What is the Cause of Pregnancy Insomnia and How to Cure It?

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One of the cruelest things about pregnancy is that it becomes difficult to sleep, even though you need sleep more than ever! But, what causes the insomnia you experience during pregnancy? Once you know the cause of something, it’s easier to get rid of that thing.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is defined as “habitual sleeplessness; inability to sleep.” To put it very simply, insomnia is a consistent problem of not being able to sleep well. This can mean you have a lot of trouble falling asleep or that you can’t stay asleep well at night.

Many pregnant women, about 78%, experience insomnia in their third trimester, but others get it before that time. This inability to sleep has no effect on the baby, but it can make your life as an expectant mother much harder.

What is the Cause of Pregnancy Insomnia

Why Do Pregnant Women Have Insomnia?

What is it about pregnancy that makes women who used to sleep well suddenly have insomnia? According to many different studies, there’s actually a lot of factors that play into pregnancy insomnia, and they aren’t all physical.

Here are some of the most common causes of insomnia during pregnancy:

  • Discomfort when lying down in bed
  • Vivid dreams
  • Imbalanced hormones
  • Anxiety about birth and caring for the baby
  • Back and joint pain
  • Frequent need for urination
  • Heartburn (GERD)
  • Active movements from your baby

Everything on this list can contribute to your insomnia. Sometimes you may have problems with more than one of these things. Luckily, you do have some measure of control over each of these issues and there are ways to help you beat your insomnia to get a good night’s sleep.

How Can Diet and Exercise Affect Pregnancy Insomnia?

One of the most recommended ways to help fight insomnia is to eat more nutritious foods and try to do some pregnancy-appropriate exercises. This can help to reduce or eliminate your heartburn, improve your hormone balance, and also reduce anxiety. All three of these things are strongly connected to your diet and exercise.

Heartburn is frequently caused by late eating. It’s also affected by what you eat. When you eat fast food, sugary foods, strong spices, or too much dairy you can also experience worse heartburn. Avoid these types of foods and you will most likely be able to get rid of most of your heartburn.

In What Way Does Comfort Affect Insomnia?

Discomfort is one of the leading causes of insomnia in pregnant women. Your body is changing constantly, and as your womb grows bigger it gets harder to become comfortable at night. If you used to be a back or stomach sleeper, adjusting to sleeping on your side can be very unnatural and uncomfortable. Even for side sleepers, having to get comfortable and support your baby belly can make for a highly uncomfortable situation.

A lot of pregnant women look for a best pregnancy body pillow for sleeping. Many of these are designed specifically for pregnant women, so they hit all the major needs. There is a side part to support the baby, but it’s usually long enough to be a neck pillow and a pillow between your knees as well. Some U-shaped pillows even have back support as well.

Don’t underestimate how much a little extra support can do for you! An effective body pillow can reduce your pain upon waking up, making it easier to get in and out of bed and walk around without any pains. They can also make sure you’re able to find a comfortable position while you’re lying down. U-shaped pillows help you even if you’re tossing and turning to be comfortable.

Unfortunately, the one thing the body pillow can’t help you with at all is the activity your baby does while in the womb. If your baby is normally moving and wiggling and kicking around at night, there is nothing you can really do about that. Becoming more comfortable can help only if your baby was moving because of discomfort. Sometimes if you lay too much on your belly at night you will cause the baby to get a little squished up in the womb. If you can find a more comfortable position without laying on your womb at all, the baby might calm down a bit and relax while you’re sleeping.

What Can Be Done to Help Get Rid of Insomnia?

While you can help with a lot of the above list with comfort, diet, and pregnancy-appropriate exercise, there are some things you can’t do much about.  Vivid dreams are common with many pregnant women, but there is nothing that can be done about them. This particularly strange occurrence just has to be dealt with as it happens.

As I also mentioned before, your baby’s movements are also not controllable. You may be able to prevent them moving become of discomfort in the womb, but you can’t control when they want to kick around and when they will be still at night.

Other than these two causes of insomnia, everything else is manageable if not preventable.


Sleeping while you’re pregnant is not an easy thing to do. Pregnancy insomnia strikes most women during their pregnancies, and it is not always clear what’s behind it. If you’re having issues with insomnia, check the list I wrote above and see if one of those things might be at fault for your poor sleep. With all luck, you’ll be able to combat it and get the rest you need!

Sometimes, you may not be able to get the best sleep, but if you can sleep well for even five nights each week then the pregnancy will be much more bearable to the end.

What do you think about what I’ve listed? Do you have any other cures for insomnia during pregnancy that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section!

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