Insomnia during early pregnancy: The 5 best natural remedies
According to a 2018 study of 486 pregnancies, 44.2 percent involved insomnia during the first trimester. The study concludes that insomnia is more likely to occur in those who have sleep problems before they become pregnant. However, anyone can experience sleep disturbances in pregnancy.
Insomnia tends to get worse as pregnancy progresses but can occur at any stage. In the first trimester, hormonal shifts are the most likely cause.
What causes insomnia in early pregnancy?
Levels of the hormone progesterone are high during the first trimester, and this can cause sleepiness and napping during the day.
Aside from hormonal changes, factors that may make insomnia worse include:
- spicy foods, which may cause digestion issues, especially if eaten near bedtime
- anxiety or depression
- physical discomfort
- frequent bathroom trips
- restless leg syndrome (RLS)
Other less obvious causes include difficulty breathing, with this difficulty sometimes affecting a person’s breathing at night when they are pregnant. This can cause snoring and brief pauses in breathing called apnea.
Breathing problems during sleep at the end of the second and during the third trimester are more common.
Simple home remedies
According to early studies, use of sleeping pills during pregnancy requires caution. This restriction may feel frustrating, but some natural remedies can safely treat insomnia:
Relaxation exercises can help calm an anxious mind.
People can try progressive relaxation, which involves slowly and steadily relaxing each muscle in the body one at a time, beginning with the toes. Meditation may also help.
A 2015 study in the journal Obstetric Medicine concludes that meditation may help insomnia in pregnancy. The study says that meditation is a nonpharmacological way of managing insomnia and that prenatal hatha yoga may help.
More studies are needed to make this a definite recommendation, but people may find it useful to try yoga.
4. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT
A model of CBT therapy known as CBT for insomnia can help people manage their thoughts and feelings about sleep and sleeping while changing their behavior.
CBT for insomnia can treat people with severe sleep deprivation get better sleep. It can help a person:
- understand their insomnia
- talk through emotions that play a role in insomnia
- make healthful changes that reduce insomnia
CBT may be particularly helpful for those facing anxiety or depression.
5. Physical activity
The physical demands of pregnancy alongside steady weight gain can make it difficult to keep active.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there are many benefits to exercise during pregnancy. These include:
- lower risk of gestational diabetes
- less back pain
- improved heart health
Gentle exercise can also help with insomnia. Any exercise during pregnancy should come with the recommendation of a doctor.
A 2016 study from the Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences suggests around 30 minutes a day at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Some conditions may make it unsafe to exercise during pregnancy, so people should consult a doctor before starting any new workout routine.
Insomnia during the early and late stages of pregnancy is common and does not usually mean anything is wrong.
The 2018 study of 486 pregnancies found that insomnia occurs after pregnancy in 33.2 percent of cases. Living with a newborn may, in part, account for many of the sleep challenges people face after a baby is born.
With proper treatment and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and therapy, a person may be able to overcome insomnia during pregnancy. A doctor may also be able to help identify causes and help people find solutions.
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