Although I briefly suffered some hormone-related insomnia earlier in my pregnancy, I’ve gotta tell y’all something: lately I’ve been getting some of the best sleep of my life. Great sleep and pregnancy aren’t typically two things that you would associate with each other. Buuut while dealing with a stressful early pregnancy, I knew that I had to take some steps that would help relieve some anxiety and allow me to relax. And these ten tips for better sleep have truly made a world of difference. In all honesty, I can’t take credit for all of these techniques. Some of them came directly from my counselor, but others came with just a little experimentation and listening to my body. So, settle in and get ready for a good night’s sleep, y’all! 😉
1. No TV in the bedroom
I’m sure y’all have heard this many times before. But seriously this was probably the hardest habit I had to break! Especially with pregnancy, I find myself getting tired around 8 pm. This is typically when my husband and I would head to the bedroom to watch a show. And then I would attempt to fall asleep while my husband continued watching TV. Of course, this was a little spot of contention because I cannot sleep with the TV on in the background. I would toss and turn until he finally turned it off. Clearly not a great start, right?!
My husband wasn’t too fond of the idea because sometimes watching that one TV show in bed together was the only time we spent together. So, sometimes, I’ll stay up a little later in the living room. But honestly, some days I just go to bed early. There are still times I wish I could watch TV in bed, but I’ve been avoiding it for months and been sleeping better!
The thought process here is to help your brain associate your bed with sleep. These days sitting in bed almost immediately brings on the yawns. So, I’m a believer that this works!
2. Write in a journal
For my fellow anxious friends, this one is for you. Are you one of those people who lays down and immediately starts thinking of all the things undone? Or maybe you start rehashing your day. Either way, those ruminating thoughts can make it impossible to relax.
I now leave a journal and pen on my side table. I don’t use it everyday or even every week. But there are days when I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed by emotion. I pull it out, write down everything I’m thinking or feeling and then close the book. I can then tell myself, I’ve already let out everything I need to. If you’re very task-oriented, make a list of the things you’d like to accomplish and then let your mind rest in the fact that you won’t forget tomorrow’s to-dos.
I should also add that my counselor recommends doing these brain dumps prior to going into the bedroom. Again, this will help associate getting into bed with sleep rather than thoughts. Buuuut, most of the time I forget. So, a journal on the night stand works for me! If you continue to struggle with thoughts, you might want to practice writing prior to going to your bedroom!
3. Stretch prior to getting into bed
As someone who danced most of my life, I’ve always found that stretching is incredibly relaxing for me. Everything I do is very gentle since my muscles aren’t warm. Starting with my neck, I’ll go through my entire body: gentle neck rolls, arm stretches, gentle twists, glute stretches, hamstrings, quads, calf stretches, and ankle rolls. I never make it through the entire routine without yawning. It’s a great way to get my mind focused on my body and breath instead of whatever is going on in my brain. If you’d like something a little more structured, a gentle five-minute yoga flow is also a great option!
4. Read a book
This one can actually be a little hit or miss with me. I love that reading allows me to relax and get away from screen time. But on the flip side, sometimes I get so into a book I end up staying up later then I intended to! I found that it helps when I read my daily devotional passage before bed since it’s a limited passage. (Looking for a new devo? See my top five devotional recommendations here!) Also setting a time limit for reading works too!
I’m not great at self-guided mediation. My mind tends to wander too much! But I’ve found some great guided ones on youtube. Whether you’d like something more spiritual-based or just relaxation-based, there are so many options. My favorites, which are just relaxation-based, are by The Honest Guys. I typically stick to the ten-minute sleep talk-downs. I’m almost always asleep minutes after they’re done!
6. Deep breathing
Have you ever heard of the 4-7-8 breathing technique? I actually read about it a few years back when I couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night. Basically, you breath in for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale to the count of eight. Repeat a couple times and then resume normal breathing. It immediately slows your heart rate and relaxes your body.
7. Positive affirmations — “I am at peace.”
If after writing things down and trying to clear your mind, you still find yourself struggling with distracting thoughts, try some positive affirmations. My fav, recommended straight from my counselor, is repeating an affirmation like, “I am at peace.” I breath in and whisper, “I am.” Then I breathe out and say, “at peace.” It’s important to actually say the words out loud because they have a greater impact on your mind than just thinking them!
8. White noise
My husband makes fun of me for this one because he says I have to have the perfect circumstances to sleep well. I guess he wouldn’t be entirely wrong! ? But as a kid growing up, I always had a fan in my room. I loved it not only for the cool air but also because of the white noise. And since then I don’t sleep as well without it! When my husband were dating I even went out an purchased a fan to keep at his apartment. I can’t make this stuff up, y’all!
Anyways, these days we have a ceiling fan that does the job pretty nicely. But if I’m feeling restless, I’ll turn to my handy “Rain Rain” app. If you truly like white noise, try airliner! Most of the time I turn on ocean waves since that’s what my daughter listens to… and we still have a monitor on which I can faintly hear her Rain Rain app! Yep, I’m setting up my daughter for the same fate! 😉
9. Get out of bed after 15 minutes of restlessness
If all else fails or I find myself awake in the middle of the night, the best advice I’ve ever received is to actually get out of bed and leave the bedroom! I typically get up and walk into my living room. I’ll do a few stretches and then head back to bed. It’s a way of resetting your brain to go back to sleep. And it works! Don’t fight it by tossing and turning more than fifteen minutes!
10. Silk pillowcase
Alright, this one is a little silly and definitely not necessary. Buuut, I recently purchased myself a silk pillowcase with a gift card I had, and I love it! It stays cool way better than cotton and is so soft! Apparently it’s also better for your skin and hair, causing less damage. I’ve also realized it makes my hair less greasy. Less hair washing? BONUS! Even though totally not related to sleep, I’ll take it as a win. I purchased this one, which is a bit pricey, but I heard from a friend who owns multiple that this one is just as good and is a fraction of the price!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this list, do not feel like you have to do all of this every single night. Oh my gosh, y’all. I tried to do that a few times and my husband pointed out that my lengthy routine was actually stressing me out. Talk about counterproductive!
These days, I run through at least one of these. On the days when I need more, I add on one or two more. Just listen to your body and try a couple! Use what works and ditch what doesn’t! Now, here’s to a getting the best sleep ever!
If you have more tips for better sleep, I’d love to hear ’em! Do you have a bedtime routine?