Common Pregnancy Sleep Problems & Solutions

You might have heard that getting proper sleep with a newborn baby around is very hard, but most people forget that it is almost equally as hard to get rest with sleep problems in pregnancy. If the statistics are to be believed, around 78% of pregnant women face troubles with sleeping during pregnancy. With your skin changes, hair loss and multiple other side-effects, it is no wonder that your body is also affected in different ways. Whether it is the first trimester or the delicate time of the third trimester, sleep can elude in pregnancy at various times and for multiple reasons.

This trouble in sleeping does not mean that you can’t do anything about it. Considering the answer to how to sleep when pregnant, there are certain things you need to keep in mind. To get a better understanding and subsequently, the solution for pregnancy sleep problems, take a look at the following points:

1. Needing to pee frequently

Timeline: This disrupts sleep the most in the first and third trimester of pregnancy.

Cause: As you may already know, there are hormonal changes and surges in your body during pregnancy. Specifically, it is the hCG that increases, and it causes you to pee more frequently. In addition to that, your kidneys filter 50% more blood in pregnancy and therefore, making you pee for two people. The pressure that your growing womb puts on the bladder also makes you urinate frequently. With so many reasons behind your frequent need to use the loo, sleep during pregnancy indeed becomes difficult.

Cure: While it is essential to stay hydrated and eat the right foods throughout the day during pregnancy, you can cut back on the more liquid diets at nighttime. Also, try to use dim night lights instead of the brighter lights so that it is easier to fall back asleep when you are done with your business in the bathroom.

2. Bodily discomfort

Timeline: Rising with each trimester, especially causing pregnancy sleep problems in the second and third trimester.

Cause: Pregnancy brings with it many changes to your body, including your changes in your skin, hair and your body structure. Your baby bump will grow bigger with each trimester as the fetus inside it grows. Pregnancy weight gain and the shift in your body’s centre of gravity can take a toll on your sleep schedules. To find a comfortable position to lie down and go to sleep becomes increasingly difficult. You absolutely can’t sleep on your stomach and sleeping on your back is also advised against in the first trimester.

Cure: One of the simplest pregnancy sleep aids, in this case, is to sleep on your side, especially the left side. Sleeping this way is the safest for your unborn child and is also easier on your own circulatory system. If you have been getting swelling in your legs and hand, the better blood circulation in this sleeping position will reduce it. Pregnancy pillows or some simple pillows arranged in a way to give you maximum comfort can significantly enhance your sleep experience in pregnancy.

3. Heartburn and acidity

Timeline: Heartburn and acidity make sleeping during pregnancy difficult at any given time.

Cause: There are so many things going in your body during pregnancy, and even the smallest of changes can be a cause for trouble. Increased progesterone and estrogen levels in your body increase the blood volume and flow everywhere, even in the smallest of veins. When the blood in your nasal veins increases, it causes them to swell produce more mucus, leading to nasal congestion. It gets incredibly difficult to sleep or even lie down for long periods when your nose is blocked.

Cure: Pregnancy sleep aid advised by the doctor in times like this are to avoid spicy foods, eating smaller but frequent meals and having dinner at least two hours before going to bed at night. This way, the general acidity of your stomach is reduced, and the food you ate has already moved to your intestines and can no longer cause problems in sleeping. In case your pregnancy sleep problems persist, you can ask your doctors for antacids that are safe to take.

4. Nose blockage and congestion

Timeline: It can happen anytime during the pregnancy and trouble your sleep.

Cause: There are so many things going in your body during pregnancy and even the smallest of changes can be a cause for trouble. Increased progesterone and estrogen levels in your body increase the blood volume and flow everywhere, even in the smallest of veins. When the blood in your nasal veins increases, it causes them to swell produce more mucus, leading to nasal congestion. It gets incredibly difficult to sleep or even lie down for long periods of time when your nose is blocked. 

Cure: The usual saline nasal sprays and nose strips are safe to use in pregnancy and can help you have an open airway during the nights. However, if your problem is more severe, you can ask your doctor for some safe steroid-based nasal sprays and decongestant medicines. Be sure to check that whatever method you use does not have any adverse effects on you or your baby.

Woman using a nasal spray to help with sleep problems in pregnancy

5. Sleep apnea and snoring

Timeline: Sleep apnea and snoring are common problems that women can suffer from in any trimester of their pregnancy.

Cause: While nasal congestion is the leading cause of snoring, the weight gain during pregnancy does not help either. If you have gained too much weight, then it will increase your trouble. For those who may not know this, sleep apnea is when you stop breathing for a brief period in your sleep. Snoring is an indicator that you may also be suffering from sleep apnea, which itself has links to gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. 

Cure: Here is the answer to how to sleep when pregnant and tackle the problems mentioned above. Try sleeping with your head propped up a bit higher with pillows and using nasal strips for snoring. You can even use cool mist humidifiers to make breathing more comfortable for you to sleep peacefully. If you feel that your breath is getting more and more difficult to sleep, contact your doctor immediately.

6. Cramping legs

Timeline: This type of problem usually occurs in the later trimesters or second half of your pregnancy.

Cause: The extra weight that you have in pregnancy, puts pressure on your muscles and nerves, causing random spasms and cramping. While aching and cramping legs can be seen during the day, it is more common for this to trouble you during the night. Such things are more noticeable during the night and cause pregnancy sleep problems. Other than these, there can be many other less identifiable causes for leg cramps in pregnancy.

Cure: Nutrient deficiencies are one of the reasons for aches in pregnancy, and it is essential to eat a healthy diet during this time to tackle it. Calcium and Magnesium-rich foods and medicinal supplements are often recommended to ease the cramps. Stretching your legs, light exercises and walking around may also aid in this. Although less likely, cramps can also indicate blood clots and therefore might require quick medical attention from your doctor.

7. Insomnia

Timeline: Insomnia caused by various reasons can occur at any point during the pregnancy.

Cause: Whether it is anxiety, stress, hormonal surges or any of the other physiological problems mentioned in these points, insomnia can be the result of that. Insomnia refers to the inability to sleep or to stay asleep. Most pregnant women find that they get so used to not being able to sleep properly due to the physical problems, sometimes it gets difficult to sleep even without those hindrances. Insomnia during pregnancy is frustrating and can make you more irritable.

Cure: Make yourself more comfortable for sleep by having a good wind-down ritual before going to bed. This could include a bath, maybe some meditation or even listening to soft music that lulls you to sleep. Relaxing your mind and body is the best pregnancy sleep aid to tackle insomnia. If the problem continues even after this, ask for help from your doctor.

A woman using pregnancy sleep aid such as pillows to rest comfortably

Many other big and small things hinder your sleep during pregnancy and many other corresponding solutions to them. Since each pregnancy is different, what works for someone else, might not work for you. But some of the sweeping changes in your lifestyle to aid sleep during this time is to avoid caffeine, resist sugary temptations, try to reduce your stress and avoid looking at clocks from the evening on. A comfortable bed and restful sleep are all that a pregnant woman asks for at the end of that day, and we hope that these suggestions help you with that. Happy Sleeping!

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