Can pregnancy cause insomnia?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Pregnancy causes physical changes such as repositioning of the abdominal and thorax organs to accommodate the growing uterus, physiologic changes such as changing levels of hormone secretion and oxygen intake and psychological change as the excitement and anxiety of pregnancy and impending motherhood are experienced. All of these changes combined with the difficulty of finding a comfortable sleeping position in the second half of pregnancy can lead to difficulty sleeping.

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing Specialist

Many women have difficulty sleeping during pregnancy. When you are pregnant the uterus presses on the bladder so there are often more trips to the bathroom during the night. Many women have trouble getting back to sleep when they are woken up during the night. Indigestion, leg cramps and many of the other common discomforts of pregnancy may make it harder for that good night’s uninterrupted sleep as we know it. Take heart. This is mother nature giving on the job training for learning how to sleep for several hours at a time, get up and go back to sleep. I tell my patients that this actually helps mom to get ready to be up and down with her new baby and learn to try for a nap during the day. Drinking warm milk or a sleepy time herbal tea, warm baths and decreased stimulation before bed can help you drift off for your first stint of sleep during the night. Decreasing the stress in your life and getting massages and emotional support for all your physical changes will also help. Make sure to discuss your sleep concerns with your midwife or ob/gyn.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

When it comes to sleeping during pregnancy, you just can't impose your will on your body. A few causes of insomnia during pregnancy include back pain, heartburn, anxiety and vivid dreams, just to name a few. However, there are some little things that will make you more comfortable. Some suggestions:

  • Try multiple pillows, which will pull the baby away from your diaphragm.
  • Don't drink water after 6 p.m. to reduce bathroom use—and no caffeine either. (Make sure you get your 2 quarts a day before that.)
  • Quiet the pain (through acetaminophen) so that you can get the restorative sleep you need.
  • Try a small glass of warm skim milk, but not after 6 p.m. The lactose stimulates insulin, which helps proteins enter the brain and help people fall asleep.
  • Create a dark and quiet environment in the bedroom, using the bed for sleep and sex only (and not for work or surfing the web).
  • Ratchet up the air conditioner; it's easier to sleep in a cooler environment.

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), there are other alternative therapies for sleep disorders, including:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Light therapy; where you expose yourself to bright light in the morning and avoid light in the evening
  • Melatonin; which is effective in regulating the body's internal clock (Ask your doctor before taking any supplements.)
  • Yoga; which builds your strength, flexibility and balance, as well as incorporates breathing exercises that have been shown to improve sleep
  • Biofeedback devices; which help patients learn to control bodily functions like heart rate and temperature
  • Exercise; doing so four to five hours before bed raises your body temperature above normal, and as your body temperature starts to fall a few hours later, that triggers your body to get ready for sleep.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time, are trying to start your family, or already have enough children to start your own basketball team, you're bound to have questions about what it means to be pregnant -- and how you can increase your odds of having a healthy and happy pregnancy. But no matter how much you've read, watched, studied, or talked about this amazing biological journey, you have never read anything like this. In this groundbreaking book, Dr. Michael Roizen and Dr. Mehmet Oz act as mythbusters for the hundreds of questions surrounding pregnancy in the same scientific, informative, and entertaining ways that have made them America's Doctors. In these pages, you'll learn everything you need to know about the miracles of fetal development, your health throughout the pregnancy, and providing the best possible environment for your growing child. Pregnancy is a complicated balancing act, but it doesn't have to be frightening. The doctors will help you de-stress as they describe accurately and rationally what happens during a thrilling nine months of life. While every pregnant body is different, odds are you'll experience some of the cravings, crying, and discomfort that almost all women go through. Your best tactic? Learn why these things are happening -- and what you should do about them. YOU: Having a Baby will teach you everything you need to know about what to eat (should I be eating for two?), how much to exercise, and what guilty pleasures will actually make pregnancy easier on you (and the loved ones who get to be around you for the whole thing). Each phase of pregnancy has different challenges, but the right information will prepare you for what's ahead. The interactive week-by-week calendar inside provides an even more detailed guideline for how and what you should feel through every step of the process. Exciting, cutting-edge scientific research in the fi eld of epigenetics has changed the way the medical profession looks at pregnancy, and now it can change your perspective, too. Epigenetics explores what makes us develop in certain ways -- why some people thrive at math while others are prone to chronic diseases. It turns out that there are easy things you can do that will not just help your baby's development in utero but will actually improve his or her chances of living a healthy, fulfi lling adult life. Filled with recipes for nutritious, satisfying snacks and meals even Pop can cook (yes, he can!), safe exercises for staying fit, and tons of YOU tips that will help you stay comfortable, YOU: Having a Baby is the ultimate guidebook for what to do from the moment of conception to the weeks after your child has arrived home. From morning sickness and food cravings to choosing a doctor and changing a diaper, YOU: Having a Baby will give you the real scoop about what's in store for you during this amazing time in your life.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.