Pregnancy fills the life of expectant parents with hopes, worries, expectations, lots of anticipation, and love. While you probably have thought that you are going to have countless sleep-deprived nights when the baby finally arrives, what you didn’t anticipate was the sleepless nights that you are experiencing during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy insomnia can occur at any time during the pregnancy but a lot of women report first trimester and third trimester to be the most challenging. You are probably feeling exhausted during the daytime but your body resists going to sleep during the night.
What is pregnancy insomnia?
- Pregnancy insomnia refers to the state of being unable to sleep during the night or having poor quality or an inadequate amount of sleep during the pregnancy.
- Not all women experience pregnancy insomnia the same way. While some face difficulty in falling asleep others fall asleep but have a very poor quality of sleep or gets up too early.
- Pregnant women often report that they are going to bed early and yet feeling exhausted and tired the next day due to pregnancy insomnia.
What are the symptoms of pregnancy insomnia?
- Doctors report that pregnancy insomnia caused due to weight gain generally occurs further along with the pregnancy.
- By the third trimester, pregnant women have to accommodate the large baby bump and that often makes sleeping uncomfortable.
- Pregnancy insomnia caused due to anxiety or stress of the impending parenthood can occur earlier during the first trimester of the pregnancy.
- During pregnancy, your body starts to work overtime to make way for the growing baby and that leads to the feeling of exhaustion and tiredness. It may not exactly be pregnancy insomnia if you are sleeping but waking up feeling tired and exhausted. It could just be the other pregnancy symptom of fatigue.
- If you can’t seem to drift off to sleep at all, it may be pregnancy Insomnia.
Insomnia causes while being pregnant
Some of the factors that may contribute to pregnancy insomnia are
- Changing sleeping position-
This one is not applicable if you are experiencing insomnia in your first trimester as you have a smaller baby bump. As pregnancy progresses the baby bump becomes large and the usual sleeping positions aren’t comfortable anymore. You have to change your sleeping position which may disrupt your sleeping abilities and it may take some days for you to find a comfortable sleeping position.
- Back pain-
As your due date approaches, your body will start to prepare the hip and pelvis and your posture will change to give way for your baby. All these changes often put more pressure on the back and cause back pain.
- Frequent urination-
Fluctuating hormonal levels and the pressure on your urinary bladder will cause you to urinate frequently during the night and you will have to wake up time and again just to relieve yourself. Frequent urination can be a cause of inadequate or poor quality of sleep.
If you lay awake anxious about the impending parenthood or worried about your baby, it will be very difficult to drift off to sleep. You are likely to be waking up in the middle of the night if you are experiencing anxiety-driven pregnancy insomnia.
- Hormonal fluctuations-
Your whole body is going to change and the hormones are going to fluctuate dramatically during pregnancy.
It is quite difficult to go to sleep when heartburn and indigestion are making you even more uncomfortable.
Some other causes include strange and vivid dreams, leg cramps, breast tenderness, nausea, sleep apnea, and gestational diabetes.
What are the treatments for pregnancy insomnia?
- Develop a consistent bedtime routine and a consistent waking time-
Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at a regular time and try to stick to that time. The same goes for waking up. If you form a consistent sleeping pattern your body will more than likely be habituated to fall asleep during that time.
- Sleep in a cool dark and quiet bedroom-
A bedroom with lesser distractions and bright lights will make it easier for your body to go to sleep. Keep a flashlight nearby for those midnight bathroom emergencies.
- Have shorter naps during day time-
It is important to catch a nap during day time during pregnancy. However, you must keep the naps short to be able to get adequate sleep during the night.
- Stay active during the day-
Even though it is difficult to exercise and stay active during pregnancy, exercising during the day and having an active schedule will make it easier for you to sleep well at night.
- Keep your nighttime meals shorter-
Having big meals right before going to bed often triggers indigestion and heartburn. Eat small servings of high protein snacks before bed. You should never go to bed hungry.
- Try relaxation techniques-
Try to make your body learn the sleeping cues by taking a warm bath or doing some relaxing meditation before going to bed so that your brain knows when to get ready for sleep.
- Keep your phone, laptop or other LED devices away before going to bed-
You should limit your screen time and keep the electronic devices away at least a few hours before going to bed so that the secretion of melatonin which helps you to sleep is not distracted.
- Keep yourself busy-
If you are unable to fall asleep, get up from the bed and distract yourself by reading a book or listening to music, until you feel sleepy.
- Stay hydrated-
You should drink at least 6 glasses of water during the day. Limit your fluid intake after 7 p.m to minimize the midnight bathroom breaks.
Pregnancy insomnia is a common occurrence and there are multiple natural remedies that can help you to get enough and better quality sleep. Remember to discuss your sleeping troubles with your doctor.
Frequent Asked Questions on Coping with Pregnancy Insomnia
1. Is my pregnancy insomnia harmful to my baby?
This is a common misconception but pregnancy insomnia is not at all harmful for your baby and it is a normal phenomenon during pregnancy. However, if your pregnancy insomnia continues to get progressively worse, you need to consult your doctor as if there might be an underlying problem that is causing insomnia.
2. How is pregnancy insomnia diagnosed?
Diagnosis pregnancy Insomnia doesn’t involve any clinical exam such as a blood test. The doctor is going to ask the pregnant patient a few questions regarding the difference between the number of hours that she slept prior to pregnancy and the hours she is sleeping during the pregnancy. The doctor will also check for other symptoms that cause insomnia. Doctors generally check for lack of focus, headaches, and slower reflexes.
3. Should I take sleeping pills for my pregnancy insomnia?
Only use doctor prescribed pregnancy-safe sleeping pills. However, there are multiple natural remedies such as drinking chamomile tea or following proper sleeping hygiene which can easily help you to get better sleep. You may even try therapy to deal with anxiety which will help you to get better sleep.
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Mother of Two children. I’m a former teacher with a background in child development and a passion for Good parenting. I understand child development and know how to develop activities to help children learn and grow. Spare time, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and volunteering in my community.