Sleep Disturbances During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

The struggle of getting a full night’s sleep

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If you are in your third trimester or the end of your second, you may have noticed that getting a good night’s sleep has become increasingly difficult. Between insomnia, leg cramps, frequent trips to the bathroom, hot flashes, and overthinking, you find yourself more and more tired and perhaps less productive during the day. Ironically, when you complain about fatigue to close ones you often hear the classic “But try to embrace these final moments of peace, soon you won’t be sleeping at all!”. Sure, your little one may keep you up at night once born but many mothers-to-be find such comments ridiculous as their little ones start keeping them up at night already before the end of the second trimester. This article discusses sleep disturbances and provides some tips on how to improve your quality of sleep.

Sleep during pregnancy

Pregnancy brings physiological, psychological, and social changes to every woman’s life. Sleep is crucial and it strongly affects the overall quality of life. Most women will experience changes in sleep patterns and sleep quality throughout pregnancy. Sleep disturbances are common and they affect two-thirds of all pregnant women. Research shows that these disturbances tend to increase significantly as pregnancy progresses. During the first trimester, women will typically experience extreme fatigue and require more sleep than usual. The second trimester is easier for most women on many levels, but sleep difficulties return as you approach the end of the second and third trimesters.


Insomnia is the difficulty or inability to fall, maintain, and return to sleep after awakening. On average, women suffer from insomnia more than men. Several causes exist including secretion changes and fetus growth. You can do a few things to reduce insomnia and improve your quality of sleep. 

  • Reduce caffeine: Caffeine consumption during pregnancy is completely safe if the recommended amount is not exceeded. However, if you suffer from insomnia you may want to cut down on caffeine and sugar. For more information on caffeine consumption during pregnancy, read the article below.

Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy – Women’s health
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  • Reducing nap times: Poor quality of sleep makes you more tired and less productive during the day. Naps are sometimes necessary, especially when you struggle to sleep at night. However, it might be beneficial to reduce nap times during the day so that you are physically more tired at night.
  • Exercising: Exercise is known to not only improve sleep but also overall well-being. Any type of exercise even just walking may help release energy and improve the quality of sleep at night. A study showed that walking during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester improves the general quality of life and sleep. You can use this time to socialise as well. Try arranging a time slot for daily walks with your friends, family, or partner.

Leg cramps

There is nothing worse than waking up to painful cramps. Leg cramps are common during the second and third trimesters, especially at night. The causes are not well known, but it is believed that they are a result of changes in blood circulation, increased pressure on leg muscles and changes in nerve and blood vessels due to the baby’s weight. If the cramps are too painful and frequent, speak to a doctor or midwife. You may need to treat it with supplements such as calcium and magnesium. Otherwise, try the following remedies:

  • Walking: As mentioned, your baby’s weight puts pressure on your leg muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, resulting in blood circulation changes. Not moving enough worsens blood circulation which may cause these cramps. It is therefore important to move regularly. 
  • Stretching: Try calf stretches before bedtime if you get cramps at night. 
  • Hydration: Ensure you drink enough water during the day to keep your muscles hydrated.

Frequent trips to the bathroom

During pregnancy, your growing baby puts pressure on your bladder causing you to urinate more frequently. During the last trimester, the baby is heavier, thus pressing on it even more, which may wake you up several times at night. Hydrate yourself as much as possible during the day and avoid drinking water and other fluids too late or just before bedtime.

Overthinking and anxiety

Mental health issues such as depression often impact sleep and can be one of the causes of insomnia. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you or your close ones are worried about your mental health. You can read about mental health during pregnancy here. 🡪 lien du premier article que j’ai envoyé.

With the birth of your baby getting closer, it is completely normal to experience worry and anxiety. Here are a few ideas for reducing anxiety and worry:

  • Practice mindfulness: Bringing your attention to the present moment means bringing awareness to your body sensations, thoughts, and feelings. This makes you more conscious of yourself and leaves room for change. 
  • Breathing exercises: Breathing exercises are linked to the above point. Taking deep breaths brings awareness to your body and may help you relax.
  • Talk to your partner: Sharing your symptoms and feelings with your partner can help you both. It helps you feel less alone, and more understood. It also makes your partner feel more included and allows the two of you to connect.
  • Journal: Writing is a practical way of organising thoughts. It can help you understand yourself better.

Getting a good night’s sleep in your third trimester can be tricky. While this is normal, there are many tips and remedies you can apply to improve your quality of sleep and well-being. Never hesitate to reach out to your doctor or midwife if you have concerns or questions about your physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

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