Ways to Beat Pregnancy Insomnia and Sleep Better

Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also wreak havoc on your sleep. Up to 60% of pregnant women deal with insomnia symptoms like difficulty falling asleep, frequent nighttime awakenings, and poor sleep quality. 

Insomnia during pregnancy can increase your risk for complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. It can also lead to exhaustion, mood changes, and impaired concentration. The good news? There are many effective remedies that can help you beat pregnancy insomnia and sleep better.

Understanding the Causes of Pregnancy Insomnia

Before diving into solutions, it’s important to understand what causes insomnia during pregnancy:

  • Hormonal Changes – Increased progesterone relaxes muscles and blood vessels, which can disrupt sleep. Rising estrogen levels can also interfere with sleep cycles.
  • Physical Discomfort – Back pain, leg cramps, heartburn, and frequent bathroom trips can make it hard to fall and stay asleep. Getting a luxury pillows for your bed can help provide more comfort.
  • Anxiety/Stress – Excitement and worries about labor, delivery, and becoming a new parent can cause insomnia.
  • Digestive Issues – Constipation and indigestion are common pregnancy complaints that disrupt sleep.

Knowing what triggers your insomnia is key to treating it effectively.

Lifestyle Changes for Better Sleep 

Simple lifestyle tweaks can dramatically improve pregnancy sleep:

Maintain a Regular Sleep Routine

Going to bed and waking up at consistent times trains your body’s internal clock for better sleep. Try to stick to the same schedule, even on weekends. Waking up at the same time each morning helps set your circadian rhythm.

Optimize Your Sleep Environment

Keep your bedroom cool (around 65°F), dark, and quiet. Consider using blackout curtains, an eye mask, earplugs, a fan, or a white noise machine to minimize disruptions. Also, make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable.

Be Choosy About Naps

While napping can help relieve daytime fatigue, it can also worsen pregnancy insomnia. Limit naps to 30 minutes before 3 p.m. to avoid interfering with nighttime sleep. Get into a relaxing position and set an alarm.

Exercise Daily

Getting at least 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise like walking, swimming, or prenatal yoga can improve sleep quality. But avoid vigorous workouts too close to bedtime, as they can be energizing. Check with your provider about safe prenatal exercise.

Avoid Sleep Disruptors

Steer clear of caffeine, large meals, alcohol, smoking, and screen time on phones/TVs at least 1-2 hours before bed. Caffeine and heavy foods can interfere with sleep. Establish a calming pre-bed routine like reading or light stretching.

Foods and Nutrition for Better Sleep

Dietary changes can ease issues like heartburn and frequent urination for uninterrupted sleep:

Eat Smaller, Earlier Meals – Large late-night meals can trigger heartburn and bathroom trips.

Stay Hydrated – Drink plenty of water during the day to avoid middle-of-the-night thirst. But limit fluids to 1-2 hours before bed.

Avoid Heartburn Triggers – Steer clear of spicy, fried, and acidic foods that can cause heartburn.

Eat Heartburn-Friendly Snacks – Bananas, oatmeal, yogurt, and chamomile tea can ease symptoms.

Try Sleep-Promoting Foods – Dairy, bananas, cherries, chamomile tea, and foods with magnesium promote sleep.

Using Pregnancy Pillows and Positions

The right pillows and sleep positions can take pressure off your back, hips, and belly for more comfortable rest:

Invest in a Pregnancy Pillow 

A pregnancy pillow is an investment that will help you sleep better during pregnancy and beyond. These specialized pillows aim to:

  • Support your back and belly
  • Relieve pressure on hips and joints 
  • Improve spinal alignment
  • Prevent pain from sciatica and carpal tunnel

The right pregnancy pillow allows you to sleep comfortably on your side, which is the safest position during pregnancy. 

The C-shaped Snoogle is one of the most popular pillows for its full-body support design. It tucks under your head, between your knees, and cradles your back and belly. The Snoogle adapts to your changing body throughout pregnancy.

For back sleepers, the Back ‘N Belly offers both belly and lower back support. Use it later for nursing or reading in bed.

See the comparison table below for other top-rated pregnancy pillows:

Pillow Key Features Price
Snoogle C-shape; full body support $55
Back ‘N Belly Curved for back & belly support $50
Cozy Bump Inflatable; adjustable firmness $69
PharMeDoc C-shape with adjustable firmness $40

Consider your sleep style and changing body to choose the right pregnancy pillow for you. It’s a small investment that can make a huge difference in your comfort and rest!

Optimize Your Sleep Position 

The best pregnancy sleep position depends on your trimester:

  • 1st Trimester – Sleep on your back or side before the belly gets too big.
  • 2nd Trimester – Side sleeping works best to improve blood flow. 
  • 3rd Trimester – Prop your belly with pillows while sleeping on your side.

Avoid sleeping flat on your back after the 1st trimester.

Natural Remedies for Pregnancy Insomnia

For mild insomnia, natural options are safer than medications during pregnancy:  

  • Meditation and Breathing Exercises – Calm anxiety and restless thoughts before bed. Try phone apps like Headspace for guidance.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Systematically tense and relax muscle groups to reduce stress.
  • Yoga – Gentle poses like a child’s pose can relieve aches and calm the mind. 
  • Warm Bath – A warm (not hot!) bath 1-2 hours before bedtime relaxes muscles. Add Epsom or Himalayan pink salts to soothe body aches.
  • Essential Oils – Lavender, chamomile, and bergamot oils promote relaxation. Add a few drops to a warm bath, diffuser, or pillow.

When to Seek Medical Help

If lifestyle changes don’t improve severe or persistent pregnancy insomnia, consult your healthcare provider sooner rather than later. The risks of untreated insomnia generally outweigh those of treatment.

Your doctor has several safe and effective treatment options for pregnancy insomnia:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – CBT is considered the first-line treatment for insomnia, including during pregnancy. It helps identify and change counterproductive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that disrupt sleep. CBT also teaches relaxation techniques and better sleep habits.
  • Bright Light Therapy – Exposure to bright light helps reset your body’s internal clock that regulates sleep cycles. Doctors may recommend using a light therapy box for 30 minutes each morning. This helps improve sleep quality at night.  
  • Prescription Medications – If other options fail, doctors may prescribe low-dose sleep medications as a last resort if the benefits outweigh the risks. Newer medications like Belsomra have less risk of side effects and dependence.
  • Acupuncture – There is some evidence that acupuncture can relieve insomnia symptoms like anxiety and restless legs. It may help balance hormones that disrupt sleep. Look for an experienced practitioner who specializes in pregnancy acupuncture.

Caution: Don’t take OTC sleep aids like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or melatonin without medical guidance. It’s critical to discuss all medications and supplements with your doctor during pregnancy.

The key is addressing pregnancy insomnia early on for the safest and healthiest pregnancy possible. With some practical lifestyle changes, natural remedies, and open communication with your healthcare provider, you can overcome pregnancy sleep troubles once and for all.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it safe to take sleep medications during pregnancy?

Most doctors recommend avoiding sleep medications during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Antihistamines like Benadryl may be considered later in pregnancy if insomnia is severe. Medications should be a last resort and taken at the lowest dose for the shortest time possible.

  • How can I manage heartburn that disrupts my sleep? 

Avoid spicy, fried, and acidic foods. Eat smaller meals 4-6 hours before bedtime. Prop your head and shoulders up with pillows if you experience reflux at night. Drink beverages like almond milk to relieve discomfort. Talk to your doctor about safe antacids like Tums if needed. 

  • What are the long-term effects of pregnancy insomnia on maternal and fetal health?

Studies link pregnancy insomnia to increased risk of preterm birth, longer labor, and maternal exhaustion/depression after delivery. Lack of sleep may also impact fetal brain development and contribute to childhood behavioral disorders. Seeking treatment is crucial for the well-being of both mother and baby.