Pregnancy causes for many women to lose sleep for various reasons including fatigue and exhaustion. Women would be happy to know that insomnia is not detrimental to a fetus. About three-quarters of women experience insomnia during pregnancy. Insomnia is defined as inadequate or poor-quality of sleep resulting from the combination of:

  • Struggling to fall asleep
  • Waking up repeatedly through the night
  • Difficulty returning to sleep
  • Feeling unrefreshed after sleep.

Causes of back pain may include:

  • Discomfort because of increased size of your abdomen
  • Back pains and aches
  • Pelvic pain
  • Hip pain
  • Feeling sore
  • Need to wake up during the night to urinate
  • Anticipation and anxiety due to the impending arrival of the baby
  • Vivid dreams
  • Changes in hormones
  • Fetal movement
  • Heartburn
  • Shortness of breath.

Women can prepare for the imminent insomnia during pregnancy by:

  • New sleeping positions
  • Take a warm bath or receive a massage before sleeping
  • Creating a comfortable sleeping environment by adjusting the temperature, playing relaxing music to help ease into sleep
  • Relaxation techniques
    • Childbirth class
  • Relax your mind by unwinding before bed
    • Reading
    • Watching lighthearted TV
    • Small snack
    • Warm milk
  • Take naps if necessary, throughout the day.

When the insomnia worsens, a pregnant woman should inform her physician right away. To minimize uneasiness during sleep a woman should:

  • Favor your left side – improves blood flow to the baby and body
  • Pillows – between your bent knees, under the abdomen, and behind your back
  • Elevating your head – avoid or decreases heartburn and/or snoring
  • Maintain sleep routine – sleep and wake up at a constant time
  • Fluids – drink many during the day and cut down intake at night
  • Healthy foods – balanced diets, avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus foods or juices, and spicy foods
  • Staying active – physical activity prevents excess weight gain and leg cramps, reduce stress and boost energy
  • Stretch – calf muscles
  • Relaxation techniques – reduce tension
  • Nasal saline sprays – avoid smoking
  • Set a mood – dark, quiet and comfortable cool environment
  • Relieve pain safely – maintain with management and treatment.


Figure 1 – This is the most appropriate way to treat insomnia with pharmacotherapy.

Figure 1 – This is the most appropriate way to treat insomnia with pharmacotherapy.

Pregnant women residing in Denver should visit the Denver Holistic Center for more information if they wish to seek pharmacological treatment versus behavioral therapy. Herbal and dietary supplements include:

  • Valerian root
  • Melatonin
  • Lavender
  • Passionflower
  • Kava
  • John’s wort
  • Glutamine
  • Niacin (vitamin B3)
  • L-tryptophan (may increase serotonin level).

Medications which may be prescribed are barbiturates, opiates and antidepressants. Pregnant women should not self-prescribe because some drugs may be very dangerous for their fetus.