Insomnia during late pregnancy: what to do if there is poor sleep in the third trimester?

Two-thirds of the joyful and anxious expectation is over. A calm second trimester, when hormonal storms have already subsided, and a relatively small stomach does not cause discomfort, smoothly passes into a difficult last one. Insomnia during pregnancy in the third trimester is due to other reasons than its predecessor in the first, but it causes no less discomfort. Relentless statistics promise problems with a night’s rest in the last stages of 97 percent of women.

A sleep disorder from thirty weeks onwards is made up of many physiological and psycho-emotional factors and only progresses with an increase in the period. Therefore, it is worth starting to fight insomnia at its first manifestations.


Insomnia in late pregnant women is one of the many sleep disorders that is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • inability to fall asleep for half an hour or more;
  • intermittent or superficial sleep, not conducive to rest and relaxation;
  • short-term nap with awakening in the middle of the night, when it is no longer possible to fall asleep again.

Usually, in the last months of pregnancy, a woman is tormented by the whole set of symptoms, so the fight against them should also be comprehensive.


Types of insomnia are classified according to the following criteria.

Time of onset of symptoms:

  • Starting insomnia. It manifests itself in the form of too long a process of falling asleep. The provoking factors are psycho-emotional overexcitation, physical discomfort, the inability to find a comfortable position, pain, evening activity of the baby.
  • Middle view. It is characterized by repeated interruptions of sleep throughout the night. Provoked by physical discomfort, requiring frequent changes in posture, numb hands or cramps in the legs, increased urge to urinate, rolling heartburn. The situation is aggravated by bad dreams and nightmares caused by the fear of complications and the upcoming birth.
  • Final variety. Early morning, waking up too early without a feeling of cheerfulness. Just like the previous options, it is caused by a complex of physiological and somatic reactions.

Types of insomnia by duration and causes:

  • One-time or situational. Isolated cases of insomnia, provoked by certain and specific causes, emotional experiences and real problems. As a rule, the quality of sleep normalizes after the elimination of provocative situations and does not require additional intervention.
  • Short term. The duration of this type of insomnia is 7-10 days. If after this period the situation does not change, this is an occasion for a serious analysis of what is happening and, possibly, seeking help. It is usually caused by protracted psycho-emotional problems or physical ailments extended over time. For example, nocturnal attacks of heartburn, which in recent weeks have intensified on their own, will not disappear without adjusting the diet.
  • Chronic form of sleep disturbance. A debilitating condition that lasts for months, regardless of the gestational age. It can be a sign of some diseases, often occurs in a woman’s life even before she manages to get pregnant.

Chronic insomnia is a definite reason for excitement, since the body, which is under severe stress, is unable to recover, which means it is working for wear and tear. Such a rhythm can adversely affect the health and development of an unborn child experiencing regular oxygen starvation, and therefore requires mandatory adjustment.

Causes of third trimester insomnia

The last trimester of pregnancy, starting from the seventh month, is considered a physically difficult period, which is why the sick leave for pregnancy and childbirth is provided from the 31st week.

Why does insomnia (insomnia) occur during the third trimester? As a rule, it is based on a complex of physical and emotional reasons, plus the burden of waiting that grows every day.

Thus, psycho-emotional factors include:

  • Chronic fatigue, feeling of heaviness and helplessness.
  • Fear of childbirth, before which there are only a few weeks, and then days.
  • Possible negative memories of previous births, if they were not easy.
  • Increasing expectation, tracking the signals of prenatal preparation of the body.
  • Anxiety about the condition of the baby.

Physiological causes of insomnia:

  • Hormonal changes before childbirth – a decrease in progesterone levels, an increase in estrogen.
  • Difficulties with choosing the optimal position for sleeping. A rapidly growing belly leaves few options. A woman is forced to sleep on her side, which, without habit, can be uncomfortable.
  • Frequent (5-8 times a night) trips to the toilet, which is explained by the pressure of the grown uterus on the bladder.
  • The uterus compresses the diaphragm, causing heartburn and breathing difficulties (shortness of breath, lack of oxygen).
  • The increased load on the spine causes pain in the lumbar and sacral regions, often after a busy day, the bones of the small pelvis “ache”.
  • Manifestations of osteochondrosis of the shoulder girdle, enhanced by edema, provoke painful numbness of the hands, which requires frequent changes in position.
  • In the second half of pregnancy, from about the fifth month, varicose veins appear or worsen, a calcium-magnesium deficiency appears, which causes night cramps in the legs.
  • In the ninth month (at 36-39 weeks), most women feel regular training contractions, including at night.
  • Another cause of sleep disorders is the itching of the stretching skin of the abdomen, causing an irresistible desire to itch.

The activity of the baby, the regimen of which often does not coincide with the mother’s, can disturb the night’s peace. Until about the 32nd week, there is enough room for smooth movement, but over time and the growth of the child, his movements turn into tangible jolts, often painful.

Even one of the listed reasons may be enough for the appearance of insomnia , but more often at night a pregnant woman is tormented by a combination of several factors, which has a bad effect on her well-being and mood.

Ways to normalize sleep

The physiological occurrence of debilitating insomnia at the end of pregnancy does not mean that it is impossible to get rid of it or that it does not need to be fought. For starters, you need to calm down. Excessive excitement will only harm both mother and baby. We choose the appropriate methods and begin to act.

What a pregnant woman needs to do to help herself:

  • Normalize the microclimate in the room, select the optimal temperature (16-22 ° C) and humidity (not lower than 40%), if necessary, use a humidifier or wet towels.
  • Try to ensure a constant supply of fresh air, as most pregnant women have difficulty breathing, and then they lack oxygen.

Note! During pregnancy, it is recommended to remove indoor plants from the bedroom that absorb oxygen at night, and the so-called dust collectors – carpets, soft toys, blankets, canopies, etc.

  • Choose an orthopedic mattress, quality bedding, extra pillows. Linen and sleepwear should be made of cozy light natural materials (linen, cotton), which, together with the use of special products, will reduce the discomfort of itchy skin.
  • Use pillows to help you get in a comfortable position. For example, a cushion under your feet will reduce the likelihood of night cramps, and a raised headboard will reduce the symptoms of heartburn and bring relief to breathing.
  • Take a warm (not hot!) bath with sea salt or shower. In combination with a massage of problem areas (feet, lumbar and cervical back), they will give an excellent relaxing effect.

Prevention of insomnia

To alleviate the general physical condition, including the manifestation of symptoms of insomnia , a revision of the daily routine, nutrition, and load distribution will help. For this you need:

  • Set a comfortable mode. Going to bed and getting up at the same time, time-consuming and important things to plan for the first half of the day.
  • Avoid daytime sleep.
  • Get rid of bad habits and dietary errors, for example, the last meal should be light and a few hours before bedtime.
  • Provide moderate exercise and an evening walk for at least 30 minutes.

Such simple changes make life in the last weeks of pregnancy much easier and more enjoyable.

Insomnia remedies for pregnant women

Drugs used to treat insomnia during pregnancy are prohibited, as they can seriously harm the health of the unborn baby.

Important! Sedatives during pregnancy are used exclusively in special, pathological cases. The decision to take such funds is made only together with the doctor, and better – after consultation with doctors of several specializations.

In addition, in the later stages of gestation, such funds are usually useless. For example, it is difficult to fall asleep, no matter how much you take sleeping pills, if you “twist” your legs, “burst” your bladder, or “burn” your esophagus.

As a sedative component of an integrated approach to the fight against insomnia, sparing folk remedies can be used. Decoctions of herbs and their various combinations help to normalize blood pressure, reduce brain activity and anxiety levels, which means putting the body into a “rest mode” and restoring lost sleep.

In the fight against late insomnia, herbs that have been tested by many generations of pregnant women help well: mint, lemon balm, motherwort, hawthorn, valerian, chamomile, St. John’s wort.

You can resort to a popular and effective way to help the body relax after a long busy day – drink a glass of warm milk in bed with 1 teaspoon of honey diluted in it.

Important! During pregnancy, you should be wary of any, even repeatedly proven herbal remedies. Uncontrolled use can provoke unexpected allergic reactions.

In the last trimester of pregnancy, symptomatic treatment of the causes of sleep disturbance is sometimes required. Together with the doctor are selected:

  • drugs that normalize blood pressure and relieve headaches;
  • a diet that excludes foods that cause heartburn;
  • based on the analysis – preparations of magnesium and calcium;
  • massage course.

Note! Insomnia before childbirth, especially at the fortieth week, is a physiological phenomenon, and it will not be possible to completely cope with it. The most that can be done is to accept this fact, minimize unpleasant symptoms, try to avoid excitement, provocative situations, and control the well-being of mother and child.

In such a difficult period, the body of the expectant mother will definitely respond to an attentive and caring attitude towards herself with a strong, refreshing and restoring sleep.

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