Like many pregnant women, Meghan Markle is reportedly struggling with insomnia. Compounded with appearances and events during her whirlwind Australian tour with Prince Harry, the Duchess of Sussex says the little royal-to-be inside of her belly is keeping her up a night. But she's found a healthy way to cope with her early pregnancy insomnia: yoga.
According to Sky News, Markle told local Charlotte Waverley that pregnancy “was like having jet lag.” “She said she was up at 4:30 a.m. this morning doing yoga in her room as she couldn’t sleep,” she said.
It isn’t surprising that Markle has turned to the zen practice to help her cope with pregnancy symptoms. Her mother, Doria Ragland, is a yoga instructor in Los Angeles. In an interview with Best Health Magazine, Markle revealed she started doing yoga with her mum when she was seven, but was “resistant” until later in life. “In college, I started doing it more regularly,” she explained.
Why do pregnant women experience sleep disturbances?
Markle isn’t the only expectant mother to experience sleep disturbance-even so early into a pregnancy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 78 percent of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than any other time in their life. Additionally, they also report feeling seriously fatigued, especially during the first and third trimesters.
Obviously Markle’s baby is in the teeny-tiny stages of development, so her sleep troubles have nothing to do with an active fetus. However, her changing hormone levels might be the reasons she's unable to sleep well. In addition, back pain, heartburn, anxiety, having to frequently urinate throughout the night and discomfort due to the increased size of your abdomen can all cause insomnia during pregnancy.
How should pregnant women treat insomnia?
The majority of doctors recommend that pregnant women refrain from taking most sleep medications. Therefore, most of their suggestions involve relaxation techniques.
Here are a few recommendations:
- Try sleeping in different positions.
- Get yourself relaxed before bed, either with a massage or hot bath.
- Make sure your room is comfortable for sleeping. You can try changing your thermostat to a comfortable temperature or playing some relaxing or natural sounds that can help induce sleep.
- Use relaxation techniques, such as those learned in childbirth class
- If you still can't fall asleep, consider getting up to read a book, eat a small snack, or drink some warm milk.
- Regularly exercise during the day.
- Consider taking short naps during the day, if possible.
Is yoga safe for pregnant women?
In short, yes. In fact, many doctors encourage pregnant women to do prenatal yoga, as studies have found it can help with everything from maintaining a lower blood pressure to having a better fetal growth rate.
However, there are certain types of yoga (Power, Ashtanga, and Bikram) as well as specific poses, especially those that involve putting pressure on your abdomen or involve jumping, twisting, or lying on your back, that pregnant women should avoid. An instructor certified in prenatal yoga will be able to help you find modifications for each pose.
As with any workout, it's always a good idea to speak with your doctor before engaging in any workout if you are pregnant.
Even if I'm not pregnant, can yoga help with insomnia?
Yes, yes and yes! According to a national survey, over 55 percent of yogis claimed that it positively helped their sleep. Yoga helps coax you into your parasympathetic response, and this sends your body signals to relax. Falling asleep is a natural by-product of a restful yoga practice. If you want to add yoga into your bedtime routine, here are some stretches that will help you sleep better - and you can even do them in bed!