fall asleep. Then, I do my last-minute assignments, power off all electronics (it's important to do this at least an hour before bed, or your brain will be too stimulated), brush my teeth, wash my face, do a gentle nighttime yoga stretching routine, write down three things I'm grateful for, and go straight to bed. (Or have sex and then go straight to bed!)
6. Eat a small snack and keep alcohol to a minimum.
I've found what works best, whether pregnant or not, is to eat smaller meals more frequently. I typically eat a healthy dinner and then around 9 p.m. or an hour before bed, I'll have a small snack. I like Greek or Siggi's yogurt with berries, a banana and some nut butter, or cottage cheese and sliced peaches or strawberries.
I also try not to drink too much before bed, or I'm up using the restroom all night. Wine is a no-no for me right now, but I've noticed even when I'm not pregnant that on the nights when I have wine too close to bedtime, I don't sleep well at all.
7. Practice bedtime yoga poses.
Here is my favorite flow to do before I go to bed:
If you don't practice yoga, find something to do that will tell your brain and body it’s time for bed, whether it's reading a book, writing in your journal, meditating or making a gratitude list.