Sleeping During Pregnancy: Common Problems (And How To Help Them)

Sleep during pregnancy can be rough – and there are many common sleep problems pregnant women will encounter. Here is some sound advice on how to sleep during pregnancy so you will be sleeping sound yourself!

Common Pregnancy Sleep Issues (And How To Them) / pregnancy / pregnancy problems / sleep during pregnancy / first trimester / second trimester / third trimester / pregnancy symptoms

How to Sleep During Pregnancy

3:00 AM.

That’s the time I would always wake up when I was pregnant with Jack.

It mainly had to do with the fact that Forrest had to get up at that time to go work an early morning janitorial job (ahh…the joys of college life).

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But I could never go back to sleep. To say I was tired was an understatement – and it sure didn’t help with my depression during pregnancy.

Between my two pregnancies, I can honestly say that I’ve probably experienced every sleep issue under the sun (because I’m lucky like that), so I thought that my misery should be someone else’s help. In this post, I am going to share all sorts of common pregnancy ailments – and tips for helping them!

Because once the baby comes…the time for sleeping is over 🙂 At least for awhile.

Pregnancy – Can’t Sleep?

Peeing Through the Night

Pregnant nights can be made all the longer when you have to get up to pee every couple of hours.

While there isn’t much you can do about the baby kicking or laying on your bladder, you can try to limit water intake two hours before bedtime. Obviously, don’t do this to the point of dehydration. Keep yourself hydrated! But try to drink more during the day and a little less at night to help.

When I was pregnant with Jack, Forrest had a job he had to leave for at 3:00 in the morning.

I couldn’t sleep AT ALL when he was gone, and I was scared to even get up in the dark to go to the bathroom (yeah, I had issues. haha). I often would try to hold it, which was such a bad idea. Don’t do that! It can lead to UTIs (not fun ever, but especially not during pregnancy) and other issues. So even if you don’t want to get up to pee, you still should.

Crazy and Vivid Dreams During Pregnancy

I’ve always had kind of weird dreams, but pregnancy dreams are, by far, the strangest. It’s very common to have very vivid dreams during pregnancy, but it can be a bit unsettling.

It is thought that this is due to the fluctuations in hormones, which, unfortunately, you can’t really control. If you have a dream that’s particularly unsettling, try and write it down quickly and hopefully that will help you fall back asleep.

I haven’t been able to find much information about how to prevent these vivid dreams…so try to enjoy them? I had so many dreams about my baby’s being born and them either being born as toddlers, coming out of my abdomen and then going back in as they please and more.

It was weird. So I understand being concerned. Just know that it is very normal!

General Discomfort

This is probably one of the biggest complaints during pregnancy – just not feeling comfortable at night.

I hear ya – I tossed and turned all night long with Jack.

When I got pregnant with Oliver, I knew that I had to get sleep somehow. So I invested in a pregnancy pillow.

You guys – it makes the biggest difference. It might take up half the bed, but let me tell you, it WILL help, especially as your belly gets bigger.

If those don’t work? You can try different positions or even sleep in a different room bed or on the couch. A nice bath (with some soothing bath salts). before bed can help relax your muscles – and a prenatal massage might help as well. Do what you can to make yourself comfortable.

**Get a GREAT pregnancy pillow for $50 off at PregnancyPillows.com using the code C113D4**

Temperature

Being pregnant is like having a little heater on your belly – at least, that’s how it was for me!

We didn’t have any AC in our home when I was pregnant with Oliver and let me tell you, it was miserable. I was hot all night long, and that may have been one of the biggest reasons I couldn’t sleep.

I wish I’d had something like the BedJet, and it is something I will definitely have for my next pregnancy. It’s a really neat, new product that basically acts like air conditioning (or as a heater) for your bed. I was blown away when I first saw this. It is a bit of an investment, but when it comes to your sleep…I think it’s worth it. And if you are like me and have horrible postpartum sweats, this will be a lifesaver then too. You can check out more details here.

Heartburn

This was one of my least favorite pregnancy symptoms (not like I really have a favorite). Sadly for me, it didn’t really go away after Jack was born. When I got pregnant with Oliver, I was on medication to control it, but it was still pretty bad.

I think this is one of the things that woke me up most when I was pregnant with Jack. I would wake up and feel as if my entire throat was burning. It made me wish I was throwing up instead – and there are few things I hate more than throwing up!

During that pregnancy, I took TUMS and Pepto Bismol, even though my doctor tried to get me to take something stronger. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to him, and I was miserable.

With Oliver, I continued to take my prescription medication (which is shown to be safe during pregnancy), and it made me realize how silly I was for not taking it before. I was still feeling it, but not nearly as much.

I also invested in a wedge to elevate myself while sleeping, and it really helped. I still use it!

You May Also Like: Heartburn During Pregnancy: Relief, Remedies and Causes

Insomnia

There’s nothing worse than wanting to sleep but not being able to. Insomnia is very common during pregnancy (around 78% of women experience it)– not only are your hormones all whacked out, but you often feel more stressed or overwhelmed with things to do.

Insomnia can happen for any number of reason – starting with discomfort from your belly. Honestly, many other pregnancy sleep issues (such as heartburn, peeing in the night, etc.) can lead to insomnia. Obviously, you need to get as much rest as you can, or it will just make everything else even more difficult. You can talk to your doctor about if there are any medications that may  be safe to take, but here are a few other suggestions:

  • Make sure your room is comfortable – have fresh blankets, make sure the temperature is correct, and maybe even invest in a new pillow. As I mentioned above, pregnancy pillows can make a world of difference.
  • Take a warm bath – essential oils like lavender may help. We really like the Rocky Mountain oils brand.
  • Make a list of everything that is on your mind. This is something that my mom swears by!
  • Exercise regularly – here are some great pregnancy exercise videos.
  • Take short naps during the day – avoid long ones, as this can make it more difficult to sleep at night.
  • Try hypnosis or relaxation techniques – Hypnobabies has a great audio recording for this!

Leg Cramps

Good ol’ charly horses. Who doesn’t love these?

Not. I remember one of my sisters talking about getting these during pregnancy and how much she hated them. I totally understood the first time I had one while I was sleeping.

While there’s not any sure-fire way to prevent them, there are a few things you can try. One way is to not stay in the same position all the time – when you do wake up at night, try and move around and wiggle your toes a little bit.

You can lay down on your left side to encourage better circulation and daily walks can help as well. Staying hydrated during the day and going on regular walks can be a good preventative technique as well. Some research has shown that a magnesium supplement can help prevent cramping as well.

Foods that are high in potassium are also shown to help with leg cramps – some examples include citrus fruits, tomato juice, and bananas.

And when you do get them? You need to stretch your calf muscles immediately. You can do this by straightening your leg and flexing your toes back toward your shins. It’s a pain but this always helped me.

Restless Leg Syndrome

I have restless leg syndrome even when I’m not pregnant – so let’s just say it gets even worse during pregnancy! (As I was writing this, I realized that I was shaking my leg like crazy!)

It can definitely interrupt your sleep when you feel you can’t stop moving your legs and get settled. It also presents with a burning sensation and tingling. It’s often hard to find relief as well, which can make it even harder to sleep if you are constantly changing positions and moving around to stop the sensation.

There’s an old wive’s tale that says putting a bar of Ivory soap under your pillow can help with RLS – but I have yet to try this. I know people that swear by this.

Unfortunately, there aren’t really any medications that are suitable for pregnancy. I’ve read that antihistamines and caffeine can make it worse – so avoid those if you can.

It’s often worse when you are sedentary for a long period of time – avoid laying in bed to read or watch TV, and make sure you get enough exercise during the day. Stretching (prenatal yoga is great), as well as warm baths, can be helpful as well!

Nasal Congestion

It is very common for women to experience stuffy noses and congestion during pregnancy. I always felt like my ears were plugged up, and it drove me absolutely insane. It typically gets worse the longer you are pregnant.

This condition (known as Rhinitis during pregnancy) occurs because of the increase in estrogen, which effects mucus production, as well as the increase in blood supply. Here are a few ways to help with it so you can sleep  better at night:

How to Sleep During Pregnancy

While the tips above will help you sleep better, it is important to remember that – unless instructed otherwise – you really should be sleeping on your side while pregnant.

Originally posted February 2017. Updated July 2018.

Common Pregnancy Sleep Issues (And How To Them) / pregnancy / pregnancy problems / sleep during pregnancy / first trimester / second trimester / third trimester / pregnancy symptoms

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