Pregnancy: Third Trimester Insomnia

Is it normal to have pregnancy 3rd trimester insomnia? What causes third trimester insomnia? How to improve insomnia during pregnancy?

Insomnia is unfortunately a common experience during all stages of pregnancy, and even more so during the later stages. Pregnant women frequently report taking much longer to fall asleep, waking up one or more times every night, and feeling tired no matter how much sleep they get.

But why does third trimester insomnia happen and how can it be improved? What are some self-help ideas for third trimester insomnia? Read on!

What Can Cause Third Trimester Insomnia?

It is completely normal to feel tired during pregnancy, and in the third trimester your body will be doing a lot of extra work and you will have to carry a lot of extra weight. 

Unsurprisingly, all of this can lead to tiredness and even exhaustion, making it important for you to get plenty of rest, and you will likely need to sleep for longer during pregnancy than you usually would. 

However, getting this much-needed rest can be very difficult for the many women who experience insomnia in this period due to a change in sleeping patterns during pregnancy. It’s important to remember that although a lack of sleep can make things feel pretty difficult and exhausting, it will not cause harm to your baby in any way.

There are many discomforts and problems experienced during the third trimester of pregnancy that could negatively impact your sleep. Here are some of the possible causes of third-trimester insomnia:


The general discomforts experienced during the late stages of pregnancy are one likely cause of pregnancy insomnia. The size of your belly will often make it harder to get in a comfortable position when in bed, and many people also suffer from various aches and pains that make it difficult to fall, and stay, asleep.

For getting into a comfortable position, you could try using pillows to support your belly and other places where it is needed. Also, keep in mind that laying on your side is recommended as the safest position to sleep in for you and your baby.

Another uncomfortable issue that many people experience during the third trimester are leg cramps, which can be very painful and often occur at night in bed.

Some possible causes of them are a lack of exercise and the weight of your growing baby putting more pressure on your legs. Staying active, hydrating properly and doing stretches may be good ways to prevent leg cramps from happening.

Anxiety And Low Mood

Your mood and wellbeing are important for sleep, and if there are a lot of worries going through your mind, such as about your baby, the future, or even about your sleep itself, it can easily disturb your rest and contribute to 3rd-trimester insomnia.

Being anxious about these things is perfectly natural during this time, but you could benefit a lot from trying to relax and clear your mind.

You could talk about your worries and fears with someone close to you or with your healthcare providers, and consider trying relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or visualization, and simply going for a walk in a natural location could also set your mind more at ease.

If you are often feeling very down and tired, and you have other symptoms such as losing interest in the things you like doing, it is also possible that you have depression. If you suspect that is the case, talk to your doctor about it, as they will surely be able to help.


Temperature is an important factor in getting quality sleep. In general, it is best to sleep in a cool environment, which is not too cold or too hot. However, this is where pregnancy can introduce new problems. Having hot flashes and sweating excessively while in bed are common experiences for pregnant women.

This is probably caused by hormonal changes, increased blood flow and a higher metabolism as your body is working so hard.

If you often feel too hot in bed, finding ways to make your bedroom feel cooler is worth the effort and may be just what you need.

If hot flashes are affecting your sleep severely, you could also discuss the symptoms with your healthcare provider to find better relief.


Heartburn is a common problem throughout pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. It causes a burning sensation in the chest and can cause you to feel sick and bloated. The symptoms often worsen as you lay down, which can lead to sleep difficulties.

Heartburn is more likely to develop in the later stages of pregnancy because of the increasing pressure that your baby puts on your stomach, and additionally because of hormonal changes, which may cause muscles in your stomach and esophagus to relax too much.

Restless legs

Another problem that could interfere greatly with your sleep is restless legs syndrome (RLS). This is a condition that causes you to have an uncontrollable urge to move and jerk your legs, as well as causing unusual and unpleasant sensations to be felt around them.

Unfortunately, RLS can also contribute to third trimester insomnia, but a weighted blanket for restless legs can help relieve the symptoms.

There is a link between restless legs syndrome and pregnancy, especially in the later stages. About a fifth of pregnant women will experience the symptoms of this condition during the third trimester.

The condition usually worsens during the evening and night, which can cause a lot of disruption to your sleep. Some of the methods for easing the condition are taking hot baths, stretching and exercising your legs and doing an activity that helps to distract from the symptoms.

Unusual Dreams

It might not be something that comes to mind immediately, but it is also not uncommon for your dreams to be affected during pregnancy.

You may experience highly vivid and sometimes frightening dreams or nightmares, often involving events related to pregnancy or your baby. It is also thought that pregnant women experience a greater number of dreams than usual. 

These sorts of dreams are a normal experience during pregnancy, but they could also adversely affect your sleep quality or cause you to wake up suddenly, gradually leading to third trimester insomnia.

The likely causes of this are hormonal changes, and the many worries, thoughts and emotions that you are going through as you near the end of your pregnancy. If your dreams are disturbing your sleep, perhaps you could try discussing them with someone, and try not to dwell on any nightmares that are stuck in your mind.

How to Improve Insomnia During The Third Trimester

  • Try to stay active. Exercising during the day is well known to improve your sleep, and will carry other benefits for you during your pregnancy as well. However, there are things that should be considered if you are starting to exercise while pregnant, especially if you are in the third trimester, and if you do not usually exercise a lot. Exercise should be perfectly safe for you and your baby, but do not do anything too strenuous that wears you out much. You should try to keep to light exercise that does not make you out of breath, such as walking, yoga or swimming. Remember that any amount of exercise is better than none, and you should certainly see benefits to your sleep if you keep at it.
  • Try to establish good sleep habits and a schedule. Try to be as active as is comfortable during the day (even a walk would be sufficient), avoid meals close to bedtime, and avoid drinking much caffeine, as not only can it disturb your sleep, but consuming too much of it can also be harmful during your pregnancy. You should try to create a consistent sleep schedule, where you wake up and go to bed at similar times each day, and try to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. You could also try having a sleep friendly routine before bed, by doing relaxing activities such as reading, taking a relaxing shower or bath or listening to music. You should avoid your phone and other device screens, as these emit blue light that could disturb your sleep.
  • Give up and do something else for a while if you cannot sleep. If you have spent a while laying in bed and trying to sleep without success, it may be best for you to give up for a while and do another activity, preferably something relaxing, and then try again. Try to avoid looking at any device screens, however, as looking at the blue light that these emit will make it even harder to get to sleep.
  • If you are having issues with heartburn, remember these tips: Try to eat healthier meals and spread them throughout the day, eating smaller meals rather than a lot at once. Try to avoid caffeinated and/or fizzy drinks. You should also avoid eating in the evening after dinner, especially right before bed, as lying down immediately after eating can trigger the symptoms. Once in bed, try to find a way to raise your head and upper body up slightly to help prevent stomach acid from rising up. If these tips do not improve your symptoms, you should consider speaking to your healthcare provider, as they should be able to provide medication to ease the symptoms.
  • A little-known SECRET: sleeping with a weighted blanket can help you mitigate most of the causes of third trimester insomnia! A weighted blanket has a calming and relaxing effect similar to a hug, this helps to naturally melt away stress and anxiety, allowing your body to fully relax and promoting a good night’s sleep. Weighted blankets for adults have a therapeutic effect that helps you to naturally release tension and fall asleep more easily. Many women ask if they can use a weighted blanket while pregnant: weighted blankets are safe to use during pregnancy and can be an amazing tool to help you get rid of third trimester insomnia!

Lastly, one of the most important things you can do when you have insomnia is to try not to worry about it.

This may seem easier said than done, and sleep is of course very important, but if you worry too much about your sleep it can become a large source of unnecessary stress. Be assured that your problems with insomnia are almost certainly temporary, and with time and attention they will improve and you will be able to sleep well again.

Postpartum Insomnia

Unfortunately, even after pregnancy has ended it is still possible to continue to experience insomnia related to it, and it may even be worse than it was previously. 

There are various reasons why postpartum insomnia happens. Becoming a parent can be difficult sometimes, and the first few months after the birth are particularly testing.

Taking care of a newborn child often involves waking up in the night whenever your baby needs you and being forced to adjust your sleeping schedule around them, disrupting your sleep.

On top of that, you will probably have many worries about them, such as whether they are healthy, and how to keep them safe, among other fears. Another likely factor in postpartum sleeplessness could be hormone levels, which rapidly change following birth. 

While you adjust to all of the new changes in your life, make sure you take some time, when you have the chance, to take care of yourself and relax.


Hopefully, this article has shed light on why third trimester insomnia occurs, as well as postpartum insomnia, and how you can take steps to improve it.

Tiredness may be a normal part of being pregnant, especially in the third trimester.

But if the tips above for better sleep do not have much of a beneficial effect and a lack of quality sleep is taking its toll on you, you should consult your healthcare providers for advice so that you can find better relief.