Remedies for Trouble Sleeping While Pregnant

Treatments and Home Remedies for Pregnancy Insomnia

  1. Limit caffeinated beverages. …
  2. Drink plenty of water during the day, but stop drinking a couple of hours before bedtime so you don’t have to wake up to go to the bathroom.
  3. Ditch the screens. …
  4. Eat smaller meals more often and eat earlier.

Get the most sleep possible. Limit caffeinated beverages and set up a regular sleep schedule. Drink plenty of water during the day, but stop drinking a couple of hours before bedtime so you don’t have to wake up to go to the bathroom. Ditch the screens for 30 minutes before bed and eat smaller meals more often and eat earlier in the day — it won’t keep you awake later on.

Pregnancy can cause many of us to have trouble sleeping. When your body is growing another person, it’s normal to feel tired. Try these sleep aids from around the house and outside it.

As a pregnant woman, you have many responsibilities. One of them is sleeping. Most pregnant women experience sleep problems that can vary depending on the stage of pregnancy, hormones and stress levels.

Insomnia While Pregnant 1st Trimester

Remember when you used to shut off your bedroom light and drift right to sleep? Now that you’re pregnant, getting 8 to 9 straight hours of blissful slumber may seem like a distant dream.

If it’s not the nagging pressure on your bladder that’s keeping you awake, then it’s the gnawing backache or leg cramps, or sheer inability to get comfortable in a bed that once gently cradled you to sleep.

What makes pregnancy insomnia even harder to handle? It’s knowing that now is the time when you need sleep the most. Once your baby arrives, a good night’s rest will be even harder to come by.

Pregnancy Insomnia Causes

When you’re pregnant, many things can cause you to lose sleep, including:

  •  Backaches. As your center of gravity shifts forward, your back muscles overcompensate and become sore. Plus, your ligaments loosen thanks to pregnancy hormones, making you more likely to hurt your back.
  •  Breast tenderness. Your breasts might feel sore and tender while you’re pregnant.
  •  Gas. Pregnancy hormones slow digestion, making you feel bloated and gassy.
  •  Heartburn. Those same hormones also relax muscles in your digestive tract, making it easier for stomach acids to burn their way back up your esophagus.
  •  Hot flashes. Some pregnant women get hot flashes — when you suddenly feel very warm in your chest, face, and neck.
  •  Leg cramps and restless legs. Changes in your circulation and pressure from the baby on nerves and muscles can make your legs cramp up. You may also get a creepy-crawly feeling in your legs known as restless legs syndrome.
  •  Lots of trips to the bathroom. Having to go to the bathroom during the night happens a lot when you’re pregnant and can keep you up at night.
  •  Vivid dreams. When you’re pregnant, it’s common to have a lot of vivid dreams.
  •  Nausea or throwing up. You might feel nauseous or throw up during the night.
  •  Shortness of breath. Your growing uterus is also putting pressure on your diaphragm, which sits just under your lungs. This pressure can make it hard to catch your breath.
  •  Snoring. Your nasal passages may swell up during pregnancy, which can make you snore. Extra pressure from your growing girth can also make snoring worse. Changes like these may briefly block breathing over and over during sleep (sleep apnea).
  •  Anxiety. You’ve got a lot to think about right now with your baby on the way. The many thoughts and worries spinning through your head can keep you from sleep.
  • ons of Pregnancy Insomnia

It’s important to address pregnancy insomnia. Your body needs rest right now to care for your growing baby. Pregnancy insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea (OSU) in pregnant women may be exacerbated by smoking, obesity, age, or a family history of it and this could make you more likely to have a premature delivery, a longer labor, or a C-section delivery, all of which could put your baby at risk.

Untreated sleep apnea may also lead to pregnancy complications, such as high blood pressure, and difficulty sleeping after birth.

It may also make you more vulnerable to depression after you deliver.

Treatments and Home Remedies for Pregnancy Insomnia

Treating insomnia is a little more challenging when you’re pregnant, but it’s not impossible. Many sleep medicines aren’t considered safe for pregnant women and their babies.

Lifestyle changes — including adjustments to your sleep routine — can safely improve your sleep. Stick to a set (early) bedtime, and start with these steps.

  • Limit caffeinated beverages. Not only do they keep you awake, but they make it harder for your body to absorb the iron you and your baby need.
  • Drink plenty of water during the day, but stop drinking a couple of hours before bedtime so you don’t have to wake up to go to the bathroom.
  • Ditch the screens. Scrolling through social media on your phone or watching television on your tablet can keep you up at night.
  • Eat smaller meals more often and eat earlier.
  • Consider steering clear of heartburn triggers like chocolate, and greasy or spicy foods.
  • Avoid eating for a few hours before bedtime if you have heartburn.
  • Get out and walk for about 30 minutes a day. Exercise helps you sleep better. Just don’t exercise within 4 hours of bedtime because it can keep you awake.
  • Take short naps.
  • Take a warm bath, or ask your partner for a massage to relax you.
  • Take prenatal yoga or learn other methods to relax.
  • Talk through your worries. You can talk to a partner, a friend, or a therapist. Talking to someone can help get your anxieties off your chest.
  • Gently stretch your leg muscles before bed if you have leg cramps at night.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool at night to help you sleep.
  • Have a bedtime routine.
  • Download a sleep or meditation app on your phone.
  • Sleep on your side with your knees bent for comfort. This eases backaches, heartburn, and hemorrhoids. Sleep on your left side to improve circulation and reduce foot swelling.
  • Use extra pillows. Put one between your legs. Bunch one under the small of your back to ease pressure. Experiment.

If you’ve tried these tips and you still can’t get to sleep or stay asleep, see your doctor. You may need treatment for a sleep problem such as snoring or restless legs syndrome.

  • If you have restless legs syndrome, get plenty of folic acid and iron from your prenatal vitamins and from foods such as whole-grain breads and cereals.
  • If you’re overweight or snore, your doctor may monitor you for sleep apnea. You may need a special mask that delivers steady air pressure to keep your airway open. This helps you breathe more easily at night.
  • If you have heartburn, try over-the-counter antacids. If possible, prop up the head of your bed a few inches so acid goes back down, instead of up into your esophagus. Don’t do the propping with pillows. That can make matters worse.

Insomnia During Pregnancy and Gender

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard to drift off to sleep or stay asleep at night. This common sleep problem can also cause you to wake up too early and not able to head back to dreamland, and it may make you feel as if the sleep you did manage to get wasn’t refreshing or restorative.

Insomnia, which may affect up to 60 percent of Americans, can impact your mood, energy level, health and work performance.

When does insomnia during pregnancy start?

It’s normal to have trouble sleeping at any point during pregnancy, but many expectant women experience insomnia starting in the second to third trimesters, as other pregnancy symptoms increase, and a burgeoning baby belly makes it harder than ever to get comfortable in bed. 

Recommended Reading

Fatigue During Pregnancy

Snoring During Pregnancy

Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy

Still, first trimester woes can force you from your cozy bed and disturb precious sleep too, including morning sickness, which can happen any time of the day or night, and a constant need to pee. But if you’re worried that a case of insomnia may harm your baby, rest assured it won’t. So do your best not to fret — and sometimes, just letting go of these feelings is all it takes to help you sleep. 

What causes pregnancy insomnia?

Like many annoying pregnancy-related symptoms, insomnia can be pinned, in part, to hormonal changes. But along with this usual suspect there are also a whole host of different factors that may conspire to keep you awake at night, including:

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom
  • Pregnancy heartburnconstipation or morning sickness
  • Aches and pains, including headache, round ligament pain or tender breasts
  • Leg cramps and restless leg syndrome
  • Vivid or disturbing dreams
  • A hopped-up metabolism that keeps the heat on even when it’s off
  • Difficulty getting comfortable with your growing belly
  • Kicking, flipping and rolling from your active baby on board
  • Pre-birth anxiety and worries

How long does pregnancy insomnia last?

Since it’s possible to experience insomnia and disrupted sleep at any point during pregnancy, you may be faced with a loss of shut-eye for weeks and months with no real end point in sight. But rather than letting this sleep disorder weigh on you, check in with your doctor at your next prenatal appointment for some help and guidance.

Can you take melatonin during pregnancy? 

Melatonin, a hormone that the body creates naturally to regulate sleep-wake cycles, might seem like an easy fix for a case of insomnia. But because it’s considered a dietary supplement in this country, the regulation of melatonin isn’t as carefully overseen by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) the way other drugs are, and its impact hasn’t been well studied in pregnancy. If you’re struggling with insomnia, your doctor may approve an occasional and very small dosage (such as 1 mg).

There are also other over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids that are considered safe for occasional use in pregnancy, including Unisom, Tylenol PM, Sominex and Nytol, but always check with your doctor before taking these or any kinds of herbal preparations. You should also try not to take sleep aids every night.

Sometimes, doctors recommended taking a magnesium supplement to combat constipation or leg cramps. If that’s the case for you, it makes sense to take it before bed, since magnesium has been touted for its natural muscle-relaxing powers and may help lull you to sleep. Again, always ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter or herbal sleep aid during pregnancy.

Is insomnia harmful during pregnancy?

A lost night of sleep during pregnancy here and there isn’t usually a big concern, but continued or chronic inadequate sleep has been linked to gestational diabetes, stress and depression. Insomnia and frequent snoring also have been linked to an increased risk of giving birth to a baby that’s too large or too small for its age, and sleep issues late in pregnancy have been linked to a longer labor and a greater need for a cesarean section.

How to manage pregnancy insomnia

You’re probably getting more shut-eye than you think, but it might not feel that way if your sleep is interrupted, if you’re tossing and turning trying to find a comfortable position, or if you’re awake at night feeling anxious about the baby’s birth. To help, here are a couple of ways to manage sleeplessness.

  • Get out of bed. If you’re not asleep after 20 to 30 minutes, get up and find a small, boring task to accomplish (think bill paying for 15 minutes, not scrubbing the toilet) and then try to go to sleep again. You may just be tired enough by that point to get the rest you need.
  • Don’t count the hours. Though most people do best on about eight hours of sleep, some feel fine on less and some need more. Do some quick math and check how you’re feeling on the hours you’re getting. If you’re not chronically tired, you may be sleeping the right amount. 

How to prevent pregnancy insomnia 

You don’t have to take insomnia lying down! Instead, consider a few of the many ways you can try and beat back sleeplessness and finally summon the sandman:

  • Clear the emotional decks. If you have persistent worries that are keeping you up at night, talk about them with a friend or your partner so you can sort them out during daylight hours. You can also try meditation or writing your thoughts on paper.
  • Avoid caffeine and chocolate. Especially in the late afternoon or evening, since they can keep you awake. 
  • Eat small and early. A big meal, eaten late in the evening, can keep you from falling and staying asleep, so try to eat a lighter, earlier dinner.
  • Take your time. Don’t wolf your food down at your evening meal. A leisurely pace can help keep symptoms of heartburn at bay.
  • Top it off. A light snack before you turn in will tide you over until breakfast, but choose a healthy carb-protein pair to keep your blood sugar stable, such as a whole grain muffin and a glass of warm milk, or a cheese stick and a few dried apricots.
  • Slow the flow. Fill your daily requirement of fluids during the earlier in the day and cut back on what you’re drinking after 6 p.m. This may help to cut down on bathroom runs after you’ve hit the hay.
  • Work it out. Getting some daily pregnancy exercise can make you sleepier at night. Just avoid hitting the gym too close to bedtime, since a post-workout buzz can keep you awake.
  • Make a bedtime routine. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Craft a routine that includes activities such as: light reading, soothing music, gentle yoga poses or relaxation exercises, a warm bath, prenatal massage and sex.
  • Download sleep. There are plenty of apps that promise to help you sleep, so download some of the better-rated ones that rely on self-guided meditation, nature sounds or other white noise.
  • Try nasal strips. If you’re having trouble sleeping due to a pregnancy runny nose, nasal strips may help you breathe more easily at night.
  • Try white noise and black-out shades. Consider a machine that emits a quiet pulse or drone sound and room-darkening curtains to block light that might be keeping you up.
  • Wean off the screen. Using your phone, tablet, e-reader, TV or laptop before bed can mess with your Zzzs. The screen’s blue light alters sleepiness and alertness and suppresses levels of melatonin. Power off at least an hour before bed.
  • Air it out. Is your bedroom too cold? Is it a sauna? Check the temperature, and make sure you’re using a mattress and pillows that provide solid support without feeling like bricks. Open a window to keep the room from getting stuffy — you’re sure to heat up during the night.
  • Get comfy. There is no such thing as too many pillows during pregnancy. Use them to prop you up, support you where you need it or just cozy up to (or better yet, invest in a good pregnancy pillow). After the first trimester, you can also try snoozing upright in a recliner, which will allow you to stay on your back without lying flat.
  • Save your bed for sex and sleep. If you’re doing daytime activities in bed, you might be unwittingly associating that part of your home with being awake — and with stress. Pay your bills in the kitchen, and save the bed for two purposes only — sex and sleeping.
  • Smell your way to sleep. A lavender-scented pillow or sachet tucked into your pillowcase can help you relax and bring on sleep faster.

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