What Can Be Done If You Suffer From Sleeping Problems During Pregnancy?

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Mar 22, 2015 | Last Updated: May 7, 2019

Sleeping Problems During Different Trimesters Of Pregnancy

Most women expect sleep deprivation as the baby comes. However, what they least expected was the fact that sleep deprivation will occur by the time they get impregnated. Thus, it could be difficult for a pregnant woman, especially first-timers, to get some sleep all throughout the pregnancy. There are various reasons why women find it hard to sleep and these are dependent on the trimester they are in.

Sleep and the First Trimester of Pregnancy

During the first trimester, pregnant women often feel sleepy or lethargic. This is because their body is adjusting to the rise of progesterone. Progesterone is one of the active hormones in a woman’s body that maintain pregnancy. As a result, she feels drowsier, fatigued, and most of the time, sleepy. Despite the fact that she feels a lot sleepier than she used to, she could hardly get some sleep because of some factors that prevent her from doing so. These include the following disturbances:

  • Body Changes: Some of the body changes, such as breast tenderness may cause discomfort to women making it hard for them to catch some sleep because they focus on the discomfort rather than focusing on getting some sleep.
  • Urinary Frequency: This is another problem that hinders a woman from getting some sleep. The culprit for frequent bathroom trips is also caused by the hormone, progesterone. Progesterone makes the smooth muscles of the bladder to relax, thereby influencing frequent urges to urinate.
  • Nausea During Prgnancy
  • Nausea: During the first trimester, nausea is termed as “morning sickness”. However, to the majority of pregnant women, nausea can occur anytime, not necessarily just in the morning. According to ob-gynecologists, morning sickness is common among women in the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy and the feeling of being nauseated can even wake them up from their sleep.
  • Throbbing Headache: Some women can also feel throbbing headache during the first trimester as a result of hormonal fluctuation. When hormones ebb and flow, the blood vessels dilate resulting in headaches and sleep disturbances.

Sleep and the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

Upon the onset of the second trimester, pregnant women may feel a little relieved from the troubles of the first trimester. Pregnant women may begin to regain energy and start to engage in activities. However, ob-gynecologists suggest that women should have maximized rest periods during this trimester, and continue getting as much sleep as possible. Some of the possible causes of sleep disturbance may include the following:

  • Difficulty In Positioning: Some women may find it hard to get some sleep because they are used to sleeping on their back. However, at this stage they are not allowed to lie on their back as this may cause vena cava compression. Instead, they are instructed to lie on the left, making it difficult for some to get comfortable.
  • Heartburn: This difficulty results from the compression of the diaphragm. As the uterus enlarges, it compresses the surrounding organs to make room for the growing fetus. When the diaphragm is compressed, the esophageal sphincter and intestines become displaced, and breathing becomes more and more shallow. As a result, heartburn and esophageal reflexes become common, especially when they lie on their backs.
  • Nightmares During Pregnancy
  • Nightmares: There are also women who experience nightmares during the second trimester. According to Dr. Lee, 72% of pregnant women experience frightening dreams or nightmares during the second trimester. Most of the time, these dreams can be related to the baby or the fetus.

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Sleep and the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

When a pregnant woman reaches her third trimester of pregnancy, she begins to experience more sleep deprivation. Thus, she begins to feel more fatigued and lethargic like she did during the first trimester and problems or disturbances will once again add injury to insomnia. Some of the most common disturbances include the following:
1. General Discomfort: Pregnant women in the third trimester of their pregnancy complain of sleep disturbances brought about by back pain and muscle aches. These can be linked to the ligaments between the pelvic bones that are softening and the joints that begin to loosen to prepare for childbirth.
2. Night Walking: According to experts, studies have shown that approximately 97% of women awaken at night and walk around, which can result in sleep disturbances.
3. Snoring: Pregnant women snore during the pregnancy because of the increase in abdominal girth, diaphragm compression, and nasal congestion. Approximately 30% of pregnant women snore because of swollen nasal passages that block their airways, which may result in poor oxygenation, not only to the mother, but the fetus as well. Thus, it is best to seek medical attention when snoring is observed during pregnancy to prevent complications.
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4. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Leg Cramps: According to the poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 15% of the pregnant women develop restless legs syndrome. This is characterized by clinical manifestations, such as uncomfortable feelings on the upper leg, calf, or the foot. This may also disturb sleep, especially at nighttime.
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