Sleep is a vital part of life, and getting enough of it is essential for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. But getting enough sleep while growing a tiny human? That’s a tough call for many.
Expecting mothers commonly experience difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and difficulty staying asleep. Hormonal changes, physical discomfort, anxiety, and other factors can cause these issues.
Needless to say, pregnant women are especially vulnerable to sleep disturbances. Sleep aids can help relieve these issues, allowing for a decent night’s rest.
Sleep aids work by calming the mind and body, helping the user to drift off to sleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. But can these be used if you’re expecting?
Can Pregnant Women Take Sleep Aids?
Many women have reported taking a sleep aid while pregnant, but only 10% of those surveyed have said they did not take a sleep aid while expecting. Pregnant women should always consult with their doctor before taking a sleep aid. Your doctor can advise which sleep aid you can try and which you should avoid.
Types of Sleep Aids for Pregnant Women
However, if you have trouble sleeping despite taking measures to improve sleep hygiene and lifestyle changes, then certain prescription medications may be an option. Over 90% of pregnant women report taking over-the-counter sleep aids, such as melatonin supplements and antihistamines, on occasion when they have difficulty sleeping.
Because pregnant women are often excluded from clinical trials, there is no scientific consensus on whether many sleep aids pose any risks to them. We know this doesn’t make it any easier when looking for an answer, but if you’re expecting and struggling to sleep, you consult a doctor before taking any new medications, supplements, or sleep aids.
Some expecting mothers have used the following sleep aids, so we thought we’d include them here so you can decide for yourself (in combination with your doctor’s recommendation, of course).
Melatonin is a hormone that the human body naturally produces, and taking melatonin supplements helps some people fall asleep more easily.
Melatonin supplements may be prescribed for pregnant people who continue to have trouble falling asleep even after trying non-medication alternatives. About 4% of women report using melatonin during pregnancy, although it is not yet known how safe this practice really is.
However, studies have found that melatonin supplements can cross the placenta and raise fetal hormone levels. Some experts fear this may disrupt standard sleep patterns once these babies are born.
Furthermore, the FDA does not regulate melatonin supplements, so there is a risk that they may contain inconsistent doses or ingredients.
Antihistamines are a type of medication commonly used to treat allergies. They're also used as ingredients in over-the-counter sleep aids intended to help people with occasional sleeplessness—and they can cause drowsiness as a side effect.
According to the American College of OBGYN, there are a few OTC allergy medications safe for expecting mothers, including:
Overall, more work is needed to determine whether these drugs can be safely used as sleep aids by pregnant women and how such use might affect their babies' health later in life. Always contact your doctor before taking antihistamines, especially during the first trimester.
Can I Take Sleep Aids While Pregnant?
It is important to note that not all sleep aids should be taken during pregnancy. The potential risks of taking sleep aids during pregnancy are not clearly understood, so it is important to consult a physician before taking any sleep aid while pregnant.
If you’re pregnant and suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, your doctor may suggest taking a sleep aid to get the rest you need for a healthy pregnancy.
Alternatives to Sleep Aids for Pregnant Women
Did you know you could improve your sleep by making a few lifestyle tweaks? There’s no conclusion science behind them, but if you’re desperate for some rest, it couldn’t hurt to try these tips:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Avoid excessive caffeine and reduce alcohol before bedtime.
- Reduce stress.
- Increase physical activity.
- Avoid eating large meals before bedtime.
- Keep your bedroom comfortable and dark.
While there are a few mentions that didn’t make the list, CBT (or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is one that needs an honorable mention.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) is a type of therapy that helps people identify and modify their thoughts and behaviors related to sleep. CBT-I could help pregnant women with sleep issues by teaching them how to regulate their sleep patterns and create a healthier sleep environment.
Additionally, CBT-I helps pregnant women learn relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, to reduce stress and better manage their sleep issues.
What can you take to help you sleep while pregnant?
Certain sleep aids based on melatonin or antihistamines are suggested for those pregnant women seeking something to help them sleep.
Can you take sleep aid pills while pregnant?
Diphenhydramine and doxylamine, the two antihistamines that are safe to take during pregnancy, should be taken at recommended doses, but always consult your doctor before taking anything new. Benadryl, Diclegis, Sominex, and Unisom contain these ingredients.
Can you take melatonin while pregnant?
There is insufficient research to confirm that taking melatonin supplements while pregnant will not affect the developing fetus. That being said, some experts suggest melatonin for pregnant women, while others advise against it.
Sleeping While Expecting: What Sleep Aid Can You Take?
Before you take any sleep aid, you should confer with your trusted doctor. There are a few options out there, so while you can research and see which you’d prefer, always take your doctor’s advice when making your decision.
Natural sleep aids, like Sleep Stick, are an excellent option for people seeking a natural alternative to OTC medications. Developed by a doctor to ensure people have access to a safe and natural sleep aid that actually works, the Sleep Stick will help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another day.
Disclaimer: This website's content is solely intended for providing information and SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. It is not meant to replace the opinion, diagnosis, or treatment of a qualified healthcare professional. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, always consult with your physician or other healthcare provider.
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