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Welcome to out blog post “10 Questions to ask about Insomnia When Pregnant”
1. What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. The national Institute for Health estimates that around 30% of adults complain of not getting enough sleep. Women can experience insomnia in all stages of their pregnancy.
2. What are the types of Insomnia?
- Acute Insomnia- A brief period of difficulty sleeping, usually caused by a life event, such as change of job or home, death in family & other stressful events.
- Chronic Insomnia- A long term pattern of sleeping difficulties, usually deemed Chronic if trouble occurs 3 nights a week for 3 months
3. What are the signs of insomnia?
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Waking up frequently during the night
- Difficulty returning to sleep
- Unrefreshing sleep
You may experience one, or more of these signs.
4. What are the symptoms of insomnia?
People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and can experience one or more of the following conditions-
- Low energy
- Concentration lapses
- Memory loss
- Mood disturbances
- Decreased performance at work or school
5. Can you get Insomnia when pregnant?
Yes, there are many reasons why women can get insomnia when pregnant, these include
- Can’t get comfortable
- Leg cramps
- Extra bathroom trips due to increased pressure on bladder
- Hormonal changes
- Breast tenderness
- Back Pain
- Nausea or vomiting
Obviously, some of the physical ailments would be expected, but the mental aspects of pregnancy can be somewhat of a surprise to the expectant mother. You may feel anxious about the forthcoming labor and delivery, or worry about you & your baby’s well-being after the birth. So it can be difficult to turn off these worries, especially at night when you should be sleeping. Your lying there worrying instead.
6. Is Insomnia normal when pregnant?
According to experts, 8 out of 10 women have sleep problems during their pregnancy, so it is entirely normal to have some form of insomnia when pregnant. Insomnia is not harmful to the baby.
7. What’s the best sleeping position when pregnant?
During your pregnancy, you may find yourself wrestling in bed trying to find a comfortable position before finally falling asleep. Unfortunately, your regular sleeping position may no longer work for you during your pregnancy.
The best position for sleeping during pregnancy is in the “SOS” position (Sleep on side), preferably your left side as this increases the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby. Keep your legs & knees bent, and put a pillow between your legs.
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 experience heartburn during the night, you may try propping yourself upright with pillows supporting you.
In late pregnancy, you may find yourself experiencing shortness of breath. If this occurs try lying on your side or propped up with pillows
8. What’s the worst sleeping position when pregnant?
- Sleeping on your back can cause problems because of the result of your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels aorta & vena cava). Typical problems could be-
- Low blood pressure
- Decreased circulation to your heart and baby
- Breathing difficulties
2. Sleeping on your stomach is NOT recommended by experts, as it could be harmful for the baby, especially during the second & third trimesters. Typical problems could be-
- Breathing difficulties
- Decreased circulation for you and baby
- Increased pressure on placenta & veins
- Oxygen deficiency for baby
In the early stages, you can still sleep on your tummy, but it is advisable to use pillows to support your growing belly.
9. How do I treat insomnia when pregnant
One or more of the following tips may help you get improved sleep during your pregnancy. Some of these have already been discussed in length in our other posts, such as
- Extra Pillows: These can be used to support both the tummy & back. A pillow between the legs can help support the lower back and make sleeping on your side easier. There are specific pillows such as the wedge shape & the full length body pillow (check out the pillows here)
- Nutrition: Drink a glass of warm milk just before bed. Food high in carbohydrates, such as bread or crackers also promote sleep.
- Relaxation techniques: Can help you calm your mind and relax your muscles. Try winding down before bed, various techniques include, stretching, yoga, massages & meditation. You can also try a warm bath or shower before bed. Whatever helps you relax.
- Exercise: Regular exercise during pregnancy promotes physical & mental well-being. Exercise also promotes good sleep, but avoid vigorous exercise within 4 hours of bed.
- Avoid alcohol & coffee: Alcohol could be dangerous to your baby’s health & coffee is full of caffeine. To see which foods & drinks to avoid in general, see this blog
- Avoid blue light syndrome: Electronics emit blue lights, that signal to our brain that it’s time to wake up, not go to sleep. So put your phone to sleep & turn off the TV and tablets if you want a better nights sleep?
- Turn down the heating: Our bodies are designed to sleep best in a cooler room, around 65 degrees. Too warm and we become restless and wake up. And obviously, too cold just as bad if not worse, so turn your heating up a few notches!
- Avoid an Uncomfortable Mattress: I have discussed mattresses in detail in my blog Best Mattress buying guide
10. Can I take medication for insomnia when pregnant?
I personally would advise any medication whilst pregnant. The best people to ask are your GP or healthcare providers. I know some are safe, but for example, you aren’t allowed to take Diphenhydramine & Restoril (temazepam) together as the combination as been linked to stillbirths. Most drugs haven’t even been tested on pregnant women, so I just don’t see how it’s worth the risk, but as I say, check with your GP or pharmacist first whatever you do!
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