Sleep Problems in Pregnancy

Problems falling and staying asleep (insomnia) are very common during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. There are many causes for insomnia and several approaches you might take to help you sleep better.

What causes insomnia during pregnancy?

Insomnia during pregnancy may be caused by:

  • hormonal changes in your body
  • the need to go to the bathroom more often because your uterus is getting bigger and putting pressure on your bladder
  • difficulty finding a comfortable position in bed
  • an active baby
  • the excitement and anticipation of birth that makes it hard to relax your mind as well as your body
  • frequent and sometimes frightening dreams about labor and the baby
  • the feeling that you can't breathe when you lie down if the baby is pressing on your diaphragm
  • heartburn with acid reflux when lying down

How can I help myself get some sleep?

Try any of the following measures that you think might help:

  • Exercise regularly during the day.
  • Drink a warm, non caffeinated, nonalcoholic drink at bedtime.
  • Take a warm bath at bedtime.
  • Read before you try to go to sleep.
  • Ask your partner to help you relax by giving you a back, neck, or shoulder rub with a soothing lotion.
  • Use the muscle relaxation techniques taught in childbirth classes.
  • Listen to some soothing music or nature sounds in bed.
  • Lie on your left side with one pillow supporting your abdomen and another between your legs
  • Take an antacid or acid-blocking medication for heartburn. Zantac or Pepcid is safe in late pregnancy
  • If necessary, you might have to lie down for short periods of rest or sleep during the day to make up for your loss of sleep during the night.

Is there anything else I can do?

If your lack of sleep becomes such a problem that your mental and physical health are suffering, talk to us. We may recommend medication such as Benadryl, Tylenol PM, or Unisom. We may also give you a prescription for one of the sedatives that can be taken safely during pregnancy.