Sleep During Pregnancy: Problems, Solutions & Tips with Bedtime Checklist
Getting adequate sleep during pregnancy is essential for the holistic health of both expectant mom and baby, but practically it is not feasible. Pregnancy brings several physical and hormonal changes to a woman’s body, which not only keeps her from sleeping but also exacerbates any sleep disorders that she is already struggling with.
A majority of women experience sleep problems during pregnancy. While pregnant women tend to get more sleep during the initial months of pregnancy, the quality of their sleep is indeed quite poor. Since pregnancy makes a woman feel nearly exhausted throughout the day, it can cause insomnia at night.
In This Article
What Causes Sleep Problems During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy triggers an abundance of changes in a woman's body that eventually lead to insomnia, like:
- Abdominal discomfort, specifically cramps
- Back pain
- Vivid dreams
- Hormonal changes
- Anxiety and stress
- Increased body temperature
- Frequent urges to urinate
- Respiratory disorders
- Change in body figure
- Change in sleeping position
- A growing belly that is obstructive, feels heavy and moves at night
Nearly 4 in 5 pregnant women (80%) will suffer from some level of insomnia.
Here are some of the most common sleep problems women face during pregnancy, along with their main causes and tips to overcome them.
Insomnia: Insomnia is a sleep disorder and major symptoms are
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up very early in the morning
- Frequent waking during the night
- Non-restful sleep
The Cause: Many women fall prey to insomnia and start spending more time out of bed than in it. Getting comfortable with the growing tummy could be one reason for insomnia. You could also be feeling anxious about labor and delivery, or distracted by thoughts of balancing work with motherhood in the future.
The Fix: Set relaxing and regular bedtime schedules. Take a warm bath. Exercise regularly.
The Cause: Most women complain of heartburn, a burning sensation in their chests, at some point in their pregnancy. Heartburn is a common symptom of gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which gets worse at night. The hormonal changes in your body slow down the digestive system. Further, as the uterus grows, it crowds the stomach and sometimes pushes the stomach acid up into the esophagus, causing pain and burn in the chest area or even bitter taste in the mouth.
The Fix: Eat frequent, but smaller meals. Avoid spicy, greasy, and fatty foods.
The Cause: Pregnancy increases the frequency of nighttime visits to the bathroom for women. This symptom starts around week four and may increase in frequency from about week 35. This happens because the pregnancy hormone hCG increases blood flow to the kidneys, thus making them better at their job of removing waste from the body. Secondly, your growing uterus also decreases the room size for storing urine by adding more pressure on your bladder.
The Fix: Don't drink too much fluid just before going to bed. Avoid caffeinated beverages.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS):
The Cause: RLS or Willis-Ekbom disease is a temporary, unpleasant feeling in the legs, creating an irresistible urge to move your legs. Nearly one-third of pregnant women complain of RLS, which they say aggravates at night. RLS can be caused due to rising estrogen levels in your body, or even by folic acid or iron deficiencies.
The Fix: Try to distract yourself. Get a warm bath. Try acupuncture.
The Cause: Not that typical, but sleep apnea is also considered a barrier to a restful sleep. Sleep apnea is basically the breathing obstructions that many women face during their pregnancy. Weight gain is one crucial factor contributing to sleep apnea. If your husband has started complaining about your snoring issue, maybe it’s time you consult a doctor for sleep apnea.
The Fix: Try to maintain consistent sleep schedules. Limit naps to 20 to 30 minutes in a day.
Nausea and Vomiting:
The Cause: Nausea and vomiting are the well-known side effects of pregnancy. A mild condition could be ignored, but a severe condition should be diagnosed. Severe nausea and vomiting are when you feel a vomiting tendency throughout the day, and for some, even throughout their gestation period. Anyway, nausea and vomiting don’t mean any harm to your fetus. They would only reduce your ability to work during the day.
The Fix: Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Avoid spicy or fatty food. Take Prenatal vitamins regularly.
To better cope with these challenges, read our blog sleeping tips for more restful nights, which concisely prescribes you how to minimize your issues in getting good sleep.
Tips for Getting a Good Night Sleep During Pregnancy
- Develop and Stick to a Bedtime Routine: Embrace good sleep habits. Avoid screen time at least an hour before bedtime. Taking a relaxing bath before you go to bed may help you fall asleep. To be safe, avoid hot tubs.
- Diet and Exercise: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, but minimize drinking after sunset to avoid frequent urination. Don't consume caffeine in the late afternoon or evening. Stick to a healthy pregnancy diet and eat your dinner slowly to minimize your chances of heartburn. Drinking a lukewarm glass of milk before bed helps a lot. Stay active throughout the day so you can be tired enough to sleep at night.
Comfort is Key: Make yourself and your bedroom more comfortable to enjoy a better, more restful sleep. Lie on your side with a pillow tucked between your knees. Consider placing another pillow under your belly as it gets bigger. If breast tenderness is causing discomfort to you, wear a soft and stretchable sleep bra that fits you perfectly.
Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark to enhance your sleep. For midnight visits, use a dim nightlight instead of a bright overhead light.
- Try to Relax: Practice meditation and other similar relaxation techniques and exercises to feel calmer and more relaxed at night. If sleep doesn't come easily to you, avoid working out too late in the evening. Try to complete a workout at least three hours before you go to bed.
- Use a Belly Support Belt: You can also use a belly support belt to provide ample support to your growing belly and lower the risk of back pain. Particularly if you’re carrying a large bump, a belly belt can prove to be a huge lifesaver.
- Use Pregnancy Pillows: Pregnancy pillows are oversized pillows designed to help pregnant women sleep more comfortably with less tossing and turning. They are available in a variety of shapes and styles, including total-body, U-shape, inflatable, C-shaped, and wedges.
Wear Comfortable Clothes: Wear maternity night wear to enjoy a good night's sleep. Invest in some maternity pajama pants that are non-restrictive and keep your legs cool at night. For your convenience, listed below are some of the best maternity pants you can buy from Wobbly Walk:
Maternity Loose Pants - Perfect for a formal and casual outfit.
Maternity Cotton Lower - Perfect to wear at night.
Maternity Fancy Lace Nursing Night Gown - Perfect to wear at night.
Maternity Night Gown - Perfect to wear at night.
Your skin is more sensitive than ever during pregnancy. Where soft, natural fabrics keep your body fresh by allowing your skin to breathe, on the other hand, synthetic materials can reduce airflow around the skin and can cause skin rashes and allergies resulting in sleepless nights. Hence, choose sleepwear that are non-restrictive, fit you well, and feel gentle against the skin.
Wear a Sleep Bra: Pregnancy not only changes the shape of your body, but it also increases the size of your breasts. During pregnancy, your breasts are often tender, swollen, and heavy. That's why it's highly recommended you invest in a few supportive maternity sleep bras to support your growing breasts throughout the pregnancy and beyond.
When buying a maternity sleep bra, make sure it is made of a natural fabric like cotton or bamboo to allow your skin to breathe and has plenty of stretch to accommodate your changing breasts. Non-wired bras are a better option as they provide ultimate comfort without restriction.
Pregnant women who don't get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night are at a higher risk of prolonged labor, giving birth to a premature or a low birth weight baby.
The Benefits of Sleep and Rest During Pregnancy
Although it can be quite challenging to get restful sleep while pregnant, the benefits are significant if you can manage it. Some of the benefits of getting proper sleep and rest during pregnancy are:
- A healthier immune system
- You’ll experience less stress and anxiety
- There will be less pressure on your cervix
- It may increase the chance of full-term delivery
- You’ll have less depression
- It can help your baby gain proper weight
- There will be an adequate supply of blood to the uterus
- It helps you fight high blood pressure
- You'll feel more energetic
- It may help keep placenta previa at bay
Which Side Is Best to Sleep on During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, it may be best for the mom-to-be to sleep on her left side as it improves blood circulation and the flow of vital nutrients to her uterus. Also, as a precaution, a pregnant woman should avoid lying on her back for a longer time.
A Healthy Bedtime Routine Checklist
While pregnant, it’s a good idea to follow a good bedtime routine for sleep hygiene. For your help, here is a healthy bedtime routine checklist to ensure a restful night's sleep:
- Take up gentle pregnancy exercises during the day.
- Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon, evening, and a couple of hours before bed.
- Avoid heavy meals, spicy, acidic, or fried foods that could aggravate heartburn.
- Avoid drinking any fluids a couple of hours before sleep.
- Avoid any activity before sleep.
- Practice meditation, yoga, and other similar relaxation techniques.
- Urinate to empty your bladder before you go to sleep.
- Wear breathable clothing made from natural fibres to avoid getting too hot.
- Lie on your side and use pregnancy pillows to support your bump or legs.
- Follow a consistent sleeping pattern every night.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Stick to a healthy pregnancy diet and eat small frequent meals throughout the day.
- Take prenatal vitamins.
- Try eating a few crackers at night before bed and keep some by your bed to cope with night sickness.
- Stay hydrated.
- Avoid sugary treats before bedtime.
- Take short naps of 20-30 minutes during the day.
- Wear comfortable sleepwear.
- Wear a sleep bra.
- Sleep on your side.
- Sleep in a well-ventilated room to avoid overheating.
Getting a good night's sleep during pregnancy not only keeps you energized, happy, and alert but also eases the labor process and helps you grow a healthy full-term baby. Many of the symptoms mentioned above are common during pregnancy, but you must know when you should contact your doctor.
Since sleep deprivation often leads to preeclampsia, hypertension, and premature birth, you need to know which symptoms to look out for and when to call your doctor. These symptoms include abdominal pain, shortness of breath, less frequent urination, severe headache, and vision changes, including blurry vision. If you experience any of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.