sleep disturbances

Mamas on Bedrest: I Can’t Sleep!

February 17th, 2014

Why is it called bed rest when it’s anything but restful?

Why is it now that you are in bed-or at least reclined on the sofa for much of the day-you can’t sleep?

pregnant-in-bedIt’s a recurrent complaint that I hear all the time from Mamas on Bedrest: I Can’t Sleep! So let’s take a look at what’s going on during pregnancy and during pregnancy bed rest that makes sleeping so difficult.

If you recall, when you first became pregnant, all you wanted to do was sleep (and perhaps be sick, but that’s a topic for another post!). The first trimester of pregnancy is when your baby fully forms. From the moment of conception-the moment the sperm penetrates the egg-the resulting cell is rapidly dividing and growing. By the third week of pregnancy, you may not even be aware that you are pregnant, but your baby is growing and the nervous system is beginning to develop. By 5 weeks the spinal column has formed and by 6 weeks the heart has developed and will begin beating. It is this heart beat that is often first detected on ultrasound. Weeks 7-9 the limbs begin to form as do the inner organs. By 10 weeks the embryo has developed so much that it really does  look like a baby. At this point we call it a fetus and by 12 weeks, your baby has most of its vital organs in rudimentary form. From here on out, the baby will grow and the organs will further develop. So as you can imagine, while your body is giving its all to develop this little being, to form the placenta and to extract nutrients from your digestive tract to nourish your growing baby, it is expending A LOT of energy. During the first trimester, a natural protective mechanism is to make mamas nauseous and tired so that they don’t eat foods that may harm/irritate the developing baby and so that mamas will rest and allow their bodies to use the energy it would normally use to move mama about to help grow and develop the baby.

But in the second trimester, the baby is just growing. The nausea has typically stopped and most of the vital organs have formed and are now just growing and becoming more specified. Mamas typically have more energy during the second trimester and aren’t as sleepy. If during this period you are placed on bed rest, you are in your most “energized” portion of your pregnancy and put to bed. While you do require more rest, if you are in bed all day, able to snooze at random, you can imagine your sleep patterns may become a bit disorganized. To help with this, as much as possible, try to set up a regular schedule and stick to it. Awaken at the same time each morning. Have a routine of things to do throughout the day. If you do feel you need a nap, schedule that in. And have a set time to go to sleep. Having a regular schedule will help your body know when to sleep and when to be awake. It’s not a perfect solution but it has helped many mamas.

By the third trimester, you and your baby are getting bigger and the issue with sleep becomes getting comfortable. With the ever enlarging belly, there is more stress on your lower back, your hips, neck and shoulders and you may be sore. When you are on bed rest, make sure to support your body with pillows to relieve pressure on your shoulders, spine and hips. A Body pillow is a MUST not only for mamas on bed rest, but for pregnant mamas in general. And if you are lucky enough to have a partner who is willing to rub your feet or back, take advantage! Also, this is a great time to have a prenatal massage. Check and see if there is a certified prenatal massage therapist in your area that does home visits. (These make great shower gifts!!!!)

Finally, most mamas on bedrest are so worried about their pregnancies and their babies they often have a hard time relaxing so that they can fall asleep. In order for us to have a restful night’s sleep, we have to shut off our “vigilence centers”. What is your vigilence center you ask? It is the part of your brain that goes non-stop with chatter like,

“Hmm, I haven’t felt the baby move in the last 5 minutes. I wonder if everything is okay? Maybe I should roll over? No, my doctor said to lay on my side. But was it my left side or my right side? I’ll have to ask tomorrow at my appointment. Oh God, I’m having a non-stress test. I wonder what that is? Will it hurt? Will it hurt the baby? I’m pretty stressed thinking about it!….”

and on and on and on! It’s a wonder any of us get any sleep! If this is you, you will need a way to quiet your vigilence center so that you can calm down and get restful, restorative sleep. Many mamas have used meditation tapes/MP3’s with great success. I did a very brief google search and there are several available for free on youtube. There are also meditations for retail on and through such organizations as Hypnobirthing. Any of these that appeal to you are fine. I don’t recommend any one over another. It’s really whatever soothes you and allows you to “turn off your thoughts” and get some rest.

The good thing about bed rest is that it’s not forever! It really does end and once it does, you’ll have an even better reason not to sleep-you’ll be busy caring for your adorable little baby! Hang in there mamas! I know its hard but you can do it. Check out some of the suggested resources and let us know what worked best for you in our comments section below.


Mamas on Bedrest is this You? “I’m Pregnant, On Bedrest & I Can’t Sleep!”

September 6th, 2013

Today’s blog post was submitted by Ms. Lauren Rose, a freelance writer for Socialmonster. While the piece is applicable to any pregnant mama, because Mamas on Bedrest spend so much time in bed, trying to get comfortable enough to actually rest, I thought this piece had some great tips and reminders. Enjoy.


pregnant_women_picturesWe can’t think of another time in a woman’s life when a good night’s rest is as important as during pregnancy. Poor sleep can exacerbate the common aches and pains of pregnancy as well as the emotional roller coaster that comes with growing another human being. Each trimester comes with distinct types of sleep disturbances for the women. And when moms-to-be are on bed rest, the difficulties can be frustrating and even detrimental to health. The good news is, many issues can be alleviated with some easy adjustments.

First Trimester

The excess fluid in your body will send you hurrying to the bathroom numerous times throughout the night. You may also find it difficult to get comfortable. The first trimester also brings high levels of the hormone progesterone, which is a sleep-inducing hormone. More than 50 percent of pregnant women take a nap during their workweek, and 60 percent take naps on the weekend, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). Progesterone can cause drowsiness during the day and insomnia at night.

During pregnancy, your breasts will become tender, which makes finding a comfortable sleeping position difficult. If you like to sleep on your stomach, you’ll quickly experience discomfort. One of the best things you can do is to begin sleeping on your left side. Sleeping in this position increases the flow of blood to the uterus, which delivers more nutrients to the baby. This position also helps the body eliminate both fluids and waste. As your uterus continues to enlarge, it presses on your bladder. One way to combat this is to drink the majority of fluids during the day and cut back in the late afternoon.

Second Trimester

Throughout the second trimester, a good night’s sleep is more likely and you’ll notice an increase in energy. This is the time to prepare for the little one. If you’re restricted to bed rest, recruit friends and family members to help get the nursery ready and make the birth plan. Because hormone levels are not rising as quickly and morning sickness has most likely passed, you will sleep better than you have in weeks. Try recommending sleeping habits at this point, before the third-trimester sleeping difficulties.

●       Switch to sleeping on your left side

●       Alleviate back pain with a memory foam mattress

●       Create a regular sleep schedule

●       Have a relaxing routine at bedtime

●       Exercise early in the day (Mamas on Bedrest can stretch and check out some of our modified exercises on our Youtube channel!)

Third Trimester

During the third trimester, women wake up more frequently throughout the night, which decreases their periods of deep sleep. The baby grows quickly during the third trimester, putting pressure on the bladder. It’s OK to cut back on fluid intake during the late afternoon to evening to decrease bathroom visits throughout the night. You’ll need to completely empty your bladder each time you urinate by leaning forward as you urinate.

The size of your uterus makes lying down comfortably difficult, which can be hard when spending most of your time in bed. The uterus has grown from its original 70 g with a cavity space of approximate 1 L to more than 1000 g with a cavity space of nearly 20 L, reports, and this creates back pain. Try to sleep with pillows between your knees and behind her back while lying on your left side. As your stomach continues to grow, you’ll need to increase your comfort by propping yourself up.


Sleep is such an important element in the health and well being of a pregnant woman, that a mama must do all that she can to ensure restful restorative sleep. Hopefully these tips from Ms. Rose will be helpful to some of you. Thanks again to Lauren Rose for this submission.