Insomnia when pregnant
Most new moms-to-be understand that sleep deprivation will become a reality once the baby is born. However, many women don't realize that pregnancy insomnia can occur during the first or third trimesters.
Most new moms-to-be understand that sleep deprivation will become a reality once the baby is born. However, many women don’t realize that pregnancy insomnia can occur during the first or third trimesters.
And the truth is that many women experience sleep difficulties during pregnancy. In fact, even though women tend to get the most sleep during their first trimester, they experience a significant loss in their quality of sleep. Who knew? As it happens, pregnancy can make you feel tired all day and keep you up at night!
Today, we’ll look at insomnia when pregnant and discuss everything you need to know about it.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleep condition that makes it hard for people to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night. Yet, this sleep issue can also cause you to wake too early and not allow you to drift back off to dreamland. For some, it leaves them feeling as if the sleep they did get wasn’t restorative or refreshing.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 35 percent of people occasionally suffer from bouts of insomnia, such as problems getting to sleep and staying that way. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has insomnia, which is defined as a sleep disorder.
Most people are diagnosed with insomnia once they’re experiencing distress, and their sleep problems negatively impact other areas of their life, such as relationships or work.
What Causes Pregnancy Insomnia?
Like most of the other annoying pregnancy-related issues, insomnia is usually caused by hormonal fluctuations. However, along with your hormone levels, there are many of the factors that can also keep you awake at night. These factors include:
- Frequent bathroom trips
- Morning sickness, heartburn, or constipation
- Pains such as tender breasts, headache, or round ligament pain
- Disturbing or vivid dreams
- Restless leg syndrome or leg cramps
- Pre-birth worries and anxiety
- A constant feeling of being hot
- Rolling, flipping, and kicking from your active baby
- Trouble getting comfortable
Insomnia When Pregnant
You can experience difficulties sleeping at any point during your pregnancy. Yet, most expectant moms experience it during the second trimester, leading into the third. Many times, you may notice that insomnia begins due to increasing pregnancy symptoms and a large baby belly; both of which make it tough to get comfortable in bed.
Insomnia isn’t just limited to the latter part of pregnancy, though. There are plenty of first-trimester woes that can also keep you from your cozy bed and peaceful sleep. These issues can include morning sickness, which occurs at any time of the day, and the constant need to pee.
Let’s take a closer look at when pregnancy insomnia starts and how long it lasts.
When Does Pregnancy Insomnia Start?
As we mentioned, insomnia can begin anytime after conception but generally peaks during the latter portion of the pregnancy when other symptoms intensify. Still, it’s not uncommon for women to start experiencing insomnia as few as six to seven weeks into the pregnancy. Exactly when yours may begin will depend on the root cause, which also changes as the pregnancy progresses.
Insomnia in Early Pregnancy
If you begin to experience insomnia in the first trimester, it’s most commonly due to a hormone shift. This can also cause nausea, vomiting, and constant urination. These disruptions affect your body’s natural sleep and wake cycles. So, when insomnia happens in early pregnancy, it usually makes it harder for the woman to stay asleep more so than fall asleep.
Insomnia in the Third Trimester
Insomnia in late pregnancy is commonly caused by the discomfort from worsening pregnancy symptoms and anxiety about the baby’s birth. Between the baby’s weight and a large bump, you may notice that it’s harder to find a comfortable lying position. And let’s not forget the pregnant moms who lie in bed at night worrying about labor and how it will play out.
How Long Does Insomnia Last During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy insomnia usually comes and goes in waves, but for some, it lasts the entire nine months. There is some good news, though. It’s been shown that some women who experience sleepless nights in their first trimester find that it improves by their second. This is mainly due to the stabilization of hormone production in the body.
By the time many women reach the third trimester, they find it very difficult to sleep. You’ll probably find that the larger your belly and baby grow, the harder it is for you to get comfortable. The only thing you can really do is turn over and sleep a few more hours. Still, when you add in the bladder that must be emptied every few hours, don’t expect this problem to disappear until after your baby arrives.
Can Insomnia Indicate Pregnancy?
While experts agree that insomnia can be an early pregnancy sign, it’s usually not the first thing women notice. For most expectant mothers, insomnia shows up later in the pregnancy once they already know they’re pregnant.
Can Insomnia in the First Trimester Predict Baby’s Sex?
Have you heard the old wives’ tale that says you’re having a girl when you experience insomnia early in pregnancy? Though this may be what you want to hear, don’t be so quick to believe the claim. It’s not backed by research or facts.
What is true is that most of these tales are rooted in interpretations of how the body responds to hormone production during pregnancy. However, it’s been found that this process affects different women differently. For example, you may find one woman who craves salty snacks while others want sweet foods. Likewise, some women may experience insomnia for the duration of pregnancy, and others may not be bothered at all. This has nothing to do with the baby’s sex, though. It’s more a matter of how your body responds to these hormonal increases. Suffice it to say just because you have insomnia six weeks into your pregnancy doesn’t mean you’re going to be blessed with a little girl.
Best Ways to Manage Pregnancy Insomnia
Though insomnia during pregnancy may not go away, there are some things you can do to make yourself more comfortable. Sometimes this is as easy as making lifestyle changes, but for others, it’s developing better sleep habits.
Here are some practical ways to manage insomnia during pregnancy:
- Develop a bedtime routine: Creating a good bedtime ritual is excellent for helping your body relax and fall asleep. When you do the same thing each day, your mind and body know what to expect.
- Control late-night snacks: Be aware of what and when you eat dinner and snacks. Avoiding triggers that cause heartburn can be helpful, but so can avoiding caffeine, sugars, and too much spice. Try to eat at least three hours before you lay down and if you do get hungry, opt for something high in protein and low in sugar.
- Exercise to calm your thoughts: Prenatal workouts are beneficial in more than one way. For example, they can limit your risk of gestational diabetes, build strength for labor, ease troubled thoughts, and improve your sleep.
Sleep Aids for Pregnancy
As you know, you must be careful which medications you take while pregnant, as you don’t want to hurt your developing baby. Though some sleep aids are unsafe for pregnant women, you still have options.
While these supplements are considered safe for pregnant women, it’s important to note that it’s always best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking any sleep aids.
That said, here are the top sleep aids for pregnancy:
Unisom Sleep Tabs
Unisom Sleep Tabs or doxylamine is an antihistamine that is safe to take during pregnancy. However, it’s worth noting that sometimes this medication can cause unpleasant side effects such as malaise and dry mouth. Moreover, they can be habit-forming and stop working once you’ve built a tolerance for them.
Though most antihistamines are not sold as sleep aids, they are known to make many people drowsy. This leads many people to choose diphenhydramine-containing drugs such as Benadryl to treat insomnia during pregnancy. And since the CDC’s studies have not found any links between antihistamine use and congenital disabilities, it’s safe to use when expecting.
Though there’s only limited research looking into melatonin use while pregnant, the studies so far have concluded it’s probably safe. Most doctors agree that melatonin is effective and safe for most patients. Like anything else, it’s always best to ask your doctor before taking melatonin to ensure it’s safe and to find out the correct dosage for you.
If you find that depression, anxiety, or stress are so intense that it’s affecting your sleep, it’s best to speak with your doctor. Many women struggle with mental health during pregnancy, so you’re not alone.
SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are first-line treatments for anxiety and depression, but not specifically for insomnia. Yet, in some cases, having an SSRI prescribed is a great way to feel more emotionally balanced, thus, improving your sleep. Just keep in mind that not all antidepressants are safe for pregnant women, but there are a few on the market that work well.
Ultimately, most women will find that first-trimester insomnia passes quickly. So, if you’re still early on in your pregnancy, take some daytime naps and try to muddle through. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do for third-trimester insomnia.
However, you can follow some of our steps above to manage it or speak with your healthcare provider about safe and effective sleep aids. Either way, just hang in there - once you see your newborn’s face, every sleepless night will be totally worth it!