Insomnia During Pregnancy: Factors & Simple Remedies

APR 5, 2020

Insomnia During Pregnancy: Factors & Simple Remedies

Frequent micturition, back pain and nausea during pregnancy often make mothers-to-be very tense during their sleep. A study by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that 78% of women find themselves having more problems than usual with sleeping during pregnancy, especially in early and late pregnancy.

Factors for insomnia during pregnancy

a) Pregnant women are more sensitive mentally and psychologically, and their tolerance to stress is lowered, which often leads to depression and insomnia. The hormones that affect the human body during pregnancy are mainly estrogen and progesterone. The hormone levels in the mother-to-be's body are in a state of flux, and the level of progesterone will continue to increase. During this period, many mothers will experience morning sickness, such as nausea and vomiting, which are actually caused by hormonal changes in the body.

b) In the early stages of pregnancy, perhaps half of all mothers-to-be experience frequent urination, but in the later stages, nearly 80% of pregnant women suffer from frequent urination, which seriously affects their sleep quality. Most frequent urination is due to the pressure of the enlarged uterus on the bladder, which gives mothers the urge to "pee".

c) In late pregnancy, many pregnant women often experience leg cramps, which also affect the quality of their sleep. Most of the cramps are related to the sleeping position, and they usually tend to occur when the feet are palms down. In addition, it may also be related to local blood circulation and blood acidity. Normal blood is usually alkaline, but emotional instability and too much meat/sugar in the diet can easily make the blood acidic, causing an electrolyte imbalance and local muscle cramps.

d) Many pregnant women experience abdominal fullness due to the slowing down of muscle peristalsis of the digestive organs. Other mothers-to-be are baffled by constant acid reflux and heartburn, which is caused by the retrograde peristalsis of the stomach caused by pregnancy, resulting in the reflux of acidic contents in the stomach and irritation of the mucous membranes.

e) As the belly grows larger, the weight on the spine and back muscles of pregnant women increases, often causing back and lower back pain, making it more difficult to move around and interfering with sleep. At the same time, the pregnant woman's body begins to secrete hormone relaxin, which allows the body to prepare for labor. However, relaxin can also make the ligaments in various parts of the body laxer, making pregnant women more prone to injury, especially in the back.

f) Insomnia during pregnancy is also related to the psychological stress of the mother-to-be, such as worrying about the stability of the baby in the womb and whether there will be any accidents. Some pregnant women who are pregnant for the first time may worry about whether their baby will have any deformities, whether their intelligence is normal, etc., despite having regular maternity checkups. Due to hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, these inner worries may also be magnified, triggering anxiety, which can also lead to symptoms of insomnia during pregnancy.

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A. Let out your emotions.

Along with the baby comes all those little emotions and ruminations that come from nowhere: wonderful fantasies about the birth of the baby, some worries about being a first-time parent, all of which are perfectly normal. Instead of keeping these thoughts bottled up and making yourself more anxious, try to express them in some way. It is possible to sleep more soundly when you are emotionally stable.

A good way to do this is to discuss your innermost thoughts with a friend who has experience with parenting, or your partner. It's not that you need someone to comfort you or give you advice, but it's also good to simply talk for a while to distract yourself. If you don't want to talk about it, it's also great to keep a diary of your journey, not only to vent your emotions, but also to get a copy of your precious pregnancy record - and if it's good, maybe a book.

B. Create your own sleep ritual.

Dim bedroom lighting with soft piano music or the white noise of chirping insects and frogs in the summer can create a great atmosphere to help calm the mind and can help with sleep. In addition, reading a book, writing in a journal, doing stretching exercises and yoga during pregnancy can help calm the brain. Try not to play with your cell phone or use electronic devices half an hour before bedtime, as this can overstimulate your brain and the blue light emitted from the screen can inhibit melatonin secretion, affecting your sleep quality.

Secondly, pregnant mothers should also try sleeping on their sides with their legs slightly bent, which is the most comfortable and best position for both mother and baby. The best sleeping position for pregnant women is to lie on the left side because it will not cause too much pressure on the heart and will not affect the body's blood supply due to the pressure. In the middle and late stages of pregnancy, the feet and legs of pregnant mothers tend to be swollen, and lying on the left side can reduce the swelling. In addition, lying on the left side can speed up the blood flow to the uterus and placenta, effectively supplying nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and preventing fetal hypoxia from occurring. The increased blood volume and weight of the upper limbs during pregnancy can lead to varicose veins in the lower limbs, so sleeping on the left side can reduce varicose veins in the lower limbs and prevent hemorrhoids.

Also, consider using a pillow to help you sleep more comfortably. For example, some pregnant women feel that putting a pillow under their waist or between their legs will make them sleep better, and some are used to sleeping with a small pillow behind their backs. As long as you feel comfortable, you can do so.

Lastly, try to adjust and build your own sleep routine in the early stages of pregnancy and stick to it, even on weekends. A regular routine will help you get a better night's sleep.

C. Light diet and balanced water intake.

A common cause of insomnia for many pregnant women is the frequent nighttime trips to the toilet. The enlarged uterus pressing on the bladder in late pregnancy can easily lead to frequent urination, so pregnant mothers should stay hydrated during the day and avoid drinking too much water after dinner.

During pregnancy, you should also try a light diet and avoid foods that are too greasy or spicy. Eating too much can also lead to indigestion. If you are constantly waking up in the middle of the night feeling hungry, you can grab a snack before going to bed.

D. Safe pregnancy workouts.

Pregnant women can do some simple exercises with the permission of their doctors. Moderate exercise can help pregnant women burn off energy and fall asleep better.
Taking a walk, for example, is a good choice, as is yoga, low-impact aerobics, and stationary bike cycling. 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough, and the intensity of the exercise should be noted. If you can't speak properly while exercising, it means that the intensity of the exercise may have been too strong. Also, remember to stretch well before exercising. Timely hydration is also important.

If you still can't sleep...

A. Get out of bed

If it takes more than thirty minutes and you still can't fall asleep, why not just get up and find something boring to do to burn off some of your energy? For example, read a few pages of a book or magazine that does not interest you, or listen to a somewhat dull podcast, etc., and then go to bed again. Remember, don’t get your hands on the phone, or any other electronic devices with a screen. Trust me, they can negatively impact your sleep by engaging the mind at a time when it should be winding down.

B. Nap wisely

If there is really no way to sleep well at night, you can supplement nighttime sleep with naps during the day. A study shows that expectant mothers who regularly take afternoon naps may reduce their baby’s risk of low birth weight. So, if you can’t get enough sleep at night, just take naps during the day and tell people you are sleeping for two. But don’t nap for too long – it will disrupt your nighttime sleep.

C. Be cautious with sleep medication

Many people choose to take sleeping pills such as melatonin when they are not sleeping well, but for pregnant women, all medications need to be used with caution. Therefore, whether you plan to try melatonin or other sleep aids, or even certain herbal sleep aid remedies that claim to be completely natural and harmless, consult your doctor first, and take medications under his or her supervision.