Sleepless nights during pregnancy? Lack of sleep may affect your baby

Get a good night's sleep while you are expecting. It is important, as lack of sleep can affect your baby and your health.
Pregnant woman yawning
Poor quality sleep is common among pregnant women. Image courtesy: Freepik
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 5 Mar 2024, 12:00 pm IST
  • 126
Medically Reviewed by

Hormonal changes are often blamed for mood swings or pain in the abdomen or back during periods. Even during pregnancy, hormones play a role in many problems, including sleepless nights. Apart from the physical discomfort, there is also anxiety about the pregnancy and parenthood that can lead to sleep disturbances. Lack of sleep during pregnancy has consequences. So, expecting mothers need to get at least seven hours of sleep for the sake of their and baby’s health.

Why do pregnant women experience poor sleep quality?

Adults, including women who are expecting, need seven to nine hours of sleep every night, but pregnant women mostly experience less sleep, according to a 2023 research published in the Clocks & Sleep journal. Researchers found that 80 percent of women reported poor sleep throughout their pregnancy.

Pregnant woman sitting on a bed
Hormonal changes can lead to poor sleep quality. Image courtesy: Freepik

Pregnant women often experience poor sleep quality due to a combination of physical discomfort, hormonal changes, and emotional stress, says obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Meenakshi Bansal.

  • As the pregnancy progresses, physical discomfort such as back pain, frequent urination, and abdominal discomfort can make it challenging to find a comfortable sleeping position.
  • Hormonal changes, including increases in progesterone levels, can lead to symptoms like nausea, heartburn, and restless leg syndrome, further disrupting sleep.
  • Anxiety and worries about the pregnancy, impending parenthood, and other life changes can contribute to sleep disturbances.

In which trimester do pregnant women have sleeping problems?

Pregnant women may experience sleeping problems in all the trimesters, but they tend to be most pronounced during the first and third trimesters.

1. First trimester

During the first trimester, hormonal fluctuations, particularly increased levels of progesterone, can cause fatigue and sleepiness during the day, leading to disrupted nighttime sleep patterns, says the expert. Also, nausea and frequent urination, which are common early pregnancy symptoms, can interrupt sleep.

2. Third trimester

In the third trimester, physical discomfort becomes more pronounced as the baby grows larger and puts pressure on the mother’s organs and muscles. Back pain, leg cramps, and difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position can lead to frequent awakenings during the night. Also, increased levels of anxiety and anticipation about labour and delivery, as well as the arrival of the baby, can contribute to sleep disturbances.

What are the consequences of lack of sleep during pregnancy?

Lack of sleep during pregnancy can have significant consequences for both the mother and the baby. Some of the consequences include:

1. Increased risk of gestational diabetes

Sleep deprivation can affect glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, increasing the risk of developing gestational diabetes. It can increase the chance of the baby being born too early or weigh too much.

2. Preterm labour

Chronic sleep deprivation during pregnancy may increase the risk of preterm labour and delivery. The baby may have breathing problems or developmental delay.

3. High blood pressure

Poor sleep quality may also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy. It can lead to complications such as organ damage and impaired fetal growth.

Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.


4. Postpartum depression

Sleep disturbances during pregnancy can contribute to the development of postpartum depression. It can negatively impact the mother’s mental health and her ability to care for herself and her baby after childbirth, says Dr Bansal.

5. Impaired fetal development

Inadequate sleep during pregnancy may affect fetal development and growth. It can lead to potential long-term consequences for the baby’s health and well-being.

6. Increased maternal stress

Sleep deprivation can exacerbate feelings of stress and anxiety during pregnancy. This will make it more difficult for the mother to cope with the physical and emotional demands of pregnancy.

How can pregnant women sleep better?

There are several strategies that pregnant women can try to improve sleep quality and avoid insomnia during pregnancy.

1. Establish a bedtime routine

Engage in relaxing activities before bed, such as reading or taking a warm bath. These can help signal to the body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep, shares the expert.

Pregnant woman sleeping
Go for pregnancy pillows for better sleep quality. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Create a comfortable sleep environment

Invest in a supportive mattress and pillows. There are pregnancy pillows that can provide support for the abdomen, back, and hips, helping to alleviate discomfort and improve sleep quality. Also, keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet so that you can get restful sleep.

3. Practice relaxation techniques

Go for techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga to help calm the mind and body before bedtime. These relaxation techniques can make it easier to fall asleep.

4. Limit caffeine and fluids before bed

Avoid consuming caffeine and large amounts of fluids in the hours leading up to bedtime to minimise disruptions to sleep. If you don’t drink too much fluids before bedtime you won’t have to worry about frequent urination.

5. Maintain a consistent sleep schedule

Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even if it is the weekend, can help regulate the body’s internal clock and promote better sleep patterns.

You can talk to your doctor if you experience persistent sleep disturbances during pregnancy. They can offer personalised advice and support to help you get the rest you need for a healthy pregnancy.

  • 126
About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

Next Story