Pregnancy And Sleep : Connection

If you frequently wake up two or three hours before your alarm, know that you are not alone. Many people, doesn’t know connection between pregnancy and sleep. Also, regardless of their life stage or health, experience this common problem of waking up too early. This sleep disturbance can be distressing and lead to exhaustion. The good news is that there are various treatment options and lifestyle changes available to help you achieve a full night’s sleep once again. Many factors are affected the sleep pattern, Here we explore about Pregnancy and Sleep connection like early wake-up or sleep disturbance.

Why am I wake-up early during pregnancy?

The study reveals that disturbing the altered daily timing during pregnancy may pose a risk to the pregnancy. This finding marks a significant initial advancement in comprehending the dynamics of term pregnancy, potentially offering insights to intervene and prevent preterm birth in specific populations.

Nationally, one in 10 babies is born prematurely, before 37 weeks. Previous research has linked shift work and disruptions in regular sleep-wake schedules with preterm birth and other adverse reproductive outcomes. However, until now, there has been limited understanding of circadian timing during pregnancy.

The Effects of Pregnancy on Sleep

Pregnancy significantly affects sleep in various ways, including changes in sleep quality, quantity, and overall sleep patterns. For individuals with pre-existing sleep disorders, these conditions may worsen during pregnancy.

Additionally, many new sleep problems can arise for the first time during pregnancy. While some of these issues may begin shortly after conception, they often intensify in frequency and duration as the pregnancy advances.

During the third trimester, almost all women experience an increase in nighttime awakenings. Physical discomfort, psychological adjustments, and hormonal fluctuations collectively impact sleep, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue.. The combination of these factors can contribute to sleep disturbances throughout the pregnancy.

Sleep Disturbance in some specific time during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters, sleep disturbances are common. In the early stages, your body undergoes rapid physical and hormonal changes, leading to issues such as heartburn, morning sickness (nausea and vomiting that can occur during the day or at night), leg cramps, shortness of breath, abdominal discomfort, breast tenderness, vivid dreams, back pain, and frequent nighttime urination.

Already Sleeping Pattern Not Set?

If you have already Sleep difficulties? it can worsen during pregnancy, and new challenges may arise with each phase of the journey. It is essential to understand how hormones play a role in sleep during pregnancy, explore potential solutions to address sleep problems, and discover the best positions to alleviate back pain and insomnia. By reviewing these aspects, you can optimize your sleep quality throughout your pregnancy and find ways to manage and overcome sleep-related challenges that may arise.

How Your Pregnancy Hormones affect your Sleep

Hormonal changes play a significant role in how pregnancy affects sleep. These changes are a natural part of being pregnant and can impact various aspects of the body and brain. Here’s how hormones can affect sleep during pregnancy:


  • The hormone progesterone relaxes smooth muscles in the body, causing frequent urination, heartburn, and nasal congestion. These issues can disrupt sleep patterns. It also reduces wakefulness during the night and decreases the amount of REM sleep, the phase characterized by vivid dreaming. Progesterone can also shorten the time it takes to fall asleep.


  • Another important hormone in pregnancy, estrogen can cause blood vessels to expand (vasodilation). This may result in swelling or edema in the feet and legs and increased congestion in the nose, which can interfere with breathing during sleep. Like progesterone, estrogen can also reduce the amount of REM sleep.

Other Hormones:

  • Melatonin levels tend to be higher during pregnancy, which may impact sleep patterns. Prolactin, another hormone, can increase slow-wave sleep, which is the deep and restorative phase of sleep.

It’s important to note that these hormonal changes can vary from person to person, and each woman’s experience of sleep during pregnancy may be unique.

Studies have uncovered patterns of pregnancy and sleep

Research studies have revealed significant changes in sleep patterns throughout pregnancy. These changes have been observed through polysomnography, a sleep study that monitors various sleep characteristics. Here’s a breakdown of how sleep changes in each trimester:

First Trimester:

  • In the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of pregnancy, total sleep time tends to increase. This phase is characterized by longer sleep periods at night and a tendency for more frequent daytime napping.. However, sleep efficiency decreases, characterized by more frequent awakenings during the night. Deep or slow-wave sleep also decreases, leading to complaints of poor sleep quality.

Second Trimester

  • Second Trimester (Weeks 13 to Weeks 28): Sleep tends to improve during the second trimester. Sleep efficiency increases, and less time is spent awake after initially falling asleep at night. However, as the second trimester comes to an end, the number of awakenings during the night starts to rise again.

Third Trimester

  • Third Trimester (Weeks 29 to Term): In the final trimester, pregnant women experience more nighttime awakenings and spend more time awake during the night. Daytime napping becomes more frequent, leading to reduced sleep efficiency. Additionally, sleep becomes lighter, with more frequent occurrences of stage 1 or 2 sleep.

Possible Sleep Problems During Pregnancy

Pregnancy can give rise to various sleep problems and symptoms. Alongside the changes in sleep patterns and stages mentioned earlier, certain sleep disorders and symptoms may manifest during pregnancy. These can be categorized by trimester and may culminate in the effects of labor and delivery. Here’s an overview:

First Trimester:

  • Increased daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep
  • Frequent urination disrupting sleep
  • Nausea and vomiting affecting sleep quality

Second Trimester:

  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or uncomfortable sensations in the legs
  • Leg cramps during sleep
  • Increased snoring or development of sleep apnea
  • Heartburn or acid reflux causing nighttime awakenings

Third Trimester:

  • More frequent nighttime awakenings
  • Difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position due to a growing belly
  • Pregnancy often leads to an increased need to urinate during the night
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing while lying down.

Labor and Delivery:

  • Disrupted sleep due to discomfort and contractions
  • Anxiety and anticipation affecting sleep quality

It’s important to remember that not all pregnant individuals will experience these sleep problems, and the severity can vary. If you have concerns about your sleep during pregnancy, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider for guidance and support.

When The Sleep Disruptions May Improve During Pregnancy?

  • Although some pregnancy-related sleep disruptions may improve during the second trimester, they often return during the third. As your baby grows larger and your body further adjusts to accommodate them, sleep can become difficult once again. In the third trimester, sinus congestion, leg cramps, hip pain, the urge to urinate, and other discomforts can prevent you from getting a restful night’s sleep.

Strategies to Improve : Pregnancy and Sleep

During pregnancy, it is common for women to experience changes in their sleep patterns. If you’re waking up early and having trouble getting enough sleep, there are several strategies you can try to improve your sleep during pregnancy:

1. Establish a regular sleep routine:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes better sleep.

2. Create a comfortable sleep environment during pregnancy:

  • Ensure that your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet. Use curtains or an eye mask to block out any excess light, and consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out any disturbing noises.

3. Practice relaxation techniques for sleep during pregnancy

  • Before going to bed, engage in activities that help you relax, such as taking a warm bath, practicing deep breathing exercises, or listening to calming music. This can help prepare your body for sleep.

4. Support your body with pillows:

  • Use pregnancy pillows or regular pillows to support your body and find a comfortable sleeping position. Experiment with different positions, such as sleeping on your side with a pillow between your knees, to relieve any discomfort and promote better sleep.

5. Limit fluid intake before bed:

  • Reduce your intake of fluids a few hours before bedtime to minimize the need for frequent trips to the bathroom during the night.

6. Watch your caffeine intake:

  • Avoid or limit caffeine, especially in the afternoon and evening. Caffeine can interfere with sleep and increase the frequency of waking up.

7. Stay active during the day:

  • Engage in regular physical activity during the day, but avoid exercising close to bedtime. Exercise can help improve sleep quality and reduce restlessness.

8. Manage stress and anxiety:

  • Pregnancy can bring about various emotions and concerns. Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or prenatal yoga, to help reduce stress and anxiety that might interfere with sleep.

9. Avoid stimulating activities before bed:

  • Limit exposure to electronic screens (e.g., smartphones, tablets, TVs) at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with sleep.

10. Talk to your healthcare provider:

  • If your sleep problems persist or worsen, consult your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice and may recommend safe sleep aids or other interventions if necessary.

Sleep undergoes significant changes throughout the major trimesters of pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuations impact sleep structure, and physical discomforts that often accompany pregnancy can lead to disrupted sleep. The good news is that many of these sleep difficulties tend to resolve after childbirth.

If you are experiencing sleep difficulties during pregnancy, it’s crucial to talk to your obstetrician about it. They can provide guidance and support, and if necessary, they may refer you to a board-certified sleep physician who can discuss treatment options for sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, or restless legs syndrome. Don’t hesitate to seek help and support to improve your sleep during this special time.

Remember, every pregnancy is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s essential to listen to your body, prioritize self-care, and consult your healthcare provider for guidance specific to your situation.

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