Sleep Tips For Pregnancy Insomnia

5 Min Read

Last Modified 13 March 2024   First Added 31 March 2023

This article was written and reviewed in line with our editorial policy.

Pregnancy is the time when you need to keep your rest going. Your body is spending so much energy nurturing and growing the child inside, and once they’re born, sleep may well be on their schedule, not yours. It can be frustrating, then, to experience insomnia during this time. Whether you’ve suffered with it beforehand, or it’s a new phenomenon with a baby on the way, those blissful nights of rest can seem so very far away when it kicks in.

Don’t worry though; you’re not alone – insomnia during pregnancy is a common problem, with around 78% of women reporting difficulty sleeping at some point during pregnancy, according to the National Sleep Foundation. So, whether it’s caused by bathroom trips, anxiety, or simply your baby being a bit more active than you, know that this is a common experience in the journey to parenthood.

The question is, how can we help manage it? Let’s get into the details.

What is insomnia?

Before we tackle the problem, we need to know what we’re dealing with. Now, we’ve talked about what insomnia is and how to beat it before, but as a quick overview:

  • Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • This can be a seasonal, hormonal or a life-long disorder
  • It can impact your day-to-day functions, keeping you exhausted and making concentrating difficult
  • If you have insomnia, you may lie awake at night for long periods, wake up several times, and feel unrefreshed after sleep

There’s a lot more to the subject, but this gives us a key look at the critical point: Insomnia makes sleeping hard. And, especially when you’re pregnant, you need sleep to function and keep healthy.

When does pregnancy insomnia happen?

There’s no single answer to this question, sadly. While it can often be trickier to sleep by the time you enter the third trimester, what with the size of the little one in your baby belly, some parents-to-be experience insomnia in the first trimester due to morning sickness or a constant need for the bathroom.

The big tip here is to be aware of what your normal sleep cycle is, and note if you’re consistently shifted out of it. Changes will come, and you may find yourself unable to get all the rest you deserve. Just know that you can only do your best, and that your baby will be fine.

pregnant woman holding their belly with a white dress on, their face not visible

What causes pregnancy insomnia?

Much as with regular insomnia, there’s a myriad of potential reasons for pregnancy insomnia to rear up. We’ve covered some already, but here’s a list of factors, including those from medical research published to the National Library of Medicine:

  • Bathroom trips
  • Morning sickness
  • Breathing-related sleep disorders
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Nightmares or vivid dreams
  • General anxiety and worries
  • Aches and pains
  • Your baby moving about at night
  • Difficulty finding a sleeping position with a baby belly

Bear in mind this isn’t all-inclusive, and you may experience something not on this list. It should, however, be handy to clue you in to when insomnia has kicked in.

Tips for tackling pregnancy insomnia

Now, there’s a lot of good advice for general insomnia, but when it comes to pregnancy insomnia, there are some extra steps worth considering. Here are a few of our favourites:

1. Use pillows to support your body

It’s important to maintain the right support as you sleep, and this is truer still when pregnant. It can be difficult to find the right position, however, so using pillows to take the weight off can help. Give extra support to your belly, back and legs, and consider investing in a pregnancy pillow to wrap fully around you.

2. Manage your meals

Sometimes, shifting a diet to eating smaller and earlier can help you rest better. Eating too late and too large can make it trickier to get to sleep, so a smaller meal followed by a light snack before you go to bed can be the key to a better night’s sleep.

3. Drink more, but earlier

You need to stay hydrated, but sometimes we all rush our daily water intake until it’s close to bed time. With your little one putting pressure on your body, that’s spelling bathroom trips throughout the night. Try instead to keep drinking more regularly throughout the day, and cut back on liquids a good few hours before bed.

4. Keep active

It can be hard to stay active as pregnancy goes on, but do your best to wear down your energy levels a little. 30 minutes a day should help you sleep better but try to keep it away from the evenings.

5. Keep your room the right temperature

Last, but certainly not least, your bedroom needs to be just right in this department for sleep. Check for good airflow, and adjust the surroundings to help keep it warmer or cooler. Extra blankets make a cosy barrier, and an open window can keep the heat down if it’s a bit much.

All in all, there’s no one way to beat pregnancy insomnia, but there’s a lot that can be done to help you manage it better. Making a good routine, keeping yourself comfortable, being fed and hydrated, and even keeping things ambient – all this ties into getting the best rest you can. Remember, getting enough rest is essential for you as you go through this experience.

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