Common Reasons Pregnant Women Do Not Sleep

Why It's So Hard to get a Good Night's Sleep When Pregnant

Here’s the scenario: You’re pregnant, you’re tired (exhausted!!!), and you really, really want to sleep. You need to sleep. All you want to do is sleep. But you can’t. Why?

The obvious answer is that you’re pregnant. Insomnia during pregnancy isn’t unusual – it’s actually quite common, and most pregnant moms suffer some degree of sleep-deprivation, if not insomnia, during their pregnancy. Even women who never had any trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep before they were pregnant suffer some degree of restlessness during their pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, but the most common causes of sleep problems are (don’t worry, we have advice on getting sleep when pregnant in the next section!):

  • Physical Discomfort. From back aches to queasiness to indigestion to heartburn, to leg cramps to itchy skin – pregnancy isn’t known for its level of comfort!
  • The frequent – or constant – need to visit the ladies room and empty your bladder. Your kidneys are working overtime to filter the increased blood volume (when you’re pregnant your blood volume increases by 30% - 50%). The increased blood volume and filtering process result in more urine. Your baby is also growing – which increases the pressure on your bladder. Add to this an active baby, and your poor bladder just doesn’t stand a chance.
  • Increased Heart Rate. The 30% - 50% blood volume increase you have just by being pregnant means that your heart will be working harder too. While many women don’t even notice that their heart rate increased, others are much more sensitive to this pregnancy side effect, especially when trying to sleep.
  • Shortness of Breath. The same baby that’s jumping on your bladder is applying pressure to your diaphragm, too. (Some of us are lucky enough to have a head or feet – or sets of feet - lodge right up under our rib cage.) This pressure makes it hard for your lungs to fill as deeply as you’re used to. You may also be breathing faster and deeper to meet the increased oxygen needs of being pregnant. Again, some pregnant moms-to-be hardly notice the change, while others feel as if they’re constantly out of breath. It’s hard to relax if you can’t breathe.
  • Anxiety. Your mind is teeming with a host of fears and anxieties concerning your baby's health and birth Maybe you're worried about your baby's health, anxious about your abilities as a parent, or feeling nervous about the delivery itself. All of these feelings are normal, but they may keep you (and your partner) up at night.
  • You’re too Hot – or too Cold. Fluctuating hormones usually result in fluctuating body temperatures, especially “heat flashes”.
  • Dreams are More Vivid than Usual. Pregnancy brings with it vivid dreams and some pregnant moms even experience disturbing dreams or nightmares. Sometimes these dreams are so real, vivid or so distributing that it’s hard to get back to sleep.
  • Baby is Growing, or Baby is Kicking – or both. It’s hard enough to get a good night’s sleep with a growing belly, let alone a little kick boxer champ taking the nighttime hours to practice his or her technique.
  • You’re Not Use to Sleeping this Way! Women who are use to sleeping on their backs or stomachs before pregnancy may have a hard time adapting to side-sleeping, especially during the last two trimesters.
  • You Snore – loud enough to wake yourself up, let alone your partner! According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost 30 percent of pregnant women snore because one of their pregnancy symptoms is increased swelling in their nasal passages, which in turn obstructs the airways. Sleep apnea may also result from swelling of the nasal passages.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome. In RLS, you have a ‘crawling’ or moving feeling in your foot, calf, or thigh (or all three), that wakes you up. The sensations will stop when you move your leg, but begin again as soon as your foot or leg lies still again. Women who never experienced RLS before can develop it during pregnancy, and RLS will worsen for women who suffer from RLS pre-pregnancy. According to the National Sleep Foundation, as many as 15% of pregnant women develop RLS during the third trimester

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