5 natural remedies for pregnancy insomnia

5 natural remedies for pregnancy insomnia

Pregnancy insomnia refers to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both during pregnancy. Sleepless nights are common during pregnancy. It is estimated that up to 78% of pregnant women experience sleep disturbances throughout pregnancy.

There are several possible causes of insomnia during pregnancy, including hormonal changes, physical discomfort, and mood disorders. It is not recommended to use regular sleeping pills during pregnancy.

This article will provide an overview of pregnancy insomnia and describe natural remedies to address it.

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What is pregnancy insomnia?

Pregnancy insomnia is a common condition involving difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both during pregnancy. Most people experience trouble sleeping at some point during their pregnancy.

A study found that early intervention is important because insomnia can increase the risk of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It is estimated that women who sleep less than six hours a night during pregnancy are more likely to have long labours. They are also 4.5 times more likely to need a C-section (C-section), a surgery to deliver the baby through incisions made in the abdomen and uterus.

Lack of sleep during pregnancy can also increase the risk of preeclampsia (a complication causing high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine, which indicates kidney damage) and gestational diabetes. (diabetes that develops during pregnancy).


Sleep disturbances during pregnancy can be linked to hormonal, physiological, metabolic and psychological changes. These changes can increase the risk of conditions that lead to insomnia. These pregnancy-related conditions can include mood and anxiety disorders, breathing-related sleep disorders, and restless leg syndrome (RLS).

Changes throughout pregnancy contribute to sleep disturbances in different ways. During the first trimester, a spike in the hormone progesterone causes:

All of these new symptoms can contribute to trouble sleeping at night. An increased level of progesterone can also increase the risk of sleep apnea and snoring.

It is possible to feel better and sleep better during the second trimester. However, in the third trimester, sleep disturbances may reappear. The growing fetus can lead to heartburn, muscle pain, urinary frequency, and extra pressure on the diaphragm during the third trimester. Estrogen levels increase during the third trimester, leading to rhinitis (nasal congestion, runny nose, and sneezing) and obstructive sleep apnea (the muscles in the back of the throat relax and disturb breathing).

Most health care providers do not recommend regular sleeping pills during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects and health complications. Most sleep and RLS medications pose risks to the developing fetus. Sleeping pills can also increase the risk of preterm labor, low birth weight, caesarean section and neonatal abstinence syndrome (withdrawal symptoms experienced by the baby from drugs exposed in the womb).

Natural remedies

Because sleeping pills are generally not recommended during pregnancy, many pregnant women are turning to natural sleep remedies. It is important to remember that not all natural remedies are considered safe during pregnancy. Talk to your health care provider about methods to try.


Acupuncture is used for a variety of pregnancy-related issues. It is generally considered safe in pregnancy for the treatment of:

A study found that acupuncture can significantly improve sleep quality in pregnant women. This may be due to its effect on melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone naturally secreted by the body that helps us relax and fall asleep. Research shows that acupuncture can increase the serum concentration of melatonin in the body.

In addition to improving sleep quality, increasing melatonin levels may also benefit the baby. Melatonin crosses the placenta and plays an important role in fetal brain development.


If you had trouble sleeping while pregnant, consider trying a prenatal yoga class. One review found that starting a regular yoga practice during the second trimester reduced the number of nighttime awakenings and time spent awake in bed for study participants. People who started yoga in the second trimester experienced more sleep quality benefits than those who started in the third trimester.


A regular exercise program can be beneficial for people with pregnancy insomnia. One review found that pregnant women who engaged in regular physical activity experienced significant improvements in the quality of their sleep. They also experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms. Regular exercise has been particularly helpful in treating third trimester pregnancy insomnia.


Massage therapy has a positive impact on the stress, mood and sleep of pregnant women. One review found that pregnant women who participated in a massage and relaxation program reported fewer sleep disturbances.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Reducing stress is an important way to improve sleep. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches individuals to recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors.

A clinical trial found that CBT led to significant improvements in sleep quality and insomnia symptoms in pregnant women. Study participants reported less time spent awake in bed and fewer symptoms of anxiety after participating in a CBT program. Participants were also less likely to need sleeping pills than those in the control group.

Starting CBT during pregnancy may also reduce the risk of postpartum mood disorders like depression and anxiety.

In addition to prescription sleeping pills, over-the-counter medications to avoid during pregnancy include:

  • Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen)
  • Aleve (naproxen)
  • Sudafed (phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine)
  • Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate)


Although it’s not possible to completely prevent pregnancy insomnia, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. Most healthcare providers consider sleep hygiene to be the first-line treatment for pregnancy insomnia. Sleep hygiene refers to the establishment of an environment that promotes good quality sleep. It can significantly improve the quality of life of pregnant women.

Consider trying one or all of the following sleep hygiene techniques:

  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark and only use a dim nightlight in the bathroom.
  • Remove all screens from your bedroom and avoid looking at them before going to bed.
  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid eating spicy or fried foods in the evening. Also start restricting fluids in the evening.
  • Aim to exercise for 30 minutes a day at least four to six hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  • Schedule your daytime naps earlier in the day.
  • Lie on your left side with your knees and hips bent. Keep a pillow between your legs to avoid hip or lower back pain.


Pregnancy insomnia is a common condition during pregnancy and refers to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Pregnancy insomnia can be caused by hormonal, physiological, metabolic and psychological changes during pregnancy. Regular use of sleeping pills is not recommended during pregnancy. Five natural remedies proven to improve sleep quality during pregnancy are acupuncture, yoga, exercise, massage, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

A word from Verywell

Most new parents expect to forgo sleep once their baby is born, but insomnia can cause sleepless nights even before the baby arrives. Pregnancy insomnia can increase the risk of serious complications and early treatment is essential. Talk to your healthcare provider about your sleep issues and learn about your treatment options. Just because pregnancy insomnia is common doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Several natural sleep options can provide relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you take melatonin during pregnancy?

    There is not enough evidence to determine if melatonin is a safe supplement to take during pregnancy. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

  • When does pregnancy insomnia start?

    Pregnancy insomnia can begin during pregnancy and often begins in the first trimester.

  • When does pregnancy insomnia end?

    Pregnancy insomnia usually disappears at the time of delivery. However, it is common to experience postpartum insomnia after birth due to nighttime feedings, physical discomfort, and mood swings.