Insomnia during pregnancy: causes and tips

Many women suffer from fatigue while pregnant; ironically however, they also have difficulty either falling asleep at night or sleeping through the night.

Due to this, pregnant women often feel unrested and tired when they wake up the next morning. During pregnancy, womens’ bodies undergo a series of changes that can have a negative impact on their sleep.

But what are the causes of this insomnia and what is the best way to deal with them? How do you cope with sleeplessness during the period of pregnancy just before giving birth?

In this blog entry, we’ll give you a few tips on how to improve your sleep quality and sleep through the night.

The physical causes of insomnia in pregnancy

The causes of insomnia in pregnancy are wide-ranging. Pregnant women are often woken up at night by the frequent urge to urinate. Other common complaints include heartburn, cramps in the calves muscles and restless leg syndrome. Restless leg syndrome affects five to ten percent of the population and affects pregnant women particularly often.

When these women lie still at night, their legs may suddenly start to tingle, ache or twitch. The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to more severe levels of pain in the leg. The discomfort can only be relieved by getting up and walking around, which is why it jolts many women out of sleep.

The causes of restless leg syndrome are still unknown; it afflicts both men and non-pregnant women. However, it does seem that there’s a connection between iron deficiency and this type of leg pain. The lower the sufferer’s iron level, the more severe the symptoms.

Another reason for disrupted sleep during pregnancy is the growing belly. Pregnant women have trouble finding a comfortable sleeping position, and since unborn babies' sleep cycles are different from those of adults, the baby may become active at night, and move back and forth and kick in the belly more often than during the day.

The hormonal causes of insomnia during pregnancy

The changes a woman goes through during pregnancy aren’t limited to physical changes that are visible from the outside; rather, her hormones also undergo significant changes during this time. A woman’s hormone levels fluctuate quite dramatically during pregnancy; even after pregnancy, breastfeeding can lead to mood swings and sleep disturbances.

During pregnancy, the hormones oestrogen and progesterone are released at greater levels; these hormones are responsible for bringing the psyche into balance.

The body first has to get used to these hormonal changes, however, which is why pregnant women experience more restlessness at night and mood swings, particularly around the 12th week of pregnancy. That said, these changes are completely natural and almost every woman is affected by them during pregnancy.

Insomnia during the 1st trimester of pregnancy

In the first weeks of pregnancy, many women experience a pulling sensation in the abdomen as well as morning sickness. Both of these are common for pregnant women and typically last until the 12th week of pregnancy. In addition, many women experience emotional ups and downs and mood swings, circulatory problems and varying levels of fatigue.

The increased levels of progesterone in the body are the reason for this. In the first trimester, the pregnant woman’s body concentrates on ensuring the best development for the baby. As a consequence of this, many women may experience low energy levels during this stage of pregnancy. Despite these increased feelings of fatigue, many women suffer from sleep disturbances or wake up frequently at night. Although the body needs more rest, rest is not always synonymous with sleep. Sometimes it’s enough to lie down and relax for a while.

Insomnia during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy

Many pregnant women perceive the second trimester as the most pleasant part of their pregnancy. The instances of such symptoms as nausea, mood swings and severe fatigue decline during this period, and various hormones make for firmer skin and thicker hair during pregnancy.

Despite these positive changes, many women continue to suffer from sleep disturbances. In the second trimester, the deep sleep phase becomes shorter. Although pregnant women may sleep longer during this period, many still don't wake up feeling really rested the next morning. This is due to the fact that the deep sleep phase is the most restorative of the sleep cycle and is of particular importance for our ability to concentrate.

In addition, many pregnant women feel an increased urge to urinate during the second trimester. They may also experience so-called “false,” Braxton-Hicks contractions, suffer from back pain, heartburn and calf cramps from the 25th week onwards, as the growth of the baby puts strain on their back, legs and internal organs.

Insomnia during the 3rd trimester of pregnancy

As the baby continues to grow in the womb In the third trimester, many of the physical impairments women have begun to experience in the first and second trimesters become more intense. The increased space that the baby takes up means that other organs are crowded out, which leads to shortness of breath for many pregnant women. Towards the end of a woman’s pregnancy, the baby shifts deeper into the pelvic area. This provides a degree of relief for the lungs, but in turn puts more strain on the pelvis.

Women at this stage of their pregnancy experience an increased rate of sleeplessness once again. Nighttime trips to the toilet increase; likewise, many find it difficult to find the best sleeping position due to the size of the baby and their bellies.

What can be done about insomnia during pregnancy?

Even though the discomforts of pregnancy can be exhausting and are accompanied by many physical changes, women can take solace in the fact that this phase is temporary and will eventually pass.

To help you cope with insomnia, we have listed a few tips that you can use to improve the quality of your sleep.

Eat and drink right during pregnancy

Drink enough liquids throughout the day. This way, you can reduce your water intake in the evening and be less likely to be woken up at night by the need to urinate. Eat early in the evening to reduce bloating and heartburn. Avoid caffeinated drinks, especially later in the day, as they can have a negative impact on your sleep.

Exercise during pregnancy

Adequate exercise is also important during pregnancy. During the day, you can take a walk or two in the fresh air or make a trip to the swimming pool, as swimming is easy on your joints.

In the evening, you can try some relaxation exercises, such as a gentle stretching routine or autogenic training. This is a good way to slow down your body and help you fall asleep.

Find a good sleeping position

At night, many pregnant women toss and turn because they can’t find a comfortable position. The best position for pregnant women is on their side. To relieve the pressure on your hips, you can also sleep with a breastfeeding pillow or a belly belt designed for pregnant women.

Heat and warmth are quite relaxing and can put us in the right mood for sleep. For example, you can take a warm bath in the evening or a foot bath with lavender aromas.

Better sleep thanks to Zizzz products

A good night's sleep also requires the right sleeping environment. To help you achieve this, we offer several products that make it easier for you to sleep through the night.

We offer high-quality duvets that are filled with Swisswool, European goose down or European duck down. These breathable materials ensure a comfortable sleeping temperature, whether you prefer it warmer or cooler at night.

All of our products are manufactured either in Switzerland or the EU. Our pure virgin sheep’s wool comes from sheep raised in the Swiss Alps and our down duvets come from ethically correct sources and are DownPass certified.