Is Insomnia a Sign of Pregnancy?

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Did you know that insomnia can be an early symptom of pregnancy? It’s true! Although, it’s generally not the first one you notice. When insomnia appears in early pregnancy, it’s commonly related to shifting hormonal changes, but other issues, such as frequent bathroom trips and nausea, can cause it.

Having problems drifting off or staying asleep is a common issue that affects people of all types. So, is it a reliable way to indicate pregnancy? The following information will discuss how sleep patterns change during pregnancy and whether insomnia can be a sign of pregnancy.

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Sleep Cycles Change During Early Pregnancy

As you would imagine, many changes occur in a woman’s body during the first trimester of pregnancy that can be unpleasant. Such changes can arise at different times, but a few occur shortly after conception. Moreover, some can interrupt a pregnant woman’s sleep patterns. Thus, leading to insomnia.

In fact, it’s common for women in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy to experience excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Other signs of tiredness can include:

  • Increased occurrence of accidents
  • Impaired job performance
  • Poor concentration

Research has found that sleepiness affects nearly 40 percent of women between six and seven weeks. The leading cause for this is an increase in the production of the hormone progesterone, which causes drowsiness. Additionally, progesterone itself can lead to further sleep interruptions that ultimately affect your overall sleep quality.

When combined with other early-onset symptoms, it can be even worse. These include:

  • Back pain
  • Morning sickness
  • Frequent urination during the night
  • Anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Breast tenderness

The good news is that you should spend more time sleeping about ten weeks into the pregnancy. This often means you spend more time asleep each night, but it may also mean you take more daytime naps. The increase in sleep is generally due to the fact that your sleep is more frequently disturbed, so your levels of deep sleep decrease.

It’s common for pregnant women to complain about the poor quality of sleep during early pregnancy. The good news is that sleep and rest tend to improve as you progress into the second trimester, but don’t get too comfortable; sleep is usually the most uncomfortable during the third trimester.

Is Insomnia a Sign of Pregnancy?

The Journal of Sleep Research conducted a study on insomnia in pregnancy and found that as the pregnancy progresses, so do rates of insomnia. Hence, you are more likely to experience this problem during the third trimester than you are during the early ones.

In fact, a different study from the Scientific World Journal suggests that the risk of developing insomnia is twice as high for those in their third trimester than those in their first or second trimesters. Given all the changes that have occurred in the body by the third trimester, this should not come as a surprise.

Most experts agree that while insomnia is common during pregnancy, it’s not always a reliable early sign of pregnancy for two main reasons, which are:

  • Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people of all ages and genders.
  • In pregnancy, it may not occur early or often enough to be considered a physical sign that someone is pregnant.

Therefore, you should never rely on insomnia as a reliable sign that you are pregnant. It’s always best to consult a doctor or, at a minimum, take an early detection home pregnancy test.

How to Cope with Pregnancy Insomnia

As we mentioned, there are several factors in pregnancy that lead to insomnia. Your root cause will determine the steps you should take to cope with insomnia.

Sleep Aids

In general, taking sleep aids during pregnancy can be a good idea. However, to ensure that you’re not choosing something that will harm you or your unborn baby, it’s always best to consult with your medical professional before beginning any medication or supplement regimen.

Physical Discomfort

If you’re suffering from insomnia during the third trimester, it’s probably being caused by physical discomfort. Many women find that sleeping on their left side and using a maternity or body pillow is the perfect fix. However, others find that simply placing a pillow between their legs to keep their pelvis neutral is all it takes. Hence, if your growing baby bump keeps you from getting comfortable in bed, find products to help you rest easier.

Heartburn and Reflux

Another common reason for pregnancy insomnia is heartburn and acid reflux. If this is an issue for you, the best option is to try waiting longer times between eating food and lying down. The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology published a study that showed the shorter the time between eating and going to bed, the more significant the problems with reflux. Some pregnant women find that propping themselves up using pillows to sit in a more upright position works well.

Restless Leg Syndrome or Leg Cramps

Unfortunately, there is no hard or fast cure for leg cramps. The best thing you can do when it happens is to try not to panic. If you find that leg cramps wake you up at night, just relax and flex your feet. Doing this will make them go away within minutes.

Sleep Hygiene

You can always improve your sleep hygiene if nothing else seems to work. Though you’ve probably heard this tip repeatedly, it actually does work. So, rather than lying down and using screens to peruse social media, engage in a digital shutdown and soak in a warm bath instead. It’s also great to set your room’s temperature to one that’s comfortable, where you have just the right amount of covers to get comfortable. If it’s a bedtime snack you want, opt for something healthy like a banana, toast, or cereal.

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, it can be helpful to simply talk to someone else about your bouts of insomnia. Whether this is your partner, doctor, or someone who has experienced it before, getting your feelings out may be just what you need. Above all, don’t let insomnia stress you out or get you down – your unborn child is counting on you!


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