Skip to Content

Pregnancy and Insomnia

Pregnancy and Insomnia

Hooray! You’re almost done with your pregnancy! Your hospital bags are packed, you’re at the doctor’s every week, everything is set up for the new baby, and now all you need to do is relax. But then that insomnia kicks in.

Now what? You crawl into bed because the doctors keep telling you to get as much rest as possible and curl up to go to sleep. An hour later, you’re still watching the clock tick by. How are you supposed to get more rest when you can’t sleep?

It always seems to happen to pregnant women in their third trimester, but any sleep disturbances or sleep disorders can happen in the first trimester or the second trimester. Insomnia does not discriminate.

It may take you several weeks to learn to deal with this, or perhaps it will only take a few days to handle your pregnancy insomnia. Either way, you will adjust to it and soon learn to see this as more of an opportunity than a burden.

A pregnant lady with text overlay.

How many times do you go to bed at night thinking of how much you didn’t get done that day? Use this. When you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, get up. Get something to eat and start doing things that you wished you had done earlier. Do laundry, pick up the house, run errands if you need to. 

Depending on how much time you have or if you are staying home during the day by this point, completing the simple things on your to-do list could be the best part of the day. You get everything done that you keep telling yourself you’ll have time for the next day, and it’s all done before your partner even wakes up in the morning. 

You may even have time to return to bed and try again to sleep before your partner wakes up and asks how everything got finished. Then you may smile and tell him to go back to sleep because you’re tired.

It may not be the ideal thing to do, having to rearrange your sleep schedule, but everyone adjusts to it.

Consider it practice, soon you’ll be up every few hours to take care of baby and will have to arrange your sleep schedule to fit baby’s by getting out of bed when you wake up and completing tasks you were going to leave until later, you learn how to do the housework without waking anyone, you get everything done that you needed, and you will learn to work around baby’s sleep schedule before your partner does. 

A pregnant lady in bed with hand on baby.

Plus, when you finish everything during the early morning, go back to bed and try again to sleep. If you are woken back up when your partner wakes, don’t get upset. Simply tell him that you couldn’t sleep the night before and that you want to stay in bed.

It would really be nice to be able to sleep all night again as you could a few months ago. However, perhaps this is nature’s way of telling us to get used to only sleeping a few hours at a time, and this is your practice for lack of sleep with a newborn. Take advantage of it. Go ahead and be up half the night, get things done, then return to bed and rest. 

Take naps throughout the day if you continue to only sleep a little at a time if that’s possible. However, there is a line between waking up for a few hours during the night and a real insomnia problem. 

And, it is important to understand that between hormonal changes and the increased need to pee during the night, it’s completely normal to have to wake up more often than prior to pregnancy.

A pregnant person in bed.

It’s also important to know that waking during the middle of the night or decreased sleep quality can be expected as you push your due date. Make sure to try out our favorite pregnancy pillows to help get in the best sleeping positions.

If it gets worse, or if you can’t sleep at all during the night, tell your doctor and see if there’s something going on that you need to get checked out, like some kind of obstructive sleep apnea or chronic insomnia. Otherwise, don’t worry about it too much. As much of a problem as trouble sleeping seems to be now, the sooner you get used to it, the better off you’ll be.

What causes insomnia during pregnancy?

There are many causes of insomnia, here are the most common:

  • Change in body due to pregnancy
  • Back pain
  • Increased and frequent urination
  • Increased heartburn or GERD issues that get worse when laying flat at night, in bed- consider trying to sleep propped up.
  • Anxiety and excitement to have your baby
  • Changes in hormones
Lady laying in bed with hand on pregnant stomach.

Ways to help fall back asleep or ways to ensure you sleep better at night

Sleep issues are common all throughout your pregnancy. Do your best to ensure you get appropriate sleep and handle daytime sleepiness appropriately. Here are some tips to help.

  • Take a warm bath (as long as you’re in a safe place in pregnancy to do so) to calm yourself and relax before bed
  • Take magnesium or make sure you’re eating things with enough magnesium to prevent leg cramps which can cause restless legs syndrome of wake you up during the night
  • Try a light box, breathing techniques, or deep breathing
  • Take a walk at night or some before bed relaxation exercises and relaxation techniques to help ease those sleep problems
  • Use Good Night Lotion (safe for pregnancy, breastfeeding and for use on kids!)
  • Try sleeping in a different, more comfortable position to eliminate any physical discomfort that could be decreasing your quality of sleep
  • Make sure you have an appropriate sleeping and body temperature- undress or change blankets
  • Use a weighted blanket if approved by your doctor

It is important to note that most prescription sleep medication and over the counter sleep aids are not safe for pregnancy or pregnancy-related insomnia and should not be used for poor sleep problems as they have more than one risk factor that is not safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding use.

However, you can consider cognitive behavioral therapy after speaking to your doctor about your sleep problems. Getting enough sleep is crucial for a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnant lady laying in bed asleep.

Why is it important to sleep on your left side when pregnant?

It’s important to understand your anatomy. You have a large vein running through your abdomen that brings blood back to your heart on the right side of your body.

Veins are compressible, where arteries are not.

This large vein can be compressed by your growing belly, making it difficult for the blood to return to the heart.

Laying on your left side makes the vein up to the right side so it does not get compressed.

Best of luck to you on getting a good night’s sleep. Always talk with your healthcare provider if you feel you are not getting an adequate amount of sleep or are seeing a decrease in fetal movements.