Pregnancy and birth


Although I’m being spared any terrible nausea at the moment, I’m paying in other ways: I’m absolutely exhausted, but I’m having real trouble sleeping at night. Today I’ve been awake since before 4am and I’m shattered.

Being an internet fiend, I’ve been googling to see what’s going on. This is what I’ve found:

In the first trimester, insomnia is relatively common and is caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy. Dr. Powell [sleep expert lady] says there are a couple of reasons for this. “Early in pregnancy women tend to feel very fatigued because of what I call the progesterone phenomenon,” says Dr. Powell. “Progesterone is a natural sedative, and a woman may be so tired she has this sensation of not being able to keep her eyes open. She may react by napping during the day or falling asleep on the couch after work. This then gets her out of her normal sleep patterns.”

The result is she may not be able to fall asleep that night, which then just sets in place a vicious cycle of exhaustion. To avoid this, Dr. Powell suggests trying to avoid long naps during the day. Try taking a walk or finding some other activity instead of sleeping. Go to bed at the same time every night, even if it’s earlier than your “normal” pre-pregnancy schedule to get some extra sleep.
In addition to hormonal changes, Dr. Powell notes there is often a lot of anxiety in the first trimester. A woman may have concerns about her health or the baby’s health and may worry about miscarriage. There may even be more specific reasons for anxiety, such as financial worries if the pregnancy was unplanned. For this type of emotion-related insomnia, Dr. Powell suggests trying to find someone to talk to who may help ease your worries, such as a friend, clergyman, or your doctor.

The other common reason for insomnia is sleep disturbances due to having to urinate frequently. At this point in the pregnancy, the uterus is still fairly small and has not yet pushed up out of the pelvis. As a result, it pushes against the bladder and can cause frequent urination. This will resolve itself in the second trimester as the uterus grows and pops up out of the pelvis.

So far I haven’t noticed that ‘needing to wee all the time’ thing, although I was awake this morning after getting up for the loo.

I have been napping a lot during the day, and it hasn’t been affecting my ability to nod off at night, but maybe I need to try to limit my nap times and see if that helps me to stay asleep/go back to sleep. And I’m not consciously feeling a huge amount of anxiety and that isn’t really keeping me awake, but I do find it hard to switch my brain off when I have woken up – I start thinking about all the things I need to do, ranging from the mundane (vacuuming) to the macro (set up an entire charity, after our funding is confirmed).

Anyway, I’m going to try to get through today without having a long nap – I might have 45 minutes or something, but I shall set my alarm!

2 thoughts on “Insomnia

  1. Waking up and not being able to go back to sleep is horrible. The mind seems to be suffering from ADHD, hopping from one subject to another. Google ‘power nap’. I am sure I have read somewhere that if you can close your eyes and sleep for 10 minutes, it is more helpful than a longer nap during the day. I always feel like rubbish after a long an afternoon nap. In any event I hope your body sorts its sleep pattern out soon.

    1. Thanks Mum! Today my acupuncturist pretty much said not to worry too much about it and to just sleep whenever I can. I guess that’s what I’ll be doing when the baby comes along!

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