Insomnia and Pregnancy: Pregnant Women Experience Sleep Issues

Insomnia and Pregnancy: Pregnant Women Experience Sleep Issues

Insomnia and Pregnancy: Pregnant Women Experience Sleep Issues

You probably heard of the sleepless nights a new mom experiences once the bundle of joy arrives. However, sleep issues are also symptomatic of expectant moms: Approximately 78% of pregnant women experience sleep issues. While the expectant mom may not be sleeping well or has insomnia, it does not affect the baby.

Tiredness during the first trimester is common as is the decline in the quality of sleep. And for many pregnant women, sleep disturbances can continue throughout the pregnancy. But, don't despair some tips can help.

Poor sleep can manifest as:

  • Struggling to fall asleep

  • Intermittent sleep during the night

  • Unable to return to sleep once awakened

  • Sleeplessness

  • Not feeling refreshed upon waking

Causes of Sleep Disturbances During Pregnancy

Women in general tend to have more problems with insomnia than men, so this partially explains why women may also have sleep issues during pregnancy. On top of it, in the first trimester, hormones are being ramped up to prepare the body for the nine months of gestation.

Progesterone and estrogen levels rise rapidly in the first trimester. In fact, in the first trimester, a woman will produce more estrogen than she does in her entire life. This rise in hormones contributes to exhaustion as well as sleeplessness.

While the fluctuating hormones level off after the first trimester, other influences on the body contribute to sleep disturbances. Some of them are:

  • Frequent urination

  • Indigestion issues like heartburn and gas

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Back pain

  • Heavy belly and abdominal uneasiness

  • Intense dreams and nightmares

  • Restless leg syndrome and leg cramps

  • Pregnancy snoring

  • Anxiety and worry about pregnancy or becoming a parent

Tips to Get a Goodnight Sleep During Pregnancy

While not much can be done about shifting hormones and their contribution to sleeplessness, these suggestions may help:

Discuss Worries and Feelings

Worrying can keep you awake at night when not pregnant, add fluctuating hormones and other pregnancy discomforts, and you have a perfect storm for insomnia. So, it's important to share with your partner and your obstetrician your apprehensions. Your doctor can alleviate a lot of the pregnancy anxieties. Sharing concerns with your partner will help you feel better. Journaling about your pregnancy may also help.

Get Comfy in Bed

Elevate your head to reduce acid reflux and pregnancy snoring. Also, saline sprays, nasal strip, and a cool mist humidifier may help with nasal congestion caused by increased hormone levels and weight gain. Pillows placed between the knees and one under your belly as it grows will help make you more comfortable as you sleep.

Employ Relaxation Techniques

Meditation, gentle yoga like restorative poses, warm baths (not hot), and massages can help to relieve stress and relax you, which helps to lull you to sleep. Read a book or listen to music before going to bed instead of watching TV.

Redesign Your Bedroom to Promote Sleep

Remove electronic devices. Turn down the thermostat and the shades: Cool and a dark room are sleeping inducing. Listen to relaxing music. Sleep train young children who may be sharing your bed. Toddlers in bed with you will not encourage sleep and will interfere with it.

Cognitive and Behavioral Therapies

If insomnia is really affecting the quality of life, a cognitive and behavioral therapist may be able to help.

Hydrate and Eat Sleep-Friendly Foods

Drink plenty of water to reduce leg cramps that can keep you awake. Eating dinner early and slowly can reduce the chance of heartburn and other digestive issues. A light snack before bed that contains protein will keep glucose levels even throughout the night. Avoid caffeine from the afternoon on and reduce sugar consumption to keep blood levels steady.

Have a Bedtime Routine

Some of the suggestion for pregnancy insomnia are recommendations for anyone having sleep issues, such as having a bedtime routine. Blue light from electronic devices and TV can disrupt circadian rhythm, so turn them off at least two hours before bedtime. Begin your sleep routine with something to help you relax. One of the essential bedtime routines is to go to bed the same time each night.


Research shows that regular exercise can reduce insomnia and it can also help with restless-leg symptoms. Sleep studies show that two and a half hours of moderate aerobic exercise along with some resistance training helps with sleep. Check with your doctor for the type of workout he recommends.

Getting a good night's sleep during pregnancy can be challenging. But, incorporating some relaxing ideas that help you to get comfortable can help you meet the challenge and have a good night’s sleep.

Causes and Suggestions to Induce Sleep are for educational purpose only.


Chen, Jenny. Women, Are Your Hormones Keeping You Up at Night? (July 10, 2017). Retrieved from

Insomnia During Pregnancy,

LaMotte, Sandee. The healthiest way to improve your sleep: exercise

Timmons, Jessica, Reviewed by Wilson Rose Debra, Ph.D., MSN, RN. How to Kick Insomnia in Early Pregnancy (January 10, 2018). Retrieved from

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