Why Is Morning Sickness Worse at Night?

By Erica Loop
Getting more rest can help ease your nighttime sickness.
Getting more rest can help ease your nighttime sickness.

Morning sickness is a misleading name for many pregnant women. Even though you may feel nauseous or vomit in the morning, you can just as easily feel sick later in the day. For some pregnant women, the symptoms of morning sickness actually increase at night. If you’re experiencing an upswing in pregnancy-related nausea in the evening hours, understanding nighttime morning sickness can help decrease your discomfort.

Possible Causes

Pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting are common during the first trimester. Morning sickness affects more than 50 percent of women, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Rising levels of the pregnancy hormone HCG is thought to be the culprit behind this common condition, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The root of your nighttime sickness is likely similar to the causes of daytime or early morning sickness. However, added fatigue at night may make your nausea worse. Likewise, certain smells -- such as dinner cooking -- may amp up your rocky feeling. Another possible cause of nighttime nausea is trying to sleep after eating. While you might feel like crawling into bed immediately after dinner, doing so may make your morning sickness worse.

Nighttime Remedies

While a full meal followed by bedtime may cause nightly morning sickness to feel worse, eating small meals may soothe your nausea. Eating bland foods, such as crackers or dry toast, may help to steady your stomach. Remember, if you lie down right after eating, you run the risk of making the matter worse. Before heading to bed, try sipping a ginger herbal tea. This tea is known for helping nausea and vomiting, according to the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. You can make your own teas or buy ready-made bags.

Sleep Solutions

Whether you’ve been at work all day long or at home with the kids, the exhaustive combination of pregnancy and a rough day can multiply your morning sickness. Being overtired can make your nausea worse, notes the Utah Department of Health. If your busy day is making you feel sick, take a break. You can proactively head off the possibility of nighttime sickness by resting during the day. Take an afternoon nap or make a point of sitting down to relax. If these aren’t possibilities with your hectic schedule, set an early bedtime for yourself. Nix dinner plans with pals or ask your partner to put the kids to bed. Turn off all electronic devices -- such as your cell phone, laptop and tablet -- at least an hour before bedtime. This allows you to wind down, relax, stop working and get ready to sleep.

Excessive Nighttime Sickness

If you’ve tried small, bland snacks, started drinking herbal teas and have gone to bed early every night but are still feeling sick, you need to consult a professional. Even though nausea at night isn’t worse than daytime morning sickness, when it gets out of hand you need to seek expert help. Excessive nausea and vomiting at night, or any time of the day for that matter, can lead to a serious condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, which can result in electrolyte imbalances and severe dehydration. Your doctor can recommend a medical course of treatment such as adding vitamins or supplements or giving you intravenous fluids. If you’re not sure if your nightly sickness is normal, call your doctor or midwife for a consultation.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.