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Pregnancy sleep and dreams

Women who are pregnant often experience sleepless nights and daytime fatigue in their first and third trimesters. During the first 12 weeks or so in the first trimester, frequent trips to the toilet and morning sickness may disrupt sleep.

Later in pregnancy, vivid dreams and physical discomfort may prevent deep sleep. After delivery, the new baby's care or a mother's postnatal depression may interrupt sleep.

Causes of pregnancy sleep problems

Sleep problems in pregnancy are usually due to hormonal changes and physical discomforts. These factors can affect a pregnant woman’s quality of sleep. You may be uncomfortable lying down, but just as you get comfortable, it is time for a trip to the toilet.

Each trimester of pregnancy brings its own unique sleep problems. Here are some of them:

Sleep in the first trimester of pregnancy

Below are the sleep problems that often occur in the first trimester of pregnancy:

  • Frequent waking due to an increased need to go to the toilet.
  • Disruptions in sleep as a result of physical and emotional stress associated with pregnancy.
  • Increased daytime sleepiness.

Sleep in the second trimester of pregnancy

Sleep during the second trimester of pregnancy improves for many women since night-time urination becomes less of an issue as the growing foetus reduces pressure on the bladder by moving above it. Still, the quality of sleep may remain poor as a result of the growing baby and emotional stress associated with pregnancy.

Sleep in the third trimester of pregnancy

You are likely to experience the most sleep problems during this trimester of pregnancy as a result of the following:

  • Discomfort due to your growing tummy.
  • Heartburn, leg cramps, and sinus congestion.
  • Frequent night-time urination returns, as the baby's position changes and puts pressure on the bladder once again.

Tips for sound sleep during pregnancy

One or more of the following tips may help you get the sleep you need during pregnancy. However, if your sleep problems are severe, talk to your doctor.

  • Extra pillows: Pillows can be used to support both the tummy and back. A pillow between the legs can help support the lower back and make sleeping on your side easier. Some specific types of pillows include the wedge-shaped pillow and the full-length body pillow.
  • Nutrition: Drinking a glass of warm milk may help bring on sleep. Foods high in carbohydrates, such as bread or crackers, can also help promote sleep.
  • Relaxation techniques: Relaxation can help calm your mind and relax your muscles. These techniques include stretching, yoga, massage and deep breathing.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise during pregnancy promotes physical and mental health. Exercise also can help you sleep more deeply. However, vigorous exercise within four hours of bedtime should be avoided.
  • Prescription and over-the-counter drugs: Ideally, all medications (including over-the-counter medications) should be avoided during pregnancy. Some drugs can harm the developing baby. However, there are some medications that are considered safe to take during pregnancy and that might help you sleep better. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any kinds of medication. This includes over-the-counter drugs, herbs, and dietary supplements.


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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 23, 2017

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