Women who are of childbearing age and are having a hard time falling asleep may find that they’re having a hard time sleeping. People who have insomnia may have trouble falling asleep at the beginning of the night, staying asleep in the middle of the night, or waking up too early in the morning. This can happen for either a short period of time (less than three weeks) or long term (more than three weeks).
But difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep can happen to women who are pregnant and those who are not pregnant. So how can you know if insomnia is a sign of early pregnancy?
Is Insomnia a Sign of Early Pregnancy?
Although insomnia on its own is not a reliable indicator of what is happening with a woman’s reproductive system, it can be part of the entire picture. Women who are pregnant may notice that their sleep changes significantly upon becoming pregnant. Some women find that they can’t sleep very well, while others find themselves sleeping a lot more than usual. Combined with other symptoms of pregnancy, insomnia may be considered a sign.
Reasons for Insomnia in Early Pregnancy
So many things are happening in the body during pregnancy that many women commonly experience fatigue, exhaustion, and excessive daytime sleepiness during the early stages. Daytime sleepiness affects more than 35% of pregnant women around 6-7 weeks of pregnancy. Drowsiness may lead to napping during the day or even falling asleep when sitting still. This may lead to insomnia because long naps taken during the day can cause a disturbance in the sleeping cycle and undermine a pregnant woman’s ability to sleep at night.
Increased levels of the progesterone hormone can also result in interrupted sleep cycles. Hormones play a significant role in sleep cycles and an increase in progesterone can cause fragmentation of sleep and reduce the overall quality of sleep at night.
Another reason for increased insomnia of women in early pregnancy can be related to the increased need to urinate. Pregnancy hormones increase the frequency of the need to urinate. As this happens during the night, pregnant women will find themselves waking up often to go to the bathroom. This can create an inability to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night, resulting in insomnia.
Along the same lines, nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy can be a common issue and create an inability to sleep well. Leg cramps, breast tenderness, increased appetite, back pain, abdominal discomfort, heartburn, and vivid dreams can also come along with pregnancy and result in keeping pregnant women awake at night.
One common cause of insomnia (during pregnancy or not) is stress. Women who are pregnant may find many reasons to be concerned or anxious about their future with a new baby. Worry can turn into insomnia, particularly when your pregnancy hormones are raging and waking you up for other reasons.
What to Do About Pregnancy and Insomnia
People who have insomnia (in pregnancy or not) typically find recommendations from doctors to treat the sleeping condition in a natural manner. After seeking a doctor’s help for chronic insomnia, you may find relief with these actions:
- Sleep Hygiene. Make sure that you are preparing your body and mind for sleep by relaxing before bedtime. Take a warm bath, lower the lights, read a book.
- Turn Off Devices. Blue light from smartphones, computers, and televisions can cause your brain to go on overdrive. Turn off your devices at least two hours prior to going to sleep.
- Avoid Spicy Foods. Heartburn can be a problem that keeps pregnant women awake at night so try to stick to mild foods that won’t irritate you.
- Sleeping Environment. Make sure your bedroom is ideal for sleeping by blocking out light with room darkening curtains. Turn off phone notifications that could wake you. Make sure you’re your mattress and pillows are comfortable for you. And keep the temperature of your room somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees.
- Noise Reduction. If you live on a busy street, have loud neighbors, or sleep with a snoring partner, you may need to reduce the noise. Try earplugs, a white noise machine, or soothing music to help you get to sleep at night.
Insomnia during pregnancy is no laughing matter. Your body needs to sleep well so that you can grow another person. If you’re struggling with sleep during pregnancy, don’t be afraid to mention it to your doctor or midwife so that they can help you get back on track with your sleeping. Hopefully it will be a temporary situation and you’ll soon be resting well again. That is, until your baby is born and keeping you awake at night for other reasons!