English: pregnancy at 8th month

Is pregnancy impeding your ability to get the sleep you need? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While most people think about how little sleep parents get when they have a new baby, many of us underestimate the toll pregnancy itself takes on our sleep.  The truth is pregnancy is exhausting.  Almost immediately the changes going on in your body impact everything about your sleep.  You will be feel tired when you shouldn’t, sleep at the wrong times, struggle to get comfortable, and experience almost every type of insomnia including trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, and trouble waking up.   Perhaps this part of pregnancy is nature’s way of preparing us for all the sleep struggles that come with being a parent, but the bottom line is that your regular sleep schedule is very likely something you will long for, right along with your waistline.

Here are the 7 most common reasons that pregnant women struggle with sleep.


1.     Hello Hormones

During the early days of the first trimester, your hormones are having a hay day and among other things, this means you are going to feel significantly more tired than you usually do during the course of the day.   Surging progesterone will make you feel like you need your own naptime and can make you so tired that you feel like you are coming down with something.   In addition to making you want to sleep all day, the hormonal changes you are undergoing can also make it difficult to sleep at night which only exacerbates how tired you are during the day.


2.     Nausea

Morning sickness isn’t just for mornings and it can take a real toll on your energy levels.  It can also keep you up when you should be sleeping.


3.     Bathroom Breaks

Unfortunately, as the baby grows it puts pressure on your bladder which means you will need to go to the bathroom more frequently than you normally do.  This is as true at night as it is during the day which means you may struggle to get the sleep you need because you keep having to get up to go to the bathroom.


4.     Vivid Dreams

Pregnancy can also make a big difference in your dreams.  Many women have very vivid dreams in part due to the surging hormones but also because frequent waking can disrupt the REM cycle.   If you are having very vivid dreams that feature disturbing or unsettling content, it may be difficult to get back to sleep.


5.     Trouble Getting Comfortable

Your changing body can make finding a comfortable position to sleep challenging.  Between tender breasts, a growing belly, and cramping legs, it can feel like you will never get a good night sleep again.


6.     Leg Cramps

While there is no clear cause for the leg cramps common in pregnancy, they do happen and most of them come at night.  This can be very disruptive to both the quality and quantity of your sleep.


7.     Heartburn

As if the crampy legs, sore back, and giant belly weren’t enough to make sleep difficult, you may also have trouble with heartburn.  While this can happen day or night, it is more disruptive at night since it can make it very difficult to sleep.