How to Get My Brain to Shut-Up and Let Me SLEEP!

Updated on July 06, 2011
J.B. asks from Laredo, TX
24 answers

I've never really been a good sleeper anyway, but now I'm 11 weeks pregnant with my 3rd child and sooo stinkin' tired. Between the already achy body, frequent pee trips, and stupid, crazy pregnancy dreams, I'm waking up a lot. The problem with that is that once I wake up, I have a hard time going back to sleep b/c my mind won't. stop. THINKING! So my question is how do I get my brain to just shut up and let me go back to sleep? Are there any techniques that you've tried that work?

Thanks in advance!

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answers from Cleveland on

Try watching Mary Poppins. I'm not kidding. That movie is like xanax for me! I have NEVER made it through the entire thing in my life. It's a good movie, I've just never been able to watch it from beginning to end! My SIL gave me that trick, and I swear, it works!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Sleepy Time Tea with honey two cups before bed, it really does work!
I hope it will for you too:)
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

What helped me was Yoga breathing (similar to mediation breathing) and visualization. You may want to look into a pre natal yoga class. It will help you from feeling so tired and achy and you can use the breathing techniques to relax and fall asleep.

If you can afford it you may also want to look into a pre natal massage from time to time, that worked wonders for me and I had no problems with swelling later in my pregnancy.

More Answers


answers from Provo on

I suffer from insomnia as well, especially when something big is going on in my life or if I am anxious. I am sure this is especially hard on you since you are pregnant. Here are just a few things I have noticed that may help you get better rest:

If I consume ANY caffeine whatsoever, even just a cup of coffee in the morning, I will not sleep well at night.
If I consume sugar in the afternoon/evening, I will not sleep well.
I slept VERY well for the month that I gave up sugar, coffee and refined flour. It is too bad that I love that stuff so much!
If I cannot sleep, the worst thing I can do is to look at my phone or get on the computer. The LED lights make it very hard for your brain to sleep. Make sure there are no lights on in your room at night. Alarm clocks, computers, etc.
Benadryl can help. A regular dose can knock me out, however it affects me for about 18 hours. I tend to be sluggish the next day, but sometimes that has been better than nothing since I have often gone 5+ days in a row with 1-2 hours sleep per night at which point I have pretty much stopped being a person!
Exercise helps me, too. I have better energy during the day and sleep better at night if I work out daily.
Consider getting a memory foam mattress topper, you can get them for around $100 on Amazon or at Sam's Club or Costco. I think that just being uncomfortable contributes a lot to not getting restful sleep.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

I have the same problem--especially when the baby wakes me up (which he is still doing 8 months later :)--I find that trying to remember my last dream is really helpful. I now make a point of trying to remember any detail from it when I wake up and then when I lay back down trying to get back into the same dream. I find that I can even recycle the same old dream for a week if necessary; I think it just takes my mind off it. Also, trying to remember the details from kind of a nice day in my life also sometimes works--I'll try and remember my friend's wedding--and then just drift off...

Of course, there's always children's benadryl which I will occasionally swill out of the bottle to get to sleep :)...and it's safe to do while pregnant...I went through a couple of bottles during my last pregnancy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Sometimes my brain won't shut off either. I have found that if you do as some other posters suggested, and limit your brains focus to one singular thing, it will relax easier, and you will most likely drift off to sleep.

For me, I sing the song My Favorite Things (Raindrops and roses, and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, etc. etc.) As I sing the song, I picture each of the items in the song. The song has a lot of imagery in it, so you can actually picture the things you are singing. And I force myself to stay focused on nothing but the imagery of the words of the song. And within no time, I'm off to sleep.

I guess I bore myself to sleep. LOL

Seriously, though, it limits my ability to obsess over all the things in my mind, since you can only focus on one thought at once.

Try it.

Good luck!

Yeah, and I take Benedryl. LOL

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I used to take one Tylenol PM !! that helped a lot and just focus on my breathing in and out ~ breath in a deep long breath and say (in your head) iiiiiiiinnnnnnnn for as long as it takes you draw in a nice loong breath.... then slowly blow a big breath out and again, in your head, say oooooouuuuuuutttttt. this always helps me!!
Good luck ! Congratulations on the baby!!!
Happy Healthy Pregnancy
Happy Healthy Delivery
Happy Healthy Baby

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

when I have trouble getting to sleep - I put on a classical radio station and then I PRETEND I'm on a beach...I start by 'stretching' my toes and relaxing them...then move up my body - my last part is my eyebrows - stretch UP then "frown" back down....

think nice calming thoughts...too!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!! On your pregnancy!!!

I hope you get some sleep!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I count backwards from 400 very slowly.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Hi Ladies,

We go through something very similar during menopause! Those wonderful hormones!!

The one thing that has always worked for me is to start praying!!
I start telling GOD everything on my mind and give each thing to HIM.
HE will tell you that I have rarely finished a prayer that I started at bedtime! Hee Hee!! OH! I almost forgot! I thank HIM and praise HIM for all of the blessings in my life. This is actually very calming and relaxing.

Hope this helps!
K. P

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

melatonin and tylenol - will make you sleepy and help with aches.
stopping the brain - meditation helps you to learn to quiet your mind. you could probably pull up a few helpful articles. one of the major things I remember, is to practice being aware of your breathing. just concentrate on your breathing. when your mind wanders, gently redirect it back to your breathing, the way you would a puppy that wandered off. I read that in a meditation book somewhere. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You could try some guided imagery cd's, just google Bellaruth Naparstack (spelling may be wrong) and she has some great ones. They have really helped me with relaxation and can help you sleep. Wishing you sweet dreams!



answers from Houston on

Benadryl is an acceptable sleep aid for pregnant mommies. and Check with your doctor but most will say it's ok.
And my favorite trick was to corral my brain into concentrating on one thing. I would start with either boys or girls names and begin with A. All the way through the alphabet I would have to think of a girls name starting with A, then B, etc. If I got trought the girl's names then I went on to boy's names. If I went through both I had to start over and not repeat names. It's easy enough to not get your brain thinking too hard but there are enough challenging letters to keep you on track. And it gave me the same thing to think about every night. And it was kind of fun!
And some nights I just went and slept on the couch, magazine in hand, reading until I passed out again.
Good luck.


answers from Pittsburgh on

What about walking a lot, get your body hormones moving around. Being pregnant you cant take sleep aides without your doctor ok-ing. I don't drink hot tea, some say that might help. Congrats to ya.



answers from Victoria on

i think that has to deal with anxiety more than anything. try telling yourself its all in Gods hands and He will help you deal with it. That usually helps me. You might look up some relaxing methods on line or some ways to naturaly overcome anxiety. good luck. congrats on your baby. hopefuly your body will change and allow you to sleep.



answers from Houston on

Have a pad of paper with a booklight next to your bed and write down any worries that may be keeping you awake. If you come up with a solution to a worry, write it down. You don't have to worry about trying to remember it once you awake.



answers from Houston on

I have this same problem and have found that listening to audiobooks helps greatly. The mystery and suspense isn't particularly helpful, but any other genre helps. Thirty minutes max and then I'm so tired. And, you can listen while laying in bed with lights off, so you don't get too disturbed when you're done and ready to go to sleep. Hope this helps!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Guided imagery helps a lot. Most people will imagine themselves on a beach or in the mountains, or something peaceful. Personally, I create stories (which sometimes get written later). The point is that you are guiding your brain to one focus, which can help it settle down and let you sleep.

So, imagine yourself on a quiet beach. Think about the sand - the color, the texture, the smell. Think about the color of the water, what it's doing, the sound of the waves, etc. Get into the small details. When your brain starts to wander off, bring it back (this takes some practice). Feel your body relax into the fantasy. And don't be surprised if you do, or don't, dream about a beach too! :)



answers from Houston on

My name is L.. I actually am in the profession that helps people with
problems like this. I will give you a way to help you that iss really effective
-without any chemicals- and will also help you with delivery.
try this every night before you go to sleep. If this does not solve your
issue I would be happy to meet with you and find out what combination
will help you. ***** Actually we have to train our brain to 'turn off' so we can
sleep, and get to the depth of sleep that we can get the rest we need. ****
This needs to be done without drugs for long term benefits that last through out your life. You really do not want to take any medications you do not have to while you are pregnant. anything that is in your blood is in your baby's blood.

If you dream alot during the night , you are not at the right level of sleep
to get the rest and healing your body needs to function..This promotes
being more tired.
OK here is your remedy:
Toe Tapping
lie down on the floor or in your bed, on your back.
Feet together. Big toes touching. Now bring the sides of your feet
to the bed or floor, as close as possilbe. Now bring your feet back to
toes touching.
Continue this movement, moving your feet apart and together. the
movement needs to start from your hips, you move your entire leg from the
hip joint, creating feet to move apart-together. Inother words don't just
move your feet.
Do this 1,000 counts or until you fall asleep while doing.
if you complete the 1,000 and have not fallen asleep, put your mind's
attention on the feeling of your feet.

If you do this, as described, you will fall asleep and go to a deeper sleep.
No pills, no cost. This also helps open your hip joints so when your
baby comes it will be easier to deliver.
If I can be of more help you can email me at
[email protected]


answers from Anchorage on

I see lots of good advise! -BUT, when i go threw this all i can think about is heating my self in the head with a hammer...- makes me CRAZY!



answers from Boston on

Just FYI - Tylenol PM has Benadryl in it to make you sleep (diphenhydramine). Besides all the good advice below, there is a way of meditation that is just opposite of the focusing on 1 thing. You actually allow all those worries and stray thoughts to come in but don't give them any attention. The imagery is that you are by a river with perhaps a nice weeping willow over it, and as your thoughts come to you, picture them falling onto a leaf that fell from the tree in the water, and watch them drifting down the river away (or over a waterfall away out of sight). Be aware of all those random thoughts coming in, but just let them come into and out of your conscious thoughts. So the shopping list for tomorrow, the bills you have to pay, the worry about a child, the worry about money, let it all come to you, even if the thought has drifted away on a leaf and comes again.
I do that, as well as measured breathing: count 1,2,3,4 while you breathe in, hold it for 1,2,3,4, then breathe out 1,2,3,4, wait 1,2,3,4, or whatever count works for you. That is similar to the focusing on 1 thing, plus you get some deep breathing done. Good luck.



answers from San Antonio on

I have terrible insomnia sometimes. I am definitely trying Lori's suggestions! I also find that when I keep myself busy doing something that I don't mind, but is kind of uninteresting, I start falling asleep. Reading a book (I use a booklight to reduce disturbing my husband) that I like,but can get boring, helps. When I had a TV in my room, I used to watch C-SPAN and that worked.

I can't listen to the advice of those who say that you shouldn't be in your bed if you are having trouble sleeping. If I go elsewhere to read, and I get tired, I will completely wake myself up walking back to the bed.


answers from Appleton on

This will probably sound bizarre, but it works.

I can't remember the name of the program, but I caught something on tv about the difference between men and women and how they think. Long story short - something was said about men having an empty box in their head vs. women having a box full of household chores, dinner planning, kids activities, planning parties and rethinking the conversation they had two days go. So I just kind of ran with the empty box thing and now I seriously think of an empty glass box and fall right to sleep....

Best of Luck with your 3rd pregnancy & hope you get some well deserved sleep soon!!



answers from Austin on

I know this may not sound great to you, but I was having such a hard time that my doc allowed me to take a very low dose of an OTC sleep medication. I resisted at first but then the exhaustion started making me get cold after cold. If you're really having trouble, consider asking your doc about something OTC to help. Good luck!

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