sleep problems during pregnancy: what to expect & how to prepare

Oh, those aching feet! And legs! And back! If you’re pregnant, you know that despite all that talk about the “healthy glow,” there really isn’t much that’s glamorous about it. In fact, while being pregnant is certainly an exciting and joyful time, pregnancy can put a lot of stress on the body. Weight gain, fluctuating hormones and changes in mood can all take a considerable toll on everyday living, and these problems can be exacerbated significantly by another common side effect of pregnancy – lack of sleep. In fact, in a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, 78% of women said they experienced regular disturbances in their sleep while pregnant.


Understanding the changes your body is going through and knowing how to overcome some of the physical challenges of pregnancy can make coping easier. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the conditions you can expect to encounter and some tips on how to deal with them.

Heartburn and Indigestion

Also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), heartburn is a common complaint, especially as your expanding belly begins pressing upward on your stomach. Avoid spicy foods while you’re pregnant, especially in the evening, and try having several small meals throughout the day instead of a 2-3 larger meals.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Ever experienced a tingling or burning sensation in your legs when you’re trying to sleep? A sensation so irresistible, you just have to shift your legs over and over again to attempt to alleviate it? That’s RLS. And while it can affect anyone, it’s a very common side effect of pregnancy. While it isn’t entirely clear why RLS prevalence increases during pregnancy, there’s no doubt it’s a real problem. In a study of more than 600 pregnant women, 26 percent of them reported experiencing RLS during pregnancy, mostly during the third trimester. The good news: RLS symptoms tend to disappear soon after delivery. In the meantime, combat RLS by trying exercise, stretching or yoga throughout the day to help leg muscles relax. Flexing and relaxing legs while in bed may also help.

Sleep Apnea

Apnea occurs when breathing is disrupted during sleep, and women who are overweight when they become pregnant are at greater risk for developing it. Those who suffer from apnea typically stop breathing for short periods, abruptly waking by snoring deeply or even choking. If you’re experiencing apnea, tell your doctor; they may prescribe that you take part in something like these interesting CPAP sleep studies or they might prescribe a breathing device to keep you breathing normally.

Frequent Urination

Hormone shifts, muscle fatigue, and that growing belly all contribute to the need to urinate frequently during the night. Avoid drinking fluids in the hours before bed and place a night-light in the bathroom so that if you do need to get up, you won’t be awakened even more by a bright bathroom light.


Not being able to fall or stay asleep can have a significant effect on your ability to cope and can make the other side effects of pregnancy appear worse. Plus it’s just not good for the baby. There are many things one can do to ease insomnia such as sleeping tablets, St John’s Wart, or “Nutra CBD olie“, that’s a European hemp oil extract. There’s just one catch, not every medicine or herbal remedy is safe to take when pregnant, as it may affect the development of the baby. That’s why you should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist first to see if a sleep remedy is right for you. For people who are not pregnant, the use of pink tuna strain could help with fatigue and help someone get a good night’s sleep. The option of medicinal cannabis can be a very tempting one, because it does have some basis in helping to calm the nerves. So much so, that some people decide to take it through these glass pipes that can be found at somewhere similar to in order for their symptoms to be relieved. Again, talk to your doctor to establish if you can take alternative medicine for your insomnia.

More direct methods to improve sleep hygine is probably the best route for now. Establish a regular bedtime and plan a relaxing activity like reading, listening to music or meditating right before bed. Try exercising gently for 30 minutes each day and restrict daytime naps to morning or early afternoon. Make sure you have a supportive mattress and use pillows to prop up your belly, legs and back.

Pregnancy comes with a lot of unpleasant side effects, most of which – happily – disappear soon after delivery. To ensure you and your baby are as healthy as possible, tell your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing to see if there are any underlying conditions that may be causing them.

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