How To Prevent Pregnancy Insomnia
You don’t have to take insomnia lying down! Instead, consider a few of the many ways you can try and beat back sleeplessness and finally summon the sandman:
From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. What to Expect follows strict reporting guidelines and uses only credible sources, such as peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and highly respected health organizations. Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial policy.
Third Trimester Sleep Problems
By the end of pregnancy, a large percentage of expectant women report waking up at least three times per night. Two-thirds are awakened five or more times. But it’s vital to make sleep a priority now: Research has shown that pregnant women who average less than six hours of sleep a night have significantly longer labors and are 4.5 times more likely to have Cesarean sections than those who get seven hours or more nightly. Here are some common issues and solutions for women wondering how to sleep when pregnant during the third trimester.
Helpful Advice For Every Stage In Life
If you are struggling to get the right amount of sleep. to schedule a consultation.
Dr. Rosenberg is specialized in sleep medicine and neurology. He is also certified by the American Board of Sleep Disorders Medicine and the American Board of Psychology and Neurology. Patients with a wide range of issues are referred for sleep studies and he works together with them to find effective solutions that fit their lifestyle.
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Sleeping Comfortably: A Pregnancy Pillow Might Help
Pregnancy pillows, or just an extra regular pillow, are often the favourite sleep aid of expectant mums. They can help support your bump or legs in bed and make you more comfy as your tummy gets bigger. You can also use them to relax on the sofa while youre reading or watching TV.
You may fall in love with your big maternity pillows so much that you want to carry on using them after your baby is born. And coincidentally, they make great breastfeeding support cushions too!
Understand The Sources Of Your Sleep Troubles
Each trimester can bring a litany of different bodily changes that can affect sleep, noted Dr. Riley. Progesterone levels rise during the first three months of pregnancy, for instance, which can increase sleepiness but at the same time you may be struggling with nausea, which can make it harder for you to doze off. During your second trimester, your growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder, which can lead to the need for multiple bathroom breaks at night. The third trimester, however, is when pure, sheer discomfort hits, said Dr. Riley. Your rapidly expanding uterus can push acid from your stomach up your esophagus, triggering heartburn while the weight of carrying your baby may lead to back pain and leg cramps. Combine these with your ever-increasing bathroom trips, and youve got the recipe for nights of fitful, uncomfortable sleep.
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Tips To Get Better Sleep During Pregnancy
- Avoid caffeine and electronic devices before bed: Stimulants such as coffee and tea, as well as light from your tablet, smartphone, or laptop, can keep you awake at night. Cut off caffeine at least 6hours before bedtime, and stash your devices in the evenings altogether.
- Nap when you can: This might be laughable if you work outside the home or have small children. But when you can, ask your partner or a friend to handle childcare or household duties for 20 to 30 minutes so you can take a catnap. Keep in mind that naps longer than that can leave you feeling groggy instead of refreshed.
- Play background noise in the bedroom: A soothing sound machine or softly narrated audiobook might help ease you to sleep. This can be especially soothing if you find your mind wandering or racing as you try to go to sleep.
- Plug in a nightlight in the bathroom: Getting back to sleep after nighttime bathroom breaks can be easier if you dont flip on the lights. A soft nightlight or two should be sufficient. Just make sure you have nonslip rugs and a clear pathway to avoid falling.
- Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day: Yes, even on the weekends. Establishing a sleep routine can help you get the full seven to nine hours of sleep pregnant women need per night.
Finding A Good Sleeping Position
Early in your pregnancy, try to get into the habit of sleeping on your side. Lying on your side with your knees bent is likely to be the most comfortable position as your pregnancy progresses. It also makes your heart’s job easier because it keeps the baby’s weight from applying pressure to the large vein that carries blood back to the heart from your feet and legs.
Some doctors specifically recommend that pregnant women sleep on the left side. Because your liver is on the right side of your abdomen, lying on your left side helps keep the uterus off that large organ. Sleeping on the left side also improves circulation to the heart and allows for the best blood flow to the fetus, uterus, and kidneys. Ask your doctor what he or she recommends.
But don’t drive yourself crazy worrying that you might roll over onto your back during the night. Shifting positions is a natural part of sleeping that you can’t control. Most likely, during the third trimester of your pregnancy, your body won’t shift into the back-sleeping position anyway because it will be too uncomfortable.
If you do shift onto your back, the discomfort will probably wake you up. Talk to your doctor, who may suggest that you use a pillow to keep yourself propped up on one side.
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When Should I See My Doctor
The body is undergoing tremendous changes during pregnancy, and many symptoms like morning sickness and frequent urination are to be expected. However, if you notice that your legs are shaking excessively, you have changes in snoring, your legs and feet are abnormally swollen, or you are experiencing severe headaches, you should speak to your doctor as these could be signs of high blood pressure or other serious complications.
How To Sleep During Pregnancy
Sleeping on Sides is anyway considered safe- be it right, or left.
Sleeping on your left side during pregnancy is the âidealâ scenario. Sleeping on the left side allows sufficient flow of blood from the inferior vena cava . This is a large vein that runs parallel to your spine on the right side and carries blood to your heart and, in turn, to your baby. Sleeping on your left side also helps to relieve the pressure off your organs like liver and kidneys. This helps to reduce the swelling in your hands and feet.
If the left side is considered to be ideal, should we avoid the right side? Not necessarily. Research studies have shown that the right side is equally safe as the left side while sleeping. Thereâs only a slight risk of IVC compression if you choose the right side, but you can choose whichever side you are comfortable with.
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Take Naps During The Day If You Didnt Get Enough Sleep At Night
If you didnt get enough sleep the night before, dont be afraid to take a nap during the day. A quick 15-30 minute power nap is all it takes for some people to feel refreshed and ready to go again.
Naps are also great if your baby wakes up early in the morning because sometimes they just need their mommys touch so that they can drift back off into dreamland peacefully! How do you know when your baby needs this? Usually by checking on them after about 20 minutes or so of being awake then putting them down without feeding them will help settle any fussiness that may have come along with waking up too early from sleeping longer than expected at nighttime hours. If done right, soon enough your little ones will learn to go back off into dreamland on their own until you come in with a soft touch and lull them back to sleep so that they can enjoy the next round of REM cycles without interruption.
Make Your Night Routine A Relaxing Event
A warm shower before bed can help your body relax and prepare you for a good nights sleep. A warm shower can also loosen a stiff neck and shoulders and improve circulation, making it easier to get to sleep.
Combining these activities not only gets you ready for bed, but it also helps reduce the appearance of stretch marks in the process.
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Strategy #: Sleep On Your Side
As your pregnancy progresses, your burgeoning belly may make it harder and harder to find and settle on a pleasant sleeping position. While its generally O.K. to sleep any way thats comfortable during your first and the beginning of your second trimesters, experts recommend trying to sleep on your side after about 20 weeks. As your uterus gets bigger, it lies on top of your inferior vena cava, which is the large blood vessel that provides blood to your heart, explained Dr. Salena Zanotti, M.D., an ob-gyn at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. If your uterus rests on this vessel which runs behind your abdominal cavity from your legs to your heart for too long, it could cause a sharp dip in blood pressure that could theoretically impede blood flow to both you and your baby.
A 2017 study published in the journal B.J.O.G., for example, found that of more than 1,000 women who answered questionnaires about their sleeping positions, those who reported sleeping on their backs during their third trimesters had more than double the risk of stillbirth than those who slept on their sides. Other, older studies have found similar results.
Finding A Comfortable Position
As your body grows, sleep becomes a little harder to come by, especially in the third trimester. Its difficult to get comfortable. Its harder to move around and shift positions in bed. If youve been a stomach or back sleeper, it can be hard to adjust to sleeping on your side. The best position to sleep in when youre pregnant is on your left side. This improves blood flow and, therefore, nutrient flow to your baby. Try lying on your left side, knees bent with a pillow between your knees. It also helps to tuck a pillow under your stomach, as well, for extra support.
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Go To Bed With A Clear Head
Stress and anxiety are key culprits in preventing a good night’s sleep. Remember that worrying won’t help you, but talking about your problems will. Find a friend or a professional who can listen and help you if there are issues in your life that are causing you to worry or feel upset.
Another trick: To unload any worries before you turn in, keep a notebook on the night table. Much insomnia among preggo women stems from unresolved stresses especially with issues about the baby .
Strategy #: Prop Yourself On Pillows Strategically
Many pregnant women experience heartburn, back pain, nasal congestion and even trouble breathing due to both the pressure of their expanding uterus and hormonal changes. While these conditions may be present during the day, you may notice them more at night because youre lying down and there are fewer things to distract you when youre resting.
You can often relieve these uncomfortable symptoms by simply propping yourself up with pillows so that youre sleeping at a 45-degree angle, said Dr. Sally Ibrahim, M.D., a sleep specialist at the Cleveland Clinic. You can also place a pillow between your bent knees while lying on your side to help relieve back pain, along with one under your stomach to support its weight and one behind your back to deter you from rolling over. Theres no need to spend money on a pricey pregnancy pillow, but if you cant find relief with the ones you have at home, you might consider a body pillow, advised Dr. Ibrahim. The Wirecutter, a New York Times company that does rigorous product reviews, recommends the Bluestone Full Body Contour U Pillow or the Snuggle-Pedic Memory Foam Body Pillow.
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Restless Legs Syndrome And Pregnancy
Restless legs syndrome , an uncontrollable urge to move the legs whileat rest, is usually associated with older adults. But its also one of themost common reasons for sleeplessness during pregnancy.
RLS typically occurs in the evening, often when you get into bed. Thoughits uncomfortable, there is a silver lining: It doesnt last forever. Itdoes get better after delivery and actually pretty quickly, within thefirst week or so, Pien says.
RLS is often linked toanemia, which is common in pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about takingprenatal vitamins and supplements, such as folic acid and iron, to keepanemia under control.
Breathe Deeply Before Bed
After a long, hard day, you probably expect to fall asleep quickly and stay that way throughout the night.But, all too often, the stress of the day and the expectations for tomorrow keep your mind running and your body on edge. That prevents you from drifting off to dreamland after you turn the lights out even when youre exhausted.Then, to make matters worse, failing to fall asleep when you know you should only adds to your anxiety and keeps you awake well past your bedtime.You can counteract this vicious cycle by focusing on a deep-breathing exercise to reduce stress before bed.Heres how you do it:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the spot where the back of your front teeth and your gums meet. Keep your tongue there while you practice the breathing.
- Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound for a count of eight.
- Thats one cycle. Repeat steps 3-5 at least three more times for a total of four cycles.
The benefits of this technique are three-fold:
- Breathing deep for the prescribed amount of time gives your brain something to focus on other than the big project at work.
- Breathing deep slows your heart rate.
- Breathing deep increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream and releases harmful carbon dioxide that can build up in your body.
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Body Changes During Pregnancy
There are many physical and psychological reasons why as many as 94% of women face challenges with sleep during pregnancy, according to research published in Obstetric Medicine. Perhaps this is natures way of preparing expecting mothers for the many sleepless nights they will face once their little bundle of joy arrives.
While most of these changes are a natural part of the process, understanding how they impact rest can help you to better prepare and cope.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has outlined some of the prenatal side effects that may impact sleep, including:
How Can I Sleep More Comfortably During Pregnancy
Keep your legs and knees bent, and put a pillow between your legs to relieve the stress on your back.
- If you find that you are having problems with back pain, use the SOS position, and try placing a pillow under your abdomen as well.
- If you are experiencing heartburn during the night, you may want to try propping your upper body with pillows.
- In late pregnancy, you may experience shortness of breath. Try lying on your side or propped up with pillows.
These suggestions may not sound completely comfortable, especially if you are used to sleeping on your back or stomach, but try them out. You may find that they work. Keep in mind that you may not stay in one position all night, and rotating positions is fine.
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Side Sleeping: Left Vs Right
As your pregnancy progresses, doctors recommend sleeping on your side. The reason being blood flow. With the growing size of the fetus, there is a greater chance of reduction in the blood flow to the uterus.
Thereâs a lot of mixed data on whether lying flat on your back during pregnancy contributes to an increased risk of stillbirth. Currently, only a limited number of studies are available on this topic. More research is needed to be certain whether or not there is an association between stillbirths and sleeping positions up to 30 weeks of pregnancy.
Why Do I Experience Trouble Sleeping During Pregnancy
Your body is going through so many drastic changes during a pregnancy, so it really shouldnt come as a surprise that your sleep is affected too. Each trimester feels differently, and you may even experience heightened dreams or cravings during sleep as well as persistent issues of sleeplessness.1 This is all usually very natural and should not be cause for alarm unless pregnancy sleeplessness symptoms worsen and intensify.
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