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How to Cure Insomnia During Pregnancy

Updated on September 15, 2014

Do you need help with pregnancy and insomnia?

Are you a pregnant insomniac, too? If any of this sounds familiar, you are:

It's 3am, and you're wide awake. You're tired, but you're not sleepy, and that makes all the difference.

You have a million things to do in the morning to prepare for your child's arrival, and you just. Can't. Sleep.

You're trying to do everything you can to create a healthy baby, and surely your constant stress over your insomnia isn't helping your child, which just worries you more, and makes it even more difficult for you to sleep.

Your hormones are running in overdrive, leaving you tired throughout the day, but wide awake at night.

But I've got good news.

You're not alone. Over 70% pregnant women struggle with insomnia for the first time in their lives when they get with child, and they feel like a failure, or overwhelmed, or just plain depressed.

And you know what's even better news? There is help for your insomnia during pregnancy. Read on.

5 Things NOT to do if you have insomnia while pregnant

Pregnancy plus insomnia? Not fun.

Between the stresses of normal life, plus preparing for a new human being to enter your family's life in a few months, it's really not surprising that you're having trouble sleeping. And everyone knows that exhausted people can make some poor decisions, some I'm here to help you avoid the worst of them.

  1. Absolutely no sleeping pills. Sorry, you can't take any sleep aids, including prescription, herbal, or over-the-counter relaxants. This restriction is part of the reason so many pregnant women struggle to overcome insomnia. All sleeping pills carry a risk of harm to your unborn child, so don't, under any circumstance, take any.
  2. Don't exercise or eat right before bedtime. Working out right before bed will energize you, which is great - and make it impossible to sleep for a few hours (which isn't so great). Likewise, eating right before you try to sleep will keep your body awake and busy trying to digest the food - plus you're more likely to get heartburn if you lie down right away, which can keep you awake all on its own.
  3. Stop doing stressful things on the bed. You might not consciously make the connection, but your subconscious may be associating the bed with needing to stay awake, if you normally pay the bills, study, or do work on your bed. Move these activities to a desk and keep only relaxing activities in the bedroom.
  4. Don't lie awake for hours in bed This will only prolong the problem and worsen your insomnia. Give yourself 30 minutes to fall asleep. If you're still awake after this time is up, get up and read or watch TV until you're tired again. Repeat until you fall asleep.
  5. Stop worrying so much! This is the most important point of all, but also the most difficult to do. If there are problems that are bothering you, face them head on and conquer them, so you don't have to waste energy thinking about them at night. You are only human, and nothing will ever be perfect. Allow yourself to make mistakes and relax. Your body and your unborn child will thank you.

Where is this tiredness coming from?

And more importantly, how do I fight it?

Sure, experienced mothers told you that you would be tired all the time, but they probably forgot to mention you might suffer from insomnia during your pregnancy.

Those two side effects seem like they would cancel each other out, right? But they don't. A lot of the problem comes from the quality of sleep you are actually receiving. To put it lightly, it probably sucks.

You're probably like most expectant moms, with dozens of things to do and only 24 hours in a day. Your mind is racing ahead constantly, anticipating problems and preparing for the future. So when you do sleep, it's often more like collapsing, during the day, on whichever soft surface is the closest.

  • In your first trimester, progesterone is flooding your body and making you feel tired all the time, but not necessarily sleepy. The first time you take a nap during the day, it's probably a long one, and you can't get to sleep at night. Thus, a vicious cycle is born.
  • As your pregnancy continues, you suddenly have a big baby pressing on your bladder, making sleep positions uncomfortable, and making it difficult to breathe. Suddenly, your slight insomnia problem is now a looming disorder where you only get a couple hours sleep of night, you are unhappy, and all you can think about is getting this child out of your body.

Many expectant mothers have told me that just accepting that changes in their hormone levels and within their body are making them feel different than they're used to has helped them immensely. Lower your expectations you enforce upon yourself, even if it's just for the length of the pregnancy. You may need more bed rest than you're used to, or less walking.

Myth: you need to take certain supplements or pills to cure pregnancy insomnia

There is not a pill in the world you can take that will cure your insomnia without risking your baby's health or life.

Instead, by learning the reasons for your insomnia during pregnancy, we can take steps to treat their causes, and not just blindly tackle the symptoms.

I want you to accept that your pregnancy is a 100% unique experience. Don't blame yourself or stress if your pregnancy seems more problem-filled than your friends'. Comparisons will just make you worry more, and make your insomnia worse.

5 Natural ways to cure insomnia while pregnant

Safe for you, safe for baby

Insomnia during pregnancy is very common, as you've got hormones flooding your body and disrupting your sleep cycle, stress keeping you awake at night, and all the normal discomforts of pregnancy preventing you from getting a good night's sleep.

Finding out the root cause of your sleeping difficulties will provide you the most help with curing your pregnancy-related insomnia. Are you awake because you are uncomfortable? Unhappy? Not tired? There is a cure for every problem, but you need to do some soul-searching first.

Here are some general tips to help expectant mothers get the shut-eye they so desperately need.

  1. Use a body pillow. Full-length, supportive pillows will cradle your aching body and give you support no matter what strange sleeping position you curl up into. Remember that you need to be sleeping on your side past the first trimester, as this is the safest position for your baby.
  2. Go to bed the minute you feel tired. It may be hours earlier than you're used to retiring, but your body knows what it needs, and creating a baby is an energy-intensive process. If you delay too long, the feeling of tiredness will pass, and you won't be able to fall asleep for hours.
  3. Stop drinking after 5pm. Try to get your recommended amount of daily fluids in before the early evening, so that you aren't constantly waking up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom.
  4. Make it cooler. You probably feel hot all the time anyway, but you may be unable to sleep or constantly waking up because your body heats up even more at night. Turn the air conditioner up a little colder than usual before you fall asleep, so you don't wake up half an hour later hot and sticky.
  5. Do something relaxing right before bed. Create and look forward to a nighttime ritual that gets you sleepy and relaxed, like drinking hot tea or reading a good book. Patterns will help your body get used to fall asleep when commanded, and relaxing will get some of your worries off your mind.

No one ever said pregnancy was easy, but it doesn't have to be this hard, either. I hope some of these pregnant insomniac tips helped you.

Thoughts? Opinions? - Let me know what you think about my insomnia while pregnant tips

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    • insomnie profile image

      Insomnie 20 months ago from Paris

      useful, thank you

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I am 36 weeks and my insomnia is terrible! It makes me a total grump during the day too. I get so mad that I cannot sleep. Last night I slept a total of 3 hours and that wasn't a very deep sleep. I take Tylenol pm and it seems to make me tired but only sleep for about an hour then wide awake. I can't wait for my baby girl to get here!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This article just pisses me off. ABSOLUTELY NO SLEEPING PILLS. Yeah, FORGET THAT. I consume zero sugar or caffeine. I shower before bed. It's 67 degrees in my house. No electronics ever during any part of the day. I have a body pillow. I have everything I need. I am now 27 weeks pregnant. I don't even have a flipping bassinet or anything yet, I haven't done a single thing to my house. It's stupid. Absolutely stupid. Right now I have 3 hours of sleep for 48 hours. YEP. And because I don't sleep I don't eat right either because I have severe digestion problems because no sleep. "Oh well you need to just lay in your bed for longer"...Guess what literally lay there for 15 hours a day and cannot fall asleep. I lay there all day when I'm not working. My phone is always muted too. This is stupid and not funny and I'm just pissed.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      One of the first clues than told me I was pregnant again, other than nausea, was sudden insomnia. This is what I do now, I hope someone else will benefit from it:

      When I was pregnant with my first child, I was interested in natural birth and hypnobirthing, so I downloaded a $10 album on iTunes thinking it was worth a shot.

      It turns out hypnobirthing was not for me since I never got past the first 10 minutes of the album without falling asleep listening to the soothing female narrator. I was worth every penny though, since it cured my insomnia.

    • profile image

      ethanchong123 4 years ago

      Hi, thanks for the great article.More insomnia cure tips at SleepWellSecrets.com though.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Like most everyone else, I'm only sleeping 4-5 hours per night, and that's with Unisom. I am 31 weeks pregnant, on pregnancy number 3 and can honestly say I slept great with my other 2. This article is a clinical list of do's and dont's that DON'T work. Wish there were more comments about what DOES work :(

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i'm 36 weeks and going through this rough period of my preganacy. I also have pregnancy carpal tunnel which makes both my hands burn and tingly. I have tried everything except sleeping pills. Not planning on taking anything for my insomnia. My doctor told me to read a boring book-- that does not work.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Meredith

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Try drinking warm milk at bedtime. I am 24 weeks pregnant and was not sleeping deeply, then waking up at 3 or 4 am and staying awake. The past two nights, I've had warm milk just before bedtime. I slept all through the night both nights. I fill a mug with milk and put it in the microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds. Works like a charm. I think it's probably good for the baby, too.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I just purchased the Insomnia Relief Alice recommended. I started suffering from insomina about a 1 1/2 years after trying to conceive without success and 3 miscarriages. We were going to adopt but I thought I could try a donor egg and it worked. I should have peace by now but I still experience nighttime insomnia /anxiety... I have good nights but the nights that I don't sleep my anxiety starts growing to the point that I tell myself I won't be able to sleep the entire night and of course I don't sleep at all...... I end up so frustrated and crying not finding peace to try to sleep. My husband is always by my side helping me with my crying and frustration of being awake...I have to be alert and attend my family and daughter and now I am 25 weeks pregnant. Being exhausted doesn't help my mind. I really hope this helps.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I have the same problem. This article wasn't helpful at all. I've started taking magnesium supplements b/c I've been learning that most people are deficient and it is a super important mineral and it often helps people sleep better. But so far there has been no change.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Anyone have tips for falling back asleep once you wake up in the middle of the night? I have no trouble falling asleep. I'm always exhausted in the evening and would go to bed even earlier if it weren't for having to take care of my toddler and then making & eating dinner with my husband after my son goes to sleep. But if I'm lucky I can get to bed by 9pm. The problem is I wake up at 1 or 2 and can't fall back asleep all night long! If I do go back to sleep it's hours later. Most nights I can't manage more than 6 hours of sleep, which is not enough for me.

      These tips seem to be more about going to sleep at night and not about that problem of getting back to sleep once awoken.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Well I have suffered from insomnia for 25 years or so. I have had it since I was a kid. I use to just say I am a night owl. Which I am, but unless I am exhausted I cannot go to sleep, will toss and turn for hours. My mind just won't shut down. I've started to listen to Insomnia Relief from BrainSync Technology few months ago and I can tell you that since the third day the changes were big. Give it a try. This helped me a lot. Now I have an 8 hour average sleeping time and it is amazing that I also remember my dreams :)))

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I agree! My doctor okayed me to take tylenol pm and I only take a half a pill, and sleep just fine. This article was totally bull. It is NOT helpful, and full of useless "facts"

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks for the suggestions! My doctor agreed with the calcium suggestion and also recommended that I keep a snack (a glass of milk or some cheese seems to be working) next to my bed for when I wake up.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Agreed! I can see how drinking non-caffeinated tea before bed may help some people, but for those of us dealing with 2 to 3 days of not sleeping, often none of these suggestions work. Also, there are safe over-the-counter and prescription medications that may help. Of course, discuss any medication with your doctor to weigh the risks/benefits.

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      WWurpleW 4 years ago

      Being pregnant is hard enough without having to deal with not being able to sleep! Hope your tips help all those who are pregnant.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      This article is terrible and full of misinformation. Sleeping pills are fine to take if your doctor okays them - unisom is a good example.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you, good article. I have some unmentioned safe tips: I have learned, as I have trouble sleeping at times. Of course check with your dr., but I think it is safe taking extra calcium supplement with your prenatal vitamins, take this at night, I have read from a nutritionist, Adele Davis, calcium helps relax you or something to that effect for sleep (and it helps with pain...labor). Also, a little bit of Tart Cherry juice (no sugar) at night can help with inflammation and sleep insomnia (was told this was on Dr. Oz). While I would not take the supplement inositol, it helps sleep and I have read it is naturally found in molasses. Molasses is very healthy (natural iron etc) so I add a tablespoon or 2 daily into my diet and omega fatty acids are good too for overall health I like ground flax seeds I add to my cereal etc. If I am hungry I eat something light like cereal, but like what is mentioned here, good point don't eat (too much) right before bed because of slower digestion, but a little bit can curb a hungry tummy.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Super-unhelpful. I followed all this advice with my last pregnancy, and I still couldn't sleep. I was awake for two to three days straight and then be able to sleep for a night or two. Worst few months of my life!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank u 4 the advices and tips. I just want to sleep.il follow evrythng.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank YOu Lord! I am not alone! I am going crazy! I thought it was just me! It never happened to me in my first pregnancy... but this lil man does not want me to sleep lol. I am glad to know I am not alone

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I'm 26 weeks pregnant with my first child && I can honestly say their advice blows :/ Benadryl has become my best friend if it wasn't for me taking it when I absolutely need it, I would be one ticked of momma!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Agree! These tips are not helpful at all! Stopping drinking at 5 would work if I went to bed at 6!!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Me too!!! I am glad I am not the only one...This is my second pregnancy and I did not experience this the first time! I am lucky if I sleep 3 hours a night :(

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Uh.....motherf&*($#g benadryl. Been used and examined in pregnant women for over 50 years...as safe as it gets. Don't drink anything after 5pm?--yeah--only if I want to be woken up regularly by stabbing pain charlie horses. Body pillow? That helps, but it hardly solves the problem. You can't take benadryl every night....space it out so that you can get at least 6 hours of sleep one night per week. (tonight is obviously not my benadryl night) But you know? Without it, I would never sleep, and then I would lose my job. And that would seriously hurt my baby.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      It's 5 in the moring and i've been up for hours, I've tried all that stuff and it's not working for me.. I finally broke down crying the other day after only 3 hours of sleep. This is my second pregnancy and I did NOT have this with my first. I'm sooo tired of being tired!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      22 weeks finding it hard to sleep. Four hours left till I go to work :/ trying this out from timmorrow! Love my pregnancy just my sleep x

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Thanks for this. I was actually really worried that something was wrong because i always heard id be tired and im sleeping roughly four hours per night. Glad to know im not alone. Ill try these tips!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This was more useful than most information i found on pregnant insomnia. I osn't even know I am pregnant yet, but suspect it because of the insomnia (like I had last time i was pregnant).

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This was more useful than most information i found on pregnant insomnia. I osn't even know I am pregnant yet, but suspect it because of the insomnia (like I had last time i was pregnant).

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      very useful