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Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

Between the cramps, backache, shortness of breath, odd dreams, big belly and worries, nighttime is really hard. Any tips on falling and staying asleep?

Re: Between the cramps, backache, shortness of breath, odd dreams, big belly and worries, nighttime is really hard. Any tips on falling and staying asleep?

The Bump Expert

Maria Kammerer, CNM: Tips for falling and staying asleep depend on the reason for the difficulty sleeping. If leg cramps are the problem, stretching your calf muscles before bed and in the morning can help decrease their frequency. Upping your calcium and potassium intake (try a yogurt and banana smoothie) can also help. Enlist your partner to flex your feet when cramps do come -- this can decrease the severity. Backaches have many causes, but using an abdominal support belt during the day and lots of pillows under your stomach and between your legs during the night can reduce some of the discomfort. Shortness of breath can happen anytime in pregnancy, but many women experience it most during the third trimester. Using pillows to prop yourself up in bed or sleeping in the living room in a recliner can help. Worries about the pregnancy, your baby's health, labor and impending parenthood are very normal. I usually recommend taking stress reduction and/or childbirth preparation classes. You can also try writing down a list of your worries before bed and setting it aside so you don’t dwell on these worries into the night. A few tools and a little knowledge can go a long way toward reducing your stress.

In order to fall asleep, establish a calming routine to help you wind down after a busy day. This might include reading a book, drinking a small glass of chamomile tea, reducing your overall fluid intake after 7 p.m., getting a neck, shoulder, back or foot massage from your partner (whichever area needs it most!), and/or taking a warm bath. Stay active during the day, but don’t overdo it. Regular, low-impact exercise like swimming, walking and prenatal yoga can improve sleep and is also a good habit to get into for after pregnancy.

Basically, it comes down to figuring out what seems to be disturbing your sleep most, and working to reduce that. Then you can work on the other things -- don’t try to change everything at once!  And expect the cause of your sleeplessness to change as pregnancy progresses. For me, it was hip pain in the third trimester. Keeping one pillow between my legs helped a bit. What also helped was knowing that my discomfort was limited. Soon my little one would be born and the pain would be gone. (And I’d have a whole new set of reasons why I wasn’t getting sleep!)

If you’ve gone several nights with little sleep and basic comfort measures haven’t helped, don’t hesitate to talk with your provider.

Maria Kammerer

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

My sleep problems with this one started before I even knew I was pregnant. At first I was just waking up really early in the morning and thought I had lots of energy. As morning sickness kicked in, it was miserable. I wanted nothing more than to sleep but I woke up about every two hours and was sick and couldn't sleep again. I eventually figured out that I was waking up because my blood sugar was getting too low, which is hard to avoid when you can hardly eat anything. I did some research and found out that when your blood sugar plummets is triggers a release of adrenaline in your body to restore sapped energy. This explained why I was not only wakeful but would feel very anxious during these mid-night episodes as well. And I don't mean I was worried about the pregnancy. This is my third and I'm pretty calm about it. This is generalized anxiety. I have discovered that raising my blood sugar is the best way to relax and get back to sleep. Even if my stomach feels kind of off or not hungry I'll eat a cereal bar and maybe a banana. I think tonight I'll drink juice instead of water to get a quicker boost. I really hope this post helps someone because I have really struggled over the last three months and wish someone had had some advice for me!

titania9 |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

I totally agree for first trimester nausea that doing what you can to eliminate blood sugar swings is probably the best way to reduce nausea (nothing makes it go away - sorry). Make sure what you are eating are complex carbs - whole grains, not sugary foods - this will help you stay even. They say protien was best, but I couldn't stand the smell of any kind of meat so I looked for protien fortified foods (mini bagels with cream cheese were a staple). Good luck!

nicte83 |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

Low blood sugar! That totally makes sense! Here I am awake at 4:00 AM and VERY ENERGIZED. Titania9 makes some good sense! Fixed a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich...and beginning to feel drowzy again :)

Cuddlebucket |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

well for myself. when its time to go to sleep i drink a warm glass of hot chocolate to, and it really really helps

buffalita |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

Well i found it to be easier to sleep during the day when your body is telling you to sleep and relax not just becasue it gets dark, but at night try sleeping with a heating pad of body pillow. A nice back rub before bed from husband is nice too.

kkorsak21 |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

A low GI snack just before going to bed has worked wonders for me. I was struggling to stay asleep for longer than 2-3 hours at some point. I was not feeling anxious, I was experiencing a kind of adrenaline surge. I then worked out that if I was having a low GI snack about 30 mins to 1 hour before going to bed I could get 4-6 hours in a row which was great. I normally have some bran flakes with milk or a slice of bran cake, I also always incorporate complex carbs with my dinner.

supermilenchen |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

I have had the worst time falling asleep, and I usually wake up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night. This is usually due to anxiety, so I haven't quite found a way to overcome it yet. I'm trying to be realistic and not let my hormones blow things way out of proportion! Having a hubby that constantly says "everything will be ok" helps too:)

born2Bmomma |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

I wake up because I have to pee every 20 min and I have back and pelvic pain. I try and do some stretches to help me feel better. What really helps me be relaxed and go back to sleep is watching The Golden girls.

IloveDD |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

i wake up every night between 1am and 2am because of back/pelvic pain and BH. It has me at the end of my rope. I still have 2wks until my due date.

kdadd001 |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

I feel all of your pain!! I have never had this sort of trouble sleeping. My doc said that is perfectly fine to take some benedryl (only every now and then, if it's been several days since I've slept). The problem with that is you can't really take it every night. The low blood sugar thing really makes sense. I will try a granola bar or cereal next time!

RJalways |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

I'm 18 weeks pregnant and was sleeping just fine ( minus the having to pee every hour) until Last Wednesday when I found out what the baby was ( A BOY!!). Now I find myself having the strangest dreams and constantly waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep. I guess its from me being as excited as a kid on Christmas eve, but how could you NOT be excited. This is my first child and of course I get worried just like anyone else would, but as of right now I'm just ready to be a mom and take care of my little boy. Anyone have a remedy for an excited, sleepless mommy to be? lol

jamielou1005 |

Q&A: Trouble sleeping during pregnancy?

my problem is I can't fall asleep. I am going pee literally 20 times a night I lay in bed for at least 4 hours wide awake and can't figure out why?? I have told my OB and she seems to just blow it off. During the day I am a walking zombie trying to keep my 6 year old entertained in her summer vacation. I could nap during the day but am afraid it will make my night even worse. I have 12 days until my scheduled c section and am kinda praying I go into labour even earlier than that so I can just sleep.Im sure there is nothing you can take like a sleep aid when your pregnant anybody have any other suggestions???

jackrabbit0505 |