Troubles Sleeping While Pregnant

It’s normal to have trouble sleeping while pregnant, but the sleeplessness can be especially bad in the second to third trimesters, as often you’re dealing with other pregnancy symptoms like heartburn and constipation that make it hard to get comfortable. Combine that with a burgeoning baby belly, and it’s no wonder why so many women experience insomnia during pregnancy.

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.

Some women have trouble sleeping while pregnant, a condition that often begins around the second or third trimester. A few tips to help you get better sleep: Make sure your mattress is comfortable, use light blankets and pillows, take a shower before bedtime, drink water before going to sleep and avoid caffeine after noon.

Don’t assume that you’re the only expectant mom who has trouble sleeping through the night. Many women find themselves reliving their pregnancy symptoms until wee hours of the morning and waking up exhausted. To get you on track toward zzzs, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help if insomnia hasn’t improved by itself in a few weeks.

Talk to your doctor about any problems sleeping, and seek help if the problems persist. If you’re tired of tossing and turning at night, here are some tried-and-true tips for getting a better night’s sleep when you’re pregnant—and some unexpected ways that pregnancy can affect your sleep patterns

Sleep trouble in pregnancy isn’t just inconvenient — it can be downright dangerous. Snoring, sleep apnea and untreated insomnia all increase the chance of premature birth and low birth weight, which are significant contributors to infant mortality. But you don’t have to toss and turn when there’s a safer, better alternative. The Somnomedic is the only product of its kind to address all three problems: it helps you avoid snoring, stop apnea attacks, and get sound slumber every night.

Trouble Sleeping Early Pregnancy Sign

It’s common to feel tired, or even exhausted, during pregnancy, especially in the first 12 weeks.

Hormonal changes at this time can make you feel tired, nauseous and emotional. The only answer is to rest as much as possible.

Make time to sit with your feet up during the day, and accept any offers of help from colleagues and family.

Being tired and run-down can make you feel low. Try to look after your physical health – make sure you eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of rest and sleep.

Later in pregnancy, you may feel tired because of the extra weight you’re carrying. Make sure you get plenty of rest.

As your bump gets bigger, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep. You might find that lying down is uncomfortable or that you need to use the loo a lot.

Feeling tired will not harm you or your baby, but it can make life feel more difficult, especially in the early days before you’ve told people about your pregnancy.

Strange dreams during pregnancy

You may have strange dreams or nightmares about the baby, and about labour and birth. This is normal.

Talking about them with your partner or midwife can help. Remember, just because you dream something, it does not mean it’s going to happen. Relaxation and breathing techniques may be helpful in reducing any anxiety you might be feeling.

Bump-friendly sleep positions 

The safest position to go to sleep is on your side, either left or right. Research suggests that, after 28 weeks, falling asleep on your back can double the risk of stillbirth. This may be to do with the flow of blood and oxygen to the baby.

Do not worry if you wake up on your back – the research looked at the position pregnant people fell asleep in, as this is the position we keep for longest. If you wake up on your back, you can just turn over and go to sleep again on your side.

You can try supporting your bump with pillows and putting a pillow between your knees.

The baby charity Tommy’s has a video about safer sleeping in pregnancy.

Insomnia remedies in pregnancy

Try not to let it bother you if you cannot sleep, and do not worry that it will harm your baby – it will not. If you can, nap during the day and get some early nights during the week.

Avoid tea, coffee or cola drinks in the evening, as the caffeine can make it harder to go to sleep.

Try to relax before bedtime so you’re not wide awake. Relaxation techniques may also help, ask your midwife for advice. Your antenatal classes may teach you some techniques, or you could use a pregnancy relaxion CD or DVD.

You could join an antenatal yoga or pilates class. Make sure the instructor knows you’re pregnant. Exercise can help you feel less tired, so try to do some activity, such as a walk at lunchtime or going swimming, even if you feel tired during the day.

If lack of sleep is bothering you, talk to your partner, a friend, doctor or midwife.

Read about preventing insomnia, including daytime habits, such as exercising, and bedtime habits, such as avoiding caffeine.

Medical reasons for insomnia in pregnancy

Occasionally, sleeplessness – when accompanied by other symptoms – can be a sign of depression. If you have any of the other symptoms of depression, such as feeling hopeless and losing interest in the things you used to enjoy, speak to your doctor or midwife. There is treatment that can help. 

Read about mental health in pregnancy. has videos and written articles of people talking about their symptoms and feelings in the early weeks of pregnancy, including tiredness.

Does Sleeping During Pregnancy Help Baby Grow

Not being able to get to sleep – or stay asleep – is a common problem in pregnancy. For your sake and your baby’s, it’s a good idea to experiment with some solutions, such as making sure your room is dark, avoiding screen time close to bed, and investing in some good pregnancy pillows. Try not to worry, but do talk with your healthcare provider if the problem persists.

pregnant woman lying in a bed and using her phone

Photo credit: Nathan Haniger for BabyCenter


Why pregnancy insomnia happens

Many pregnant women say it’s hard to sleep because they can’t get comfortableneed to run to the bathroom constantly, have leg cramps, and are excited – and anxious – about their baby’s arrival.

And things don’t usually improve as pregnancy progresses. With so many physical and emotional changes happening, it’s no surprise that 2 out of 3 women have insomnia and other sleep problems by late pregnancy. Misery may love company, but it won’t provide much comfort when you’re watching the numbers on your clock change in the middle of the night.

Will insomnia during pregnancy harm my baby?

It’s understandable to assume that if you aren’t sleeping well, your baby isn’t either. But relax – your baby sleeps even when you’re wide awake.

Your baby’s health is at risk, however, if your insomnia during pregnancy affects your ability to function. If you fall asleep while driving, or exhaustion leads you to stumble or fall, your baby could pay the price.

Furthermore, research has found that women who have chronically disturbed sleep during pregnancy are at greater risk of gestational diabetespreterm birthdepression, longer labor, and cesarean section. So it’s well worth doing what you can to sleep well.

What you can do about pregnancy insomnia

  • Start winding down before bed with some sort of soothing ritual. Take a warm bath, have a cup of pregnancy-safe herbal tea, listen to quiet music, ask your partner to rub your feet – whatever helps you relax.
  • Once you’re in bed, progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery can help you sink into sleep. For more details, see our article on the basics of good sleep during pregnancy.
  • Make sure your room is a comfortable temperature for sleeping. Is it dark and quiet enough? Heavy or dark-colored curtains can help keep out unwanted light, and sound machines can help mask the drone of traffic with white noise.
  • Avoid eating a big meal close to bedtime. And if frequent urination is a problem, cut down on beverages at night, too.
  • Turn off your TV, close your laptop, and put away your phone at least an hour before you hope to doze off. (The blue light on the screens can disturb your cycles of sleepiness and alertness.)
  • Gather pillows to help you get comfortable. When you’re pregnant, it’s especially important to find the right support so that you can relax. Experiment with sleeping positions and different pillows

How to sleep like a baby when you’re expecting one

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Get comfy and sleep soundly during pregnancy with two sleep positions that accommodate your growing belly.

When sleep doesn’t come quickly, try not to worry. Becoming increasingly anxious as the minutes creep by only makes the problem worse – and leaves you feeling wrecked the next day.

If you aren’t asleep 20 to 30 minutes after getting into bed, get up and go into another room. Read a magazine or listen to music until you feel drowsy, maybe have a light snack or cup of warm milk, and then get back in bed.

If you regularly have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor or midwife. While it’s generally better not to take sleep medication during pregnancy, your practitioner can help you weigh the risks and benefits of the safest over-the-counter or prescription sleep medication for you to take while you’re pregnant. (Note: Melatonin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding isn’t recommended.) In the meantime, remind yourself that insomnia may be frustrating, but it’s not uncommon during pregnancy.

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