- 1 Early Pregnancy Insomnia – You Are Not Alone
- 1.1 What is Insomnia?
- 1.2 Causes Of Insomnia During Pregnancy
- 1.3 Suggestions For Better Sleep
- 1.4 Share Your Thoughts, Experiences and Recommendations
Early Pregnancy Insomnia – You Are Not Alone
OK so I am feeling absolutely exhausted lately and I know it is not just due to the mere fact that I am almost 11 weeks pregnant. It would only be logical that someone be tired when they are wide awake at 5 am each morning without just cause and regardless of what time they go to bed. I seriously have tried different strategies and nothing seems to be working. I have tried to go to bed much earlier, but then I am up at 2 am counting sheep, and I have tried going to bed much later, even midnight, and I am still up at 5 am. In fact, it seems that I have an imaginary alarm set for exactly “5 hours of sleep”. I am extremely blessed that I am working from home right now due to the Covid 19 pandemic, because I feel like if I had to commute to and from work, I would fall asleep behind the wheel. So what causes early pregnancy insomnia? And is there a way to control it?
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia interrupts both your quality of sleep and duration of sleep, by either preventing you from falling asleep, staying asleep or both. This is not my first rodeo with insomnia and I am being reminded how much I really hated it and how much it affected my mood and productivity. I discussed my personal experience with insomnia, when I worked shift work for many years, and also shared my secret vitamin supplement, that helped me reset my circadian rhythm that allowed me to sleep uninterrupted throughout the whole night.
But this type of insomnia is different of course. Being pregnant causes a whole wack of changes to your body at a hormonal level, physical level and emotional level.
Causes Of Insomnia During Pregnancy
The obvious stage of pregnancy when you expect insomnia to take place is during your last trimester, because seriously, how are you supposed to get comfortable when you have such a big belly and you have never been used to sleeping on your back and/or on your side? Insomnia during your third trimester of pregnancy, can also be due to your own mental or emotional state. And do not blame yourself for this. It is only normal to be nervous and excited about labor, becoming a mom for the first time, or being stressed on how you will juggle having more than one child.
But here we will discuss insomnia during your first trimester, which is rarely discussed as a symptom of early pregnancy.
We can ALWAYS blame symptoms on our hormones. And in this case, it definitely would apply as well.
High levels of progesterone during the first trimester, can be responsible for your insomnia during at the beginning of pregnancy.
A very recent study, in 2018, over 400 pregnant women’s sleep pattern during pregnancy was monitored and assessed. Just to give you an idea, the percentage of women who experience insomnia was:
- 44.2% in 1st trimester;
- 46.3% in 2nd trimester;
- 63.7% in 3rd trimester.
This shows that insomnia, is almost at 50% over half of the pregnancy (6 months), and then increases by 20% during the last trimester, which is approximately 2 out of 3 women The study also showed that women who had issues sleeping pre-pregnancy, had a higher risk of insomnia during pregnancy.
I think this finding is absolutely logical and expected because it would make sense that the emotional and hormonal changes that come with pregnancy would most likely just amplify the preexisting sleep issue.
- Frequent trips to the bathroom
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Back pain
- Stress, Worry & Anxiety
- Vivid Dreams
- Tender or painful breasts
- Abdominal bloating or discomfort
- Leg cramps
- Shortness of breath
Suggestions For Better Sleep
The good news is that even though you may be suffering of fatigue this will not hurt or affect your baby.
We should still try to improve our sleep, because it will just make pregnancy more enjoyable and help with stress, emotion and getting through your daily routine.
I will give you some suggestions here, but I will be honest, it may be easier said then done. I have tried all of these and I am still having a hard time sleeping so although they are very useful recommendations, they may not work for everyone. I do really want to emphasize something – if all recommendations and strategies to get a better sleep do not work for you, do not take any natural supplements no matter how safe you think they may be, without speaking to your doctor.
1. Getting BACK To Sleep
I know I fall in this category – I have absolutely no issues falling asleep but staying asleep long enough is where the challenge lies. As I mentioned earlier, I am up about 5 hours after having fallen asleep.
What is the best solution? I actually learned this from my Naturalistic doctor back in the day, when I was trying to deal with my sleep issues. The worst thing to do, is stay in your bed and think about falling asleep or thinking about all your worries and/or tasks for that day.
You have 2 options:
- Get out of bed and do something until you fall asleep.
IMPORTANT: Do not get on your cell phone!! This provide too much stimulation you will never fall back asleep even though you start feeling the fatigue. Blue light from the TV, your mobile phone, or tablet can have an impact on your body’s circadian rhythm.
I have not figured out what to do in the middle of the night so I have never tried this technique of doing something. But if you like knitting, or have some ironing to do, or maybe you need a snack because hunger is keeping you up. Whatever it is, make sure it is something that requires motor skills and very little brain function!
- Change your sleeping spot – this works for me quite well. Staying in your bed, where you have officially associated this “location” as the place where you can never fall back asleep, plays an unconscious role with your insomnia.
I can attest this strategy as being very effective. I am always able to fall back asleep, after having moved over to the couch. It is like a change of “scenery”, changes your mindset where you can remove the psychological impact of not being able to fall asleep causes, and also seems to reset your physical comfort. The tossing and turning that you were experiencing in your bed suddenly goes away and you find the perfect position.
2. Diet and Exercise
Exercise and diet has been long known to play a huge role in your health, which includes sleep.
During the 1st trimester, you may not feel very well with the nausea and add your fatigue, working out may be the last thing you want to do.
If it means taking a very long walk, 1 or 2 times a day, this can help because it will help clear your mind and tire your out physically, so falling asleep will be easier.
Also, what you eat will also
3. Timing Your Naps Right
Napping is a great idea, especially when you did not sleep well.
The temptation to sleep in the afternoon can be very strong and once sleeping, you may oversleep. So if you nap, make sure it is not too late in the day and set an alarm to not over sleep.
A 1 hours nap is typically enough to give yo a great boost of energy, without effecting your ability to sleep at night.
4. Develop A Routine
It is easy to start developing new habits when you find out you are pregnant. I know I have, just trying to play around with my sleep schedule, spending time reading about pregnancy, doing research on baby items I will need, making important financial decisions, eating at different times and eating different foods to accommodate nausea and more.
Some tips are:
- Going to bed at the same time each night;
- Not eating any sugar too late;
- Doing a relaxing activity before bed like reading a book, meditating and/or a light yoga stretch;
- Get the father-to-be to give you a nice body or foot massage before bed;
- Take a mild hot bath
**IMPORTANT – hot baths can be dangerous for the baby. If you enjoy taking baths to relax, speak to your doctor about the safest way to do so.
5. Make Changes To Your Environment
Like most of these recommendations, this one can be applied to any insomnia circumstance, not just for pregnancy.
Things you can change in your environment, to help with your sleep are:
- Blackout blinds;
- A white background noise;
- Extra pillows;
- Adjust temperature in the room or have extra blankets as body temperature can fluctuate more often with the hormones.
I am really looking forward to sleeping better and at this point, the only thing that helps me get that extra hour or so of sleep is changing my location once I wake up. I know for myself, once I wake up in the middle of the night, it is my mind, or the thoughts running through my head that keep me awake. I need to work on ways to turn that off. Another thing I highly suggest is if you can not fall asleep, it is sometimes important to remember that staying in bed, and just resting, can be very effective as well and is known as Quiet Wakefulness. Of course, this is not equivalent to sleeping, but it is definitely a better alternative than just getting out of bed right away. Quiet wakefulness, or resting with your eyes closed can calm your mind, give at least some of your neurons a break because you are not moving and not using your mind as much while in bed. Resting can also allow your muscles and organs relax, reduce stress, improve your mood, and increase alertness, mental clarity, creativity, and motivation. All of these changes can in turn, enhance your productivity.
As for my current situation, I am finishing this article at 6 am, because yet again, I was up at 515 am and today, moving to the couch did not help. I will give it some more time and continue trying, but I may consider speaking to my doctor about this because I really do feel that even though it is not unhealthy for the baby, I would feel much more capable throughout this pregnancy. I am therefore being transparent and honest that all these recommendations are definitely true, but not necessarily easy yo implement. But we need to try the natural way especially when pregnant. It may take more time to see a break through so give it a few weeks before asking for medications.
I would love for you ladies to share your thought about insomnia while pregnant and how you dealt with this or could not deal with this.