How to Deal with Sleep Problems During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, suffering from insomnia, and waking up at 3 a.m. every night during your pregnancy, know that you are not alone. According to the American Pregnancy Association, 78% of pregnant women will experience insomnia during their pregnancy.
Now you know it is common to experience interrupted sleep during pregnancy. Let us talk about sleep patterns for pregnant women. We will also discuss what may be causing your insomnia. We will also go over some ways to help alleviate this insomnia. You will experience more restful sleep during your pregnancy. Waking up at 3 a.m. every night during pregnancy does not have to last your whole pregnancy.
Insomnia in Pregnancy
Before we talk about why you are experiencing terrible nights of sleep, we should talk about what exactly insomnia is.
Insomnia, by definition, is a sleep disorder that causes you to have trouble falling and staying asleep. It is a condition that can be short-term (acute) or last a long time (chronic). Acute insomnia usually lasts from just one night to a few weeks. Insomnia is chronic if it happens at least three nights per week for three months or longer.
Insomnia in pregnant women has been the subject of extensive studies. Fortunately, there is a lot of knowledge on its effects and treatments.
Sleep Problems During Pregnancy
The inadequate sleep that insomnia causes can be the result of one or more of the following:
- Having difficulty falling asleep
- Waking up frequently in the night
- Finding it hard to return to sleep
- Experiencing unrefreshing sleep
These can all be frustrating to anyone, especially a pregnant woman whose body is working to grow a child. Not all of the below causes will be true for each woman. You may experience some or all of these as a contributing factor to your insomnia. There are several causes of insomnia during pregnancy.
The most common are:
- Hormonal changes
- Anticipation of the baby’s arrival
- Back pain
- Vivid dreams
- Discomfort due to increased abdomen size
- Frequent need to urinate during the evening
If you are experiencing any or all of these, it is understandable that you are frustrated and looking to alleviate the problem quickly, easily, and safely.
Why Do I Wake Up At 3 a.m. During Pregnancy?
It is unfortunately common to experience sleep problems during pregnancy. These can cause you to wake early in the morning each night. As discussed above, studies were done on pregnant women and sleep patterns. Studies have shown that a combination of hormonal changes and the discomforts of pregnancy can contribute to interruptions in a pregnant woman’s sleep cycle. It is all too common to be waking up at 3 a.m. every night during pregnancy.
Waking Up at 3 a.m. Every Night During Pregnancy – First Trimester vs. Third Trimester
The reasons for waking at 3 a.m. every night differ depending on the trimester of your pregnancy. The first trimester can cause insomnia and night waking. Most women need to take naps due to daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
If you feel the need to take naps, then absolutely do so. Your body is telling you it needs to rest and recharge.
During your third trimester, you should expect your insomnia and night waking to increase. Most women will wake up 3 to 5 times a night during sleep.
Waking this often is usually due to back pain, needing to go to the bathroom, leg cramps, fetal movement, and heartburn. It is also common to have strange dreams during the last few weeks of pregnancy. You may feel the need to take naps daily as you had in the first trimester.
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How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Sleep?
How many hours a day a woman should sleep will vary based on the individual woman and her sleep habits before pregnancy. A woman sleeping eight hours a night before pregnancy may need up to ten hours while pregnant.
Many women average much less sleep. Those busy with family and work may only get six to seven hours of sleep a night. If you cannot get eight hours a night, it is recommended to squeeze in a nap during the day. An extra hour or two of sleep may be necessary for many women, especially in the first trimester.
Moms Who Are Waking Up At the Same Time Every Night When Pregnant
As a mom waking up at the same time every night when you are pregnant, you may be wondering if insomnia is just a nuisance or if it can be harmful to you or your baby’s health.
If you lose sleep during pregnancy every once in a while, it is not a big concern. An issue arises if it is continued or chronic.
Unfortunately, chronic insomnia has shown links to gestational diabetes, stress, and depression. Frequent snoring and insomnia also have been linked to an increased risk of giving birth to a baby too large or small for its age, and sleep issues later in pregnancy have been linked to longer labor and an increased need for a cesarean section.
Waking Up Every 2 Hours Pregnant
Sleeping well when you are pregnant is incredibly important, especially during the first trimester. There are so many processes in your body that require your rest. If you are waking up at 3 a.m. every night during pregnancy, you will want to focus on how to remedy that situation. It will be important for your health. Sleep deprivation in the first trimester has some side effects that should be avoided.
According to the Sleep Foundation these can include:
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure during the third trimester
There is also research that sleep-disordered breathing may be a risk factor for miscarriage. These all sound scary, but there are natural remedies for insomnia you can use during your pregnancy to lessen these risks. We will go into more detail on the remedies available below.
Natural Remedies for Insomnia During Pregnancy
If you are suffering from insomnia during your pregnancy, you have learned now that you are not alone. Many women go through nights of fractured and unrestful sleep. These nights of terrible sleep can lead to days where you feel like a walking zombie and are not able to enjoy your pregnancy, family, and friends.
Fortunately, there are several ways to heal your insomnia. Below are four of the main ones featured in an article by Medical News Today that we will break down in more detail.
- Physical activity – Gentle activity is proven to help women during pregnancy suffer from less insomnia. Just 30 minutes a day done at least 4-6 hours before bedtime can have a profound impact on your sleep health.
- Incorporating relaxation methods – If your insomnia stems from anxiety or your mind constantly racing with thoughts, relaxation exercises can be incredibly beneficial. Prenatal yoga and meditation apps available on your phone are perfect ways to calm your body and mind in preparation for sleep.
- Dietary supplements – You should never take any supplements during pregnancy without first consulting your doctor. If they agree it is safe for you, you may be able to supplement with melatonin to help ease you into sleep. Melatonin is naturally occurring in the body, and some studies suggest it may support healthy brain development in a baby.
- Better sleep hygiene – Better sleep starts with better habits. Unfortunately, the bad habits of pre-pregnancy may have found their way into your sleep habits while pregnant. Important steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene include: keeping your bedroom dark and cool, limiting caffeine, do not use screens (phone or television) in bed, only sleep in a bed and nowhere else, and limit fluid intake before bedtime.
We also recommend using a habit tracker to see how many hours you’re sleeping each night and whether these remedies are helping. These are just a few of the ways you can ensure a better night’s sleep during your pregnancy. Read the full article about how to sleep better when pregnant here.
Making just a few tweaks to your routine can lead to more restful sleep and a happy, healthier you during the daytime. You may have used some techniques in the past that helped you as well. Look into variations of those that are safe for you during pregnancy. These could include pregnancy-friendly teas, the music you find calming, or maybe you need a good foot massage to melt some tension away. It may seem overwhelming, but you can overcome insomnia you are dealing with during your pregnancy.
Insomnia can be aggravating when you are not pregnant. It is even more frustrating when you are pregnant and need all the sleep you can get. Throw in the complications and side effects it may cause, and it can be downright scary. Luckily there are some tried and true methods to relieve your insomnia. If you have any questions or are interested in dietary supplements to help with your insomnia, please consult your physician first. They have you and your baby’s best interest at heart and will know what is safe and beneficial for your individual pregnancy.