Insomnia During Pregnancy – Don’t Lose Those ZZZZs
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do to maintain overall health and wellbeing – and it’s even more crucial during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, insomnia during pregnancy is common. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that 8 out of 10 women report insomnia and sleep problems while they are carrying. Read on to learn more about the most common sleep disrupters during pregnancy and how to fight them.
Body Aches and Pains
1. Sore Breasts:
Tender breasts can affect your sleep, especially if you sleep on your stomach. As your hormones prepare your breasts for milk production, they can become uncomfortable and sore.
=> Solution: Now is the perfect time to start sleeping on your left side, which will relieve pressure on your breasts and provide the best blood and nutrient flow to your baby. As your belly grows, this position is often the most comfortable and has other benefits we’ll get to in a few minutes. So the sooner you get used to sleeping this way the better you might sleep later in your pregnancy. Try using a special, full body pregnancy pillow to help you sleep comfortably on your side. You can find these online and in maternity stores.
2. Back pain and muscle aches:
A study carried out by Yale University School of Medicine found that almost 70% of women experience lower back pain during pregnancy. During the third trimester especially, back pain and muscle aches can affect your sleep. These can be associated with the ligaments between the pelvic bones softening and the joints loosening in preparation for the birth.
=> Solution: Using a body pillow and sleeping on your left side may help. You can talk to your family doctor about pain relief medicine suitable for pregnant women.
3. Restless Leg Syndrome:
Nearly a third of pregnant women experience ‘Restless Leg Syndrome’ – often described as an itchy, burning sensation that feels like it can only be overcome by moving your legs. If something is compelling you to get up and walk around during the night, your sleep will suffer. Scientists don’t know the exact cause of restless leg syndrome, though it has been associated with hormone changes or a lack of folic acid or iron.
=> Solution: Talk to your doctor or midwife about your iron and folic acid levels, you may need supplements. Warm baths can help you relax. Lying in bed while watching television or reading can make things worse; the longer you lay still, the more likely restless leg syndrome will occur. Only get in bed when you are ready to sleep.
Nausea, Heartburn and Snoring
Although it is often called morning sickness, nausea associated with pregnancy can strike at any time. Some women find themselves feeling nauseous and even vomiting in the middle of the night.
=> Solution: Bland crackers can settle your stomach when you can’t keep other foods down. Talk to your doctor about using ginger remedies – natural ginger tea or candy can help too. Researchers at the University of Maryland note that eating about 1 gram of ginger a day has proved to be effective in reducing nausea during pregnancy.
As your uterus expands, it will put pressure on your stomach. This, together with hormone changes that affect how your body both tolerates food and keeps it down, can lead to heartburn and acid reflux.
=> Solution: To prevent nighttime heartburn, don’t lie down directly after eating. Keep your head higher than your feet. This makes it harder for acid to flow up into your esophagus. Use extra pillows, and fluff them up before you sleep to keep your head elevated. Sleeping on your left side has also been found to lower the rate of heartburn – just another reason to get into the habit early. Ask your doctor about over-the-counter medications that may help to relieve and treat the heartburn.
The third trimester is when you are most likely to start snoring – often a less than thrilling development for you, or your partner. Snoring during pregnancy is usually associated with nasal congestion and excess weight gain.
=> Solution: Try putting a nasal strip before you go to sleep – drug-free, they can often help reduce your snoring by opening up your nasal passages. Other ways to do this include having a warm shower or bath before bedtime – the steam will help decongest your nose and a warm bath is always good for helping you relax for bedtime.
Sprints to the Bathroom & Frequent Urination
The bigger your baby gets, the more pressure it will put on your bladder. Couple this with your hormones causing the muscles around your bladder to relax, and you have a recipe for what feels like a constant urge to urinate. You will find yourself waking up in the middle of the night for bathroom trips.
=> Solution: First of all, try limiting your fluid intake 2 hours before bedtime and in particular, steer clear of sugary, carbonated or caffeinated drinks (really, throughout your pregnancy). As your baby grows and you carry around more and more weight, your pelvic floor can weaken which lessens the control you have over your bladder. Doing Kegel exercises can help to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and improve your control, so while you might have to sprint to the bathroom more – you’ll not have any embarrassing *accidents* on the way there.
Don’t Let Insomnia During Pregnancy Win!
While it might sound like you won’t get any sleep during your pregnancy, that doesn’t have to be the case. With the right planning and preparation, you can have adequate sleep during this important time in your life. A National Sleep Foundation poll found that when comparing first-time mothers to experienced mothers, the experienced moms got 45 minutes to an hour more sleep each night. If this is your first pregnancy, consider talking to friends who have given birth before. They will be able to tell you what worked for them.
Don’t let insomnia during pregnancy get the best of you – follow our above tips and you’ll be well-rested for when the baby arrives.
A collective group of “lady experts” at Intimina who love sharing our personal experiences, even when they are a little too personal. We believe it’s time to start breaking down the taboos around menstruation, motherhood, and menopause, and start owning our female health.