Most pregnant women have likely heard someone say, “Sleep while you can!” Getting a lot of sleep before you have a baby (since you may not be getting a lot of sleep after) is pretty standard advice. It’s not bad advice either since rest is an integral part of having a healthy pregnancy. However, it’s easier said than done since many pregnant women can’t seem to sleep at all.
From restless leg syndrome to insomnia, sleep problems are common during pregnancy, especially during the 3rd trimester. Also, there are many concerns around which sleep positions are safest for the baby and the mother.
Whether you just found out you’re pregnant or are ready to pop any day now, know that you’re not alone in how you’re feeling. If you’ve had trouble sleeping while pregnant, we hope the pregnancy comfort tips we share will help you get some sleep tonight.
Common pregnancy sleep problems
Some nights it’s the number of times you have to get up to pee, while other nights, it’s the extreme heartburn that seems to appear out of nowhere. No matter what your current discomfort is, sleep problems in pregnancy are not uncommon. In fact, 78% of women have a sleep problem during pregnancy. Even if sleep problems are common, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for a solution.
Getting the right amount of sleep is vital for every healthy pregnancy. In some cases, lack of sleep has been linked to adverse pregnancy effects. Suppose you know you need to get more sleep but end up staring at the ceiling each night or waking every hour. In that case, you’re currently experiencing what the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine calls “the great paradox of sleep in pregnancy.”
Keep reading to find out the most common sleep problems in pregnancy and how you can manage them.
1. Frequent need to pee
You might want to get a good night’s sleep, but sometimes it feels like you spend more time in the bathroom than in your bed. In the 1st and 3rd trimesters, you may sometimes feel like you have to pee every 5 minutes, and there are reasons for this. Higher levels of the pregnancy hormone (hCG) and progesterone are likely the cause for your frequent need to pee.
Your kidneys are also working harder during pregnancy to filter the extra fluids, which means you will flush out the fluids more frequently. This increase in urine production peaks by about 9-16 weeks of gestation then settles down. Although many women find relief during the 2nd trimester, the problem can return in the 3rd trimester when there’s more pressure on your bladder, forcing you to pee more frequently once again.
So what can you do about it? You can’t control how much fluid your kidneys are filtering or your hormones, but you can pay attention to your water intake at night. It would help if you stayed hydrated when you’re pregnant, but drinking many fluids at night means you’ll have to get up way more often than you want to. Try to drink many fluids during the day and start to limit them an hour or so before bedtime.
2. Restless leg syndrome
Other medical conditions typically cause restless leg syndrome (RLS), but many pregnant women experience it temporarily. During the 3rd trimester, 15% of pregnant women develop restless leg syndrome, making it extremely difficult for them to sleep. If you’re having trouble with RLS, being extremely tired can make your symptoms worse.
RLS causes uncomfortable feelings in a person’s legs, such as itching and restlessness. It usually gives you an urge to stretch or move around, even if it’s the middle of the night and you’re lying down. The first thing you can do to get relief is to find the cause of your RLS. The disorder has been linked to iron deficiencies in pregnancy, so you may want to check with your doctor to test your iron levels. Higher levels of estrogen can also contribute to the onset of RLS.
Comfort tactics may help relieve some of the discomfort caused by RLS. Many people find that moving around for a brief period can ease some discomfort. Daily exercise, using hot or cold packs on your legs, and limiting caffeine intake are also ways to lessen your RLS symptoms.
When you’re pregnant, you probably want to sleep more than anything else, but what can you do when insomnia gets in the way? Insomnia is a sleep disorder that keeps you awake or makes it hard for you to fall asleep. Insomnia can start at any point in your pregnancy, but most pregnant women experience it in the 2nd or 3rd trimester.
Like many other sleep problems present during pregnancy, insomnia can be triggered by an increase in certain hormones. According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 72% of pregnant women frequently wake during the night. There are many different causes of insomnia, including stress and anxiety. When pregnant, many women experience increased stress, and it can be difficult sometimes to shut the brain off at night.
To find relief from your insomnia, try to establish a bedtime routine that includes some comfort measures. You might try taking a soothing bath before bed, playing calming music, or sleeping with a lavender-scented pillow. Find what works for you and what helps you be calm and relax before bedtime.
How to sleep comfortably while pregnant
When you’re pregnant, it can feel like it’s impossible to get comfortable at all when it’s time to sleep. Whether a kick in the ribs woke you up or you’re experiencing back pain, it can be tough to find a comfortable sleep position. By the time you get comfortable, you likely have to get up and pee again.
No matter what’s keeping you up at night, there are many ways to ensure you still get a good night’s sleep. Here are our best tips on being comfortable and safe at bedtime:
1. Sleep on your side
Sleeping on your side, specifically your left side, is the safest pregnancy sleep position. This position can help you avoid digestive issues during sleep and increase blood flow to you and your baby. When you sleep on your left side during pregnancy, your body’s circulation is improved, increasing the number of nutrients that reach your baby.
2. Avoid sleeping on your back
Avoid sleeping on your back while pregnant due to issues it can cause. One of the concerns about sleeping on your back while pregnant is that it may restrict blood flow and decrease circulation for you and your baby.
3. Watch what you eat before bed
Heartburn is another common issue many pregnant women deal with at night. Eating spicy foods or eating heavy meals before bedtime is sometimes the cause of this discomfort. Try having a light meal in the evening instead and avoid any spicy foods or similar meals that may upset your stomach.
4. Use a body pillow
To be both comfortable and safe during the night while pregnant, you’ll need a lot more pillow support. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the solution for sleep problems is either propping yourself up with pillows, putting a pillow under your abdomen, or putting a pillow between your legs.
The right body pillow can take care of all these solutions. Many pregnant women admit a good pillow can completely change how well you sleep during pregnancy. It’s not easy finding the best one. However, this pillow is one of our favorites.
5. Relaxation techniques
Pregnancy can be stressful, and as silly as it may sound, sometimes the stress of not sleeping makes it harder to fall asleep. There are various relaxation techniques you can try, from deep breathing exercises to yoga for pregnant women. Not only will these techniques help you relax before bed, but they also help you prepare for labor.
No matter the stage you are in your pregnancy journey, you’ve likely struggled with sleep at some point. Sleep problems are prevalent during pregnancy. They can be incredibly frustrating when all you want to do is get a good night’s rest. From frequent heartburn to restless leg syndrome, each trimester seems to come with its set of issues.
However, most of these issues can be linked back to hormonal changes, and it means that your body is doing its job and growing a healthy baby.
Remember, you will meet your precious baby before you know it, and by then, many of these sleep issues would have resolved by themselves. We hope you will rest easy tonight, knowing the discomfort is only temporary, but the love you have for your little one will last forever.