The Real Reasons You Experience Insomnia During Pregnancy

When you get pregnant, you know that there are certain things from your pre-pregnancy life that are not going to be your reality for the next nine months. Like raw sushi. And hard liquor. And certainly by month six or seven, having what people refer to as a "waist." What you don't necessarily expect to lose is the ability to sleep. But indeed, pregnancy insomnia affects 44.2 percent of pregnant women, according to study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. So what gives?

Insomnia is poor or inadequate sleep, characterized by difficulty falling and staying asleep — and if you do sleep, not feeling well-rested when you wake up (via Medical News Today). That condition certainly matches the experience that one mom-to-be described on What to Expect: "This entire week I've been waking up in the middle of the night and I just lay there with my eyes closed. Then, I doze in and out. I have migraines now, and I think it's because I'm not getting enough sleep!" So, why is it that being pregnant means getting a decent night's sleep is a pipe dream?

Discomfort and anxiety may be behind your insomnia

If you're pregnant, there's actually not just one reason why you can't sleep peacefully at night. Of course, all of those symptoms of pregnancy that haunt you during the day, such as back pain, heartburn, and needing to pee constantly — not to mention existing with a watermelon-sized growth tightening the skin on your abdomen — will make it hard to sleep comfortably (via the American Pregnancy Association). More surprisingly, restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea (even if you don't normally have it) also affect many pregnant women and keep them up at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. As always, be sure to speak with your doctor if you're concerned about any of these symptoms.

Let's also not downplay anxiety. When it's 3:27 a.m., how can you peacefully drift off to bed when you're not sure whether Esther sounds like the name of a very strong woman, as you believe — or like a fungal growth (your partner's theory). And what if you registered for the wrong brand of baby stroller? 

Fortunately, lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Meditating and exercise can help calm a worried brain, and making sure you're comfortable — the right clothes, the right room temperature, the right pillows — can help quite a bit (via Healthline). These changes to improve your sleep will come in handy in a few months, when you've got an all-night-party animal who has zero interest in getting tucked in at night.