How to cope with being pregnant insomnia

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From nausea and back pain to swollen ankles, feet, and fingers, expectant parents experience a host of weird (and uncomfortable) pregnancy symptoms. They are a by-product of changing hormones – and growing a whole person in your body. But while morning sickness can be the most common complaint, at least during the first trimester, another problem many face is pregnancy-related insomnia.

“Pregnancy insomnia is the inability to sleep, or sleep well, during pregnancy, particularly in a person who doesn’t have trouble outside of pregnancy,” says Jill Purdie, MD, OB-GYN and medical director at Northside Women’s Specialists in Atlanta.

Here’s everything you need to know about pregnancy-related insomnia and how to treat it.

What is pregnancy insomnia?

Pregnancy insomnia — or pregnancy-related insomnia — is a condition that disrupts the sleep pattern of expectant parents. “Pregnancy insomnia typically involves difficulty falling asleep, frequent nocturnal awakenings, and a decreased amount of deep, restorative sleep,” says Alex Savy, a board-certified sleep science coach.

When Does Insomnia During Pregnancy Start?

While pregnancy-related insomnia can occur at any point during pregnancy, most people experience trouble during their third trimester. This is partly due to your growing height. The bigger your baby is, the more difficult it is to eat, move and breathe. But listlessness and insomnia can also occur in the first trimester thanks to morning sickness and .

What Causes Pregnancy Insomnia?

There are many potential causes of insomnia during pregnancy, says Chasity Jennings-Nunez, MD, OB-GYN and Hospitalist Site Director for OBHG at Adventist Health-Glendale in Glendale, California.

“Some causes are related to common symptoms of pregnancy, such as nausea, frequent urination, fetal movement, and difficulty finding a comfortable position,” says Dr. Jennings-Nunez. “Mental health issues like and depression can also cause insomnia. And more serious problems like obstructive sleep apnea can occur or worsen due to excess weight gain in pregnancy, particularly in a mother who is overweight to begin the pregnancy.”

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Is Insomnia Harmful During Pregnancy?

While pregnancy-related insomnia isn’t particularly harmful to you or your baby, listlessness and insomnia can cause a variety of other problems. In particular, insomnia has been linked to depression and anxiety. It can also increase your risk of gestational diabetes, premature birth, and/or prolonged labour.

How Do I Treat Pregnancy Insomnia?

To treat pregnancy-related insomnia, the first step is to identify the cause. “Treating nausea and vomiting or heartburn and back pain in pregnancy is helpful for many,” says Dr. Jennings-Nunez. “Treating psychological, social and familial factors that contribute to poor sleep can be challenging, but offers long-term benefits for both the health of the pregnant woman and the newborn.” Establishing a consistent bedtime routine is also crucial.

Make sure to drink enough water and limit your caffeine consumption. Drop the screens an hour (or two) before bed, as too much blue light can disrupt sleep patterns. Avoid heartburn-inducing foods, especially in the evenings, and keep your room cool. You should also find a comfortable sleeping position. It is best to lie on your side with your knees bent.

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