Tossing, Turning & Expecting: Insomnia During Pregnancy

Struggling with sleepless nights during pregnancy? Discover why it happens and get expert tips to enjoy restful sleep again.


Find solace in slumber with these sleep-inducing strategies  

There's an unspoken rule that seems to come with pregnancy: as your belly grows, your nights of uninterrupted sleep shrink. You're not alone if you find yourself part of the midnight club, scrolling through tips for better sleep while the rest of the house is dreaming away.  
In fact, it's reported that a staggering three-quarters of pregnant women grapple with sleep issues at some point. But what's behind this nocturnal upheaval, and can anything be done to ease those long, sleepless nights? This isn't just about comfort; it's about health—for you and your baby. So let's explore the causes of insomnia during pregnancy and explore some strategies to help you and your little one rest easy. 

Poor sleep sometimes comes before baby is born 

It's easy to think that sleepless nights are reserved for the post-baby phase, but surprise—many moms-to-be find themselves tossing and turning way before the little one makes an entrance. With around 60% of expectant moms struggling to catch some Zs, it's clear that pregnancy can pose a problem for sleep.  
Between the hormonal rollercoasters and getting comfy with a growing bump, it's no wonder that peaceful nights become a thing of the past. This whole ordeal is known as pregnancy insomnia, and it's got many on the hunt for some much-needed shut-eye solutions. 

Causes of insomnia during pregnancy:

  • 1st Trimester 
    Hormonal surges, particularly in progesterone, cause nausea and discomfort at night. 

  • 2nd Trimester:
    Changes in blood circulation and pressure from the growing uterus can cause leg cramps, while heartburn can also occur.
  • 3rd Trimester:
    Changes in the body can make regular sleeping positions uncomfortable, and levels of anxiety/excitement about the baby’s arrival increase. 

Throughout pregnancy, sleep can become a challenge, starting in the first trimester with hormonal surges—particularly in progesterone—that can cause nausea and discomfort. These hormonal changes are key for supporting the pregnancy but can have the side effect of sleep disturbance. 
The second trimester often offers a break from the earlier discomforts, but new sleep challenges can emerge. Leg cramps might kick in, often linked to the growing uterus exerting pressure and affecting circulation. Heartburn can also sneak up, making nights uncomfortable as relaxed esophagus muscles, thanks to pregnancy hormones, struggle to keep stomach acids at bay. 
The final trimester ramps up the sleep challenges: the bigger belly makes finding a comfortable sleeping position tough, frequent bathroom trips disrupt sleep, and there's often a mix of excitement and anxiety about the baby's arrival.

How insomnia affects overall health during pregnancy

Poor sleep during pregnancy doesn't just leave you feeling tired and weary; it can have significant effects on both maternal and fetal health. For moms-to-be, ongoing sleep deprivation can heighten the risk of conditions like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. It may also contribute to longer labor and an increased likelihood of cesarean delivery.  
For the developing baby, the repercussions can include altered growth patterns and potentially impacting overall fetal health. The long-term impact isn't just physical—persistent sleep issues can affect emotional well-being, raising the risk of postpartum depression. With all of that in mind, prioritizing sleep and taking the necessary steps to combat insomnia becomes a crucial part of prenatal care.  

Coping strategies for better sleep during pregnancy

Getting comfy and catching enough Zs while pregnant can be incredibly challenging, but there are some at-home strategies you can try to help combat insomnia symptoms.  

  1. Consider a specialized pregnancy pillow to cradle your changing body. 

  2. Opt for snacks like almonds or a small bowl of whole-grain cereal before bed, which can be both soothing and nutritious.

  3. Try prenatal yoga. It not only may improve sleep but also connect you with your baby in a meaningful way.

  4. Give mindfulness practices tailored for expectant mothers a go. It might help you find calm in the whirlwind of pregnancy.

  5. Adapt your sleeping area with softer lighting and more pillows to create a cozy nest for rest.

  6. Use a sleep tracker as your nightly diary, revealing patterns and guiding adjustments for better rest. 

See these sleep adjustments as your personal toolkit in the gentle battle with pregnancy insomnia, small yet significant steps towards restful nights. 

When to seek professional help for pregnancy insomnia 

If your sleep struggles become overwhelming or if you notice your daytime functioning is severely impacted, it might be time to reach out for help. Healthcare providers or sleep specialists can offer tailored advice and treatment options. They can help rule out other sleep disorders or pregnancy-related conditions that might be affecting your sleep. Don't hesitate to ask for support; managing severe insomnia effectively often requires professional insight.

You’ve got this 

Getting quality sleep now is all about charging your batteries for the exciting journey ahead with your new arrival. If sleep evades you, remember, support is just around the corner with professionals ready to guide you to better rest. Here's to restful nights and energized days as you prepare for your little one's debut. 


Written by

Georgia Austin

Professionally trained copywriter, editor, and content marketing strategist with over 7 years of experience—working with brands like Nike, Siemens, Toshiba, Tommy Hilfiger, Culture Trip, and Klook.

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