April 20, 2023

Causes of Insomnia During Pregnancy

pregnancy insomnia
It’s normal to have trouble sleeping occasionally. But you may have insomnia if you frequently don’t get enough good-quality sleep. This can include having difficulty falling asleep, waking up often, having trouble returning to sleep, and experiencing sleep that doesn’t refresh you.

Insomnia is very common in pregnant people — nearly 80% experience it. If you have pregnancy insomnia, it’s important to understand that it’s not harming your baby. You may find it concerning, and it may leave you feeling exhausted, but your baby isn’t suffering any ill effects from it.

Still, you should learn more about insomnia and talk with your doctor if it persists.   

Why Being Pregnant Makes It Difficult to Sleep

Many aspects of pregnancy can interfere with getting enough sleep. Some of the most common issues are:

  • Back pain
  • Heartburn
  • Trouble getting comfortable due to changes in your body shape
  • Hormonal changes
  • Frequent nighttime urination
  • Sleep apnea
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Vivid dreams
    Baby’s movements
  • Excitement or anxiety over your baby’s arrival

The Evolution of Pregnancy Insomnia

Each person’s experience with pregnancy insomnia is different, but typically the condition evolves throughout the pregnancy. 

First trimester

The first episodes of insomnia generally occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. At that point, the condition is likely caused by rapid changes in hormone levels. 

However, some pregnant people experience hypersomnolence or excessive sleepiness in the first trimester and get more sleep than usual.

Second trimester

Late in the second trimester, total nighttime sleep falls. This includes increasing instances of sleep interruption due to digestive upset and heartburn

Third trimester

Nearly every pregnant person reports sleep difficulties in the third trimester. However, despite increased awakenings and other issues, total sleep time tends to approach pre-pregnancy levels.

How to Manage Pregnancy Insomnia

Doctors can prescribe medication or behavioral therapy to help with sleep. They may also recommend over-the-counter sleep medications. But typically, they advise patients to try natural remedies first. 

For example, these practices may help you get more and higher-quality sleep:

  • Get adequate physical activity during the day.
  • Try different sleeping positions to reduce the occurrence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), accommodate your growing belly, etc.
  • Ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and comfortably cool.
  • Take a relaxing warm bath before bedtime. 
  • Avoid screens for at least a few hours before you lay down.
  • Play soft music or nature sounds that make you sleepy as you get ready for bed.
  • Avoid “fighting” your insomnia. If you can’t fall asleep, consider getting out of bed and having a small snack, reading a book, etc., until you feel sleepy. 

Napping during the day may make it harder to sleep that night. However, if you simply must get some rest, you shouldn’t hesitate to take a nap. 

Postpartum Insomnia

As pregnant people know, the birth of their baby isn’t the end of their insomnia! The baby’s nighttime feedings and other awakenings continue to take a toll on everyone’s sleep levels. Fortunately, the older a baby gets, the more they tend to sleep at night.  

Get Help with Pregnancy Insomnia

If you’re pregnant and struggling to get enough restful sleep, you should tell your doctor. Our mother and baby care experts can help!

Whether you get results from natural remedies or need the occasional sleeping aid during pregnancy, it’s vital to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being that you get adequate sleep. Your insomnia won’t hurt your baby, but it’s a treatable condition, so you should take action to address it for your sake. That way, you can feel happier and more energized throughout your pregnancy.

Learn More.