From heartburn to pre-birth anxiety, there’s a myriad of reasons you might be struggling to sleep during your pregnancy. On top of your existing symptoms, sleep deprivation can affect both your physical and emotional wellbeing, adding frustration and even more fatigue to the list. To help you conquer those sleepless nights, here’s what you should know about insomnia and what you can do to cope.

When does insomnia start?

Insomnia, or the inability to fall or stay asleep, can happen at any point during those magical nine months. Increased progesterone levels in the first trimester can cause bouts of sleeplessness, while many expectant mothers experience insomnia more frequently in the second or third trimesters as other pregnancy symptoms increase. As your belly grows, it also becomes more difficult to get comfortable.

What causes insomnia?

Insomnia can occur for various reasons. Most commonly, it’s a complex combination of different factors and symptoms that cause difficulty falling and staying asleep.

  • Hormonal changes
  • Heartburn
  • Leg cramping
  • Body aches
  • Frequent bathroom trips
  • Discomfort due to growing baby bump
  • Pre-birth anxiety or anticipation
  • Frequent, vivid dreams

What can I do to cope with insomnia?

Before you get frustrated at your suddenly uncomfortable mattress or sickly snoring partner (did they always snore that loudly?!), remember that you might be getting more shut-eye than you realise. But, between your senseless dreams, parenting anxieties and oh-so frequent trips to the bathroom, it’s no wonder you feel like you’re surviving off 13 minutes of sleep at a time. So, if you’ve tried relaxation techniques, developed a bedtime routine and rest still doesn’t come, don’t wait for it.

After 30 to 40 minutes of trying to doze off (depending on how impatient you are), hop out of bed and try conquering a small task to encourage your body to feel tired or your mind to relax. Here are some handy things-to-do when the imp of insomnia strikes:

  • Write it out: If you’re experiencing some anxiety about birth or parenting, write them down in a journal. This can help to clear your head of the concerns and relax your mind for sleep.
  • Complete light chores: Pay a bill or jot down tomorrow’s to-do list to help organise your thoughts. Using your sleepless time productively can help your mind and body feel more prepared for rest.
  • Read: Some light reading on the couch or in a cosy spot around your home can also encourage your brain to feel more tired.
  • Meditation, yoga or breathing exercises: If your mind is muddled with thoughts, take some time to reconnect with yourself through meditation, yoga or rhythmic breathing. This can help to clear your head and prepare both your mind and body for sleep.

Remember, if your insomnia and exhaustion begin to affect your health and wellbeing, talk to your doctor about potential remedies.