Between your hormones going haywire, those tiny — but mighty — baby kicks, at least two nightly trips to use the restroom, painful leg cramps, and of course, finding a comfortable sleep position, getting a solid seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep during pregnancy is a whole lot easier said than done.
The good news is that there are more options than you might realize when it comes to saying goodbye to at least some of those sleep disturbances. In addition to prescription medication from your OB/GYN, there are naturally-derived ingredients that have certain vitamins and minerals to help you summon the sandman.
Read on to get the scoop on pregnancy-safe vitamins and minerals that can help you sleep.
Sweet dreams, ahead!
But First, Why Is Sleep So Elusive During Pregnancy?
You're probably already expecting to encounter some sleep deprivation after the birth of your little one, but did you think you'd be dealing with it beforehand?
Most expectant mothers hope to catch plenty of zzzs during pregnancy so that they are well-rested when their darling tot arrives. But as pregnancy progresses, it often gets harder and harder to fall and stay asleep.
There’s pressure from your belly, your bladder feels like it’s always full, your back aches, and your mind is racing with a combo of excitement and anxiety all the time.
When you're pregnant, your body undergoes massive changes to help you birth a new life at the end of those nine months. Unfortunately, these changes are likely also the culprits behind your sleep woes.
Take morning sickness, for example; this super common pregnancy symptom is most profound during the first trimester, especially because of the following hormonal changes:
- As the placenta forms, your body produces an essential hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Although experts aren't entirely sure why, when hCG levels rise, it often correlates with a peak in morning sickness symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting.
- Estrogen and progesterone levels start to increase in the early days of pregnancy, which can sometimes cause digestive upset and result in heartburn and nausea.
As you've likely experienced firsthand, the queasiness and digestive discomfort commonly associated with morning sickness can make it really difficult to nod off.
Thankfully, there are quite a few remedies out there that can support both your ever-changing body and a good night's rest!
Pregnancy-Safe Vitamins and Minerals To Help You Sleep Better
Dealing with pregnancy insomnia? Here are some of the best-known vitamins and minerals that may help you to get the zzzs you need.
Did you know that the majority of us, around 75%, aren’t getting the daily recommended value of magnesium? Yup, and guess what one of the most common deficiency symptoms of this oh-so calming mineral is — drum roll, please… it's insomnia.
To support a restful snooze, we suggest using a sleep-supporting magnesium lotion like our Organic Sleepy Body Lotion. This unbelievably soothing formula is organic and helps get you to sleep while battling restless legs and painful leg cramps. What's not to love?
When it comes to natural sleep aids, B vitamins are a pretty popular choice — in fact, vitamin B6, B3 and B5 are three of several vitamins that work to help regulate your body’s levels of the amino acid tryptophan (aka 5-HTP), which can affect your body’s natural melatonin levels (i.e. the hormone that helps you get to sleep).
Of course, maintaining a healthy diet at all stages of life is important, but when you're expecting, you have even more of a reason to take care of your ever-changing body to ensure your sweet pea grows into a healthy, bouncing baby.
The other B vitamins aside from the ones we highlighted above are also important aspects of your nutrition while pregnant, especially vitamin B12 and B9, which specifically work hard to minimize the risk of birth defects as well as relieve some symptoms of pregnancy — including insomnia.
More often than not, prenatal vitamins contain the perfect blend of B vitamins to give your body exactly what it needs to support the healthy development of your baby. You can also get the necessary nutrients through whole foods, such as eggs, as well as leafy green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and kale.
Iron is a key player in the blood that provides oxygenated blood to our cells and tissues. Essentially, oxygen helps to keep our energy levels up — which is why a lack of proper circulation typically tuckers us out.
In addition to fatigue, low iron levels are thought to be a major risk factor in restless leg syndrome, which is notoriously a common culprit behind sleeplessness in pregnant women.
What's more, fueling your body with enough iron can prevent iron deficiency anemia from developing — a serious concern that should not be taken lightly as it can cause your tiny tot to be born too small or too early.
Although everyone is different and, therefore, may have unique needs, the average pregnant woman should aim to get about 30 mg of iron per day to meet the new demands of extra blood volume, the developing placenta, and growing fetus.
Like B vitamins, most prenatal vitamins contain iron, so you may not need to take an additional supplement to meet the recommended daily target of 30 mg. But if you have any questions or concerns, be sure to ask your OBGYN.
What's the Verdict on Melatonin Supplements During Pregnancy?
You may have noticed that our list didn't include melatonin, the hormone we talked about briefly that's naturally produced in your brain but can also be purchased as a supplement to induce sleep.
We didn’t include it because it’s generally not recommended for pregnant women, for two reasons:
- There is no evidence to prove that it's safe to take while pregnant.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't regulate it like it does medications — so quality is not guaranteed.
Note: You can find naturally occurring melatonin in some foods, including pistachios and tart cherry juice — these food sources of melatonin are perfectly safe, it’s the supplements that are not recommended because of the lack of quality control and high dosages (melatonin supplements typically contain between 10-20mg of melatonin, roughly 30-60 times what the body naturally produces!)
So, if you’d like to use the sleepy hormone to support a good night’s rest, but don’t want to take it via supplement, reach for melatonin-rich foods throughout the day to support your body’s natural levels of melatonin.
Plus, unlike with supplements, boosting your body’s melatonin levels through foods and melatonin-promoting vitamins like the B vitamins above won’t cause daytime sleepiness or severe drowsiness.
What About Valerian Root for Pregnancy?
Although valerian root is thought to be fairly safe, there's insufficient research available on the use of this powerful herb on fetal and maternal health.
With that in mind, if you want to see if valerian root can help you sleep better, be sure to consult with your OB/GYN first. Valerian is a natural central nervous system depressant, and although it’s not addictive, it can affect mood and may even cause cognitive impairment in people who are sensitive to it. Because of this, valerian is not recommended to use on a daily basis while pregnant.
A Final Word
Sleep allows the body and mind to recharge, leaving you refreshed and alert when you wake up. It promotes healthy brain function, keeps emotions in check, reduces the risk of disease, and most importantly, supports the healthy growth of a developing baby.
Needless to say, sleep is pretty important!
To ensure you get all the wonderful zzzs you need, talk to your primary care provider about taking pregnancy-safe supplements that are known to support good sleep, such as magnesium, iron, and B complex vitamins. Your doctor can point you in the right direction of a great prenatal vitamin that contains all of the essential nutrients needed to support both your pregnancy and restful sleep.
Already taking a prenatal vitamin with all of the above? Head over to the 8 Sheep Shop for organic pregnancy products that can help you relax, wind down, and let go of that tension so you can drift off into a good night’s rest.
Disclaimer: This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice or replace the guidance of a healthcare professional. Always speak to your health provider before adding new supplements, including vitamins, into your routine.