Is sleep a distant memory now that you're pregnant? Considering that nausea, heartburn, and a constant need to pee may now be a daily fact of life, it's no wonder that whatever sleep you get feels hard won. In fact, almost all women have trouble sleeping at some point during pregnancy. But knowing that countless other pregnant women are also wide awake doesn't provide much comfort when you're staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. Read on to find out what kind of slumber you can expect during your first trimester and why. And don't forget to visit our sleep disturbances and coping strategies area to learn how to make the most of your pregnancy zzzs.
Disturbance No. 1: A sudden need to nap
Early on in your pregnancy, you'll start feeling very sleepy during the day. This sudden craving for naps is caused by elevated levels of progesterone, a female hormone that helps regulate your reproductive cycle but that also has a sedative effect. The flood of this natural chemical can make a normal day at work seem as taxing as running a marathon; you may be so worn out that you think you're coming down with the flu.
Though progesterone makes you feel drowsy, it can also disrupt your sleep at night, leading to even more fatigue during the day. Unfortunately, there's no real way around this problem other than to rest as much as you can — even if you can't fall asleep. Remember, too, that the hours you spend in bed rarely equal the hours you actually sleep, so grab a quick catnap whenever the urge strikes you.
Disturbance No. 2: Trouble getting comfy
Your newly tender breasts may make it hard for you to find a comfortable sleeping position, especially if you're used to sleeping on your stomach. Your first trimester is the perfect time to start training yourself to sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood and nutrients to your fetus and uterus and to help your kidneys get rid of waste and fluids. The sooner you get used to this position, the better you'll be able to sleep when your belly is bulging.
Disturbance No. 3: A constant need to pee
Another sleep stealer is your growing uterus, which puts pressure on your bladder and sends you scrambling for the bathroom more frequently than you thought humanly possible. If you're sick of doing the bathroom scuttle, drink plenty of fluids during the day but cut down in the late afternoon and evening.
Take heart: This, too, shall pass
If you feel caught in a vicious cycle of wakefulness at night and exhaustion during the day, you're not alone. More than half of pregnant women take at least one nap during the work week, while 60 percent take at least one weekend nap. Bottom line: Expect your first trimester to be tiring, and listen to your body when it tells you to slow down or rest.
Reviewed by the BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board