Sleep problems in pregnant women: Causes and tips

Sleeping during the first trimester of pregnancy may not cause any problems. Some women find that they need more sleep than normal during pregnancy. A pregnant woman’s body works hard for a growing baby. Pregnant women therefore get tired more quickly. Later in pregnancy it is often more difficult to sleep well. This has several causes, such as the search for the right sleeping position and stress. Thanks to some tips, a pregnant woman can improve her night’s sleep.

  • Shortness of breath in pregnant women
  • Heartburn and sleep problems
  • Nasal problems during all trimesters of pregnancy
  • Aches and pains
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleeping position in pregnant women
  • Stress and dreams
  • Urinate more often
  • Increased heart rate
  • Moving in bed
  • Tips to sleep comfortably during pregnancy
  • Limit certain drinks
  • Catch up on sleep
  • Do not take sleeping pills
  • Do not worry
  • Use pillows
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule


Shortness of breath in pregnant women

In the beginning, the pregnant woman has deeper breathing due to pregnancy hormones. As a result, the pregnant woman seems to have to make more effort to get air. As the baby takes up more space, it puts more pressure on the diaphragm (the muscle just below the lungs), causing shortness of breath and sleep problems.

Heartburn and sleep problems

During pregnancy, the entire digestive system slows down. Food stays in the stomach and intestines longer. This causes heartburn, which is often worse at night. Constipation sometimes also occurs. Eating a large meal several hours before bedtime is not recommended. Some women find it helpful to eat a large breakfast and lunch and then have a smaller dinner. If nausea keeps the pregnant woman awake, it is best to eat a few crackers before going to bed.

Nasal problems during all trimesters of pregnancy

A blocked nose, postnasal drip (throat mucus: excessive mucus in the back of the throat) and coughing during the night also occur, possibly during the entire pregnancy period. Higher estrogen and progesterone levels increase blood volume everywhere, including the nasal membranes. This causes them to swell and produce more mucus than ever. Saline nasal sprays and nose drops are safe and relieve nighttime stuffiness. If these don’t work, the doctor will prescribe other treatments including some decongestants (drugs that reduce swelling of the mucous membranes in the nose) or steroid nasal sprays that may be safe after the first trimester of pregnancy.

Aches and pains

Leg cramps and pain in the legs (leg pain) or back are partly the result of the extra weight a pregnant woman carries. These typical pain complaints usually arise during the second trimester of pregnancy. If a leg cramp wakes up the pregnant woman, she presses her feet hard against the wall or else she stands up briefly.

Restless leg syndrome

Although scientists do not know exactly what causes restless leg syndrome as of October 2020, an estimated 15 percent of pregnant women suffer from this condition. A woman will feel tingling in her legs in the third trimester of pregnancy, with the urge to move them.

Sleeping position in pregnant women

The baby is growing in the belly, which can make it difficult to find a good sleeping position. Some women have always been back or stomach sleepers. However, side sleeping is recommended during pregnancy. Lying on your side with your knees bent is usually the most comfortable position. It makes it easier for the heart to pump blood because the baby puts less pressure on the large vein that carries blood from the legs to the heart. Many doctors tell pregnant women to sleep on the left side. Sleeping on the left side also improves blood flow to the heart, fetus, uterus and kidneys. This also prevents pressure on the liver. If the left hip feels uncomfortable, a woman may lie on her right side for a while. Sleeping flat on the back is not recommended.

Stress and dreams

Many pregnant women worry about the baby or motherhood, making it difficult to sleep. Vivid dreams and nightmares are common during pregnancy. Dreaming and worrying more than usual is not worry, but it is important not to let it overwhelm you. This way, the pregnant woman gets enough quality sleep at night. Relaxing just before bedtime is also helpful. For example, the woman takes a warm bath for fifteen minutes, or else she drinks a warm, caffeine-free drink, such as milk or chamomile tea. If a pregnant woman is experiencing stress or anxiety about motherhood, it is wise to take a parenting course so that the pregnant woman can learn to prepare for the impending changes in life. Relaxation techniques also calm the mind and soothe the muscles. These techniques include stretching, yoga, massage, deep breathing, and taking a warm bath or shower before bed. If these tips do not help, it is wise to talk to a doctor.

Urinate more often

The pregnant woman’s kidneys work harder to filter the extra blood the body produces. This results in more urine. In addition, as the pregnant woman’s baby grows, there is more pressure on the pregnant woman’s bladder. This means that a pregnant woman has to urinate much more often. This problem occurs most often during the first and last trimester of pregnancy.

Increased heart rate

The heart rate increases during pregnancy to pump more blood. This makes it more difficult for a pregnant woman to sleep.

Moving in bed

Moving around in bed also becomes increasingly difficult as the waist size increases.

Tips to sleep comfortably during pregnancy

Limit certain drinks

Certain drinks such as soft drinks, coffee and tea are not recommended. These drinks contain caffeine and are more likely to cause sleep disorders in pregnant women. Drinking a lot of fluids is not recommended right before bedtime.

Catch up on sleep

A pregnant woman takes short naps during the day to make up for lost sleep at night.

Do not take sleeping pills

It is best not to take sleeping pills for a pregnant woman. This also includes over-the-counter medicines and herbal products. The use of other medications during pregnancy also always requires consultation with the doctor.

Do not worry

A pregnant woman should not worry if she has sleeping problems, because this often only worsens the problem. It is often frustrating but completely normal so a woman should try to let it go.

Use pillows

It is possible to use pillows under the abdomen or between the legs. The use of a rolled up pillow or rolled up blanket at the level of the back often relieves some pressure. Additionally, using some type of mattress (egg carton shaped) in bed is helpful in relieving hip pain. It also helps to have extra pillows available to support the body.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule

A (pregnant) woman goes to bed at the same time every day and tries to wake up at the same time every day.

read more

  • Pain during pregnancy in legs, back, head and abdomen
  • Restless legs syndrome: Annoying feelings in lower legs