Sleeping problems during pregnancy

There’s no question that pregnancy comes along with a lot of bodily changes: weight gain, swelling hands and feet, stretch marks, back pain … the list goes on.

Not only does pregnancy affect your physical appearance, but it also interferes with your normal everyday activities. 

Something that we all hold near and dear to our hearts is sleep! The unfortunate reality is that sleep is no exception to the things that will undergo change while you’re pregnant.

Many pregnant women have reported a change in their sleeping patterns during their term. As we know, a big part of sleeping is dreaming - and although the dreaming definitely does not go away, it will change when you’re pregnant. 

Women who are expecting a child usually notice changes in the types of dreams they have during their pregnancy. Some types of dreams that you may start to notice are nightmares, anxiety based, vivid dreams, as well as more frequent dreaming.

Bizarre and intense dreams are very common during pregnancy. This can be very scary for any woman because the events that take place in the dream feel very real to them. Rest assured, these intense dreams are normal and they are usually a representation of your anxieties about becoming a mother.

Dreaming During Pregnancy

We know that crazy and weird dreams are common among pregnant women. Many women also say that they remember more of their dreams during their pregnancy, especially those who don’t usually remember them. 

Research shows that dreams are a reflection of our subconscious thoughts as a way for us to work through whatever is on our mind. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the dreams that pregnant women have are usually related to their pregnancy or their baby. 

You may notice that your dreams consist of different things like giving birth to your child, the sex of your baby, or even raising your baby. 

While all these things sound fun and exciting, there are times where pregnancy dreams can be quite scary. Many mothers-to-be experience nightmares that are related to labor and delivery, or even dreaming about something bad happening to their baby or the father of the baby.

When Do These Dreams Occur?

What you dream about usually depends on where you’re at during your pregnancy, oddly enough. 

First trimester: During your early pregnancy, it is very common for pregnant women to have “fertility imagery” which is when you dream about water, flowers, and fruits. These dreams can either be peaceful or scary.

Second trimester: During the second trimester, it is likely that your dreams will represent the changes that are occurring in your body. 

Third trimester: In the third trimester, women start dreaming about their babies, family, or partner. Relationships and people who are close to you may come up in your dreams during this time.

Interestingly enough, dream images slowly start to go away toward the end of a woman’s pregnancy, before she gives birth to her baby. This could possibly be because there is less fetal movement going on at this time. 

Why Are You Having Intense Dreams?

Some people may experience very vivid and intense dreams which are accompanied by powerful, intense emotions that feel like reality. 

Some women think they dream more during pregnancy but this isn’t always true. The reality is that you’re just more likely to remember your dreams during pregnancy. 

The changes that you start to notice in your dreams are due to the hormonal changes in your body not only affecting your day to day life but also your sleep pattern. Not only do your pregnancy hormones change your body, but it affects your dreams as well. 

Dreaming occurs during rapid eye movement (REM), typically at the end of each sleep cycle. By the time morning comes, you have gone through a few REM cycles but will forget your dream several hours after each cycle creating the feeling of not remembering your dream. 

However, as an expecting mother you will experience less REM sleep overall due to an unpredictable sleep schedule and interruptions during your sleep. Waking up to go to the bathroom, or being uncomfortable will lead to less REM sleep. If you’re awakened during the REM stage of sleep, you are therefore more likely to remember your dream. This creates the illusion that your dream is very vivid, fresh, and real when you wake up. 

Is it Normal?

Having more frequent dreams, and having dreams that are intense, vivid, and life-like are very normal during pregnancy. 

You have to remember that your body is constantly changing. Entering the late stages of your pregnancy will only increase the levels of progesterone in your body, and may increase the vivid dreams at night. Your hormones will cause a wave of emotions during the day, but will also play a huge role in your sleeping pattern. 

Sleeping Tips:

Even though these changes during your pregnancy are normal and experienced by many, there are some tips to improve your sleep quality.

Tips to improve your sleep quality during your pregnancy include:

  • Having a relaxing bedtime routine
  • Sticking to a consistent sleeping schedule (ex. 8 hours every night)
  • Avoiding caffeine in the evening
  • Sleeping on your left side to help reduce disruptions to your sleep
  • Avoid using electronics before bedtime 
  • Track your dreams using a journal 
  • Talk to a doctor or therapist if your dream is having a serious impact on your health

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