Pregnant women often have difficulty either falling asleep or remaining asleep. Some of this is due to the fact that beginning early in pregnancy, women urinate more frequently. And certainly during the last few months, the enlarged uterus will not allow the bladder to expand much at all. So, even if you can fall asleep easily, you’re up and urinating after a couple of hours anyway. To address this, make certain that you empty your bladder as the last thing before going to bed. You may restrict fluids shortly before bed, but don’t do this to the point of going to bed thirsty or significantly restricting fluids in the evening. The result may be an increase in headaches and uterine contractions.

Early on, pregnant women notice the effects of their changing body in their sleep patterns. The enlarging breasts and abdomen may need better support. If your breasts are significantly large, wear a good supportive bra to bed. If you can afford it, buy a couple of good, comfortable bras. Have a bra specialty or maternity store help you with the fit. Call your local La Leche League chapter and see if they can recommend a store near you. If you don’t like wearing a bra to bed, try a sport (jog) bra. Likewise, your enlarging tummy and thighs are also pulling at their internal supports and causing some discomfort. Many department and bed/bathroon specialty stores sell “body pillows”…..this may be the best $20 you spend during your pregnancy. This skinny, long pillow can be tucked between the breasts, under the tummy and between the legs for surprising comfort (if only your partner was this snuggly!).

Prior to an FDA ban, the amino acid, L-tryptophan was marketed as a sleep aid…….and for good reason. It worked well for most people using it. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Because of this fact tryptophan was classified as a food supplement and, thus, did not fall under the federal laws which regulate drugs. However, in the early ’90’s, a Japanese company sold L-tryptophan which caused a handful of deaths and was linked to a rare neuromuscular disorder. Before anyone could figure out if the cause of the problems was the tryptophan or a contaminant, the FDA banned all forms of supplemental tryptophan. So, what’s in it for you, now? Well, tryptophan is still a natural component of many common foods (turkey, spinach, milk). Ever wonder why Uncle Harry and Grandpa flake out on the couch after Thanksgiving dinner? (Part of it is because Aunt Edna and Grandma not only make the meal, they also are the ones who usually clean up after it.) But the other reason is the tryptophan in the hot turkey. Warm milk does the same thing.

Try this if you’re having trouble sleeping. First, go purchase that body pillow. An hour before bedtime do one of two things: fix yourself a half of a turkey sandwich and substitute spinach for lettuce, OR, warm some milk just to the point of steaming and add some maple syrup (real maple syrup, not corn-syrup-based pancake syrup) . Draw a hot bath (see Hot Tubs warning). While the bath is filling, turn down your bed. Sit in the bath and drink your warm milk or eat your sandwich. Dry yourself, empty your bladder and go straight to bed.