Sleep Better During Pregnancy

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If you are pregnant, you probably hear your fair share of advice. One common tip? Get plenty of sleep because it will be in short supply when the baby comes. But sometimes getting enough z’s when you’re pregnant isn’t easy. That’s true even if you’ve never had problems sleeping before. So what’s going on?

Hormone Changes

During pregnancy, hormone levels change substantially. And these changes, while helping to grow a beautiful baby, can wreak havoc on your sleep. For example, rising levels of progesterone, a hormone necessary for maintaining pregnancy, can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness. This is especially true in the first trimester.

Elevated progesterone levels may also cause you to run to the bathroom more often. The hormone affects the muscles used to urinate. And frequent trips to the bathroom at night can rob you of precious sleep.

Pregnancy-Related Discomforts

Your body is changing in amazing ways to make way for baby. But these changes aren’t always comfortable. Tender breasts can make sleeping on your stomach in the early months more difficult. And a growing belly can make finding a comfortable sleeping position tricky.

You may also experience other common pregnancy-related discomforts, such as backaches, nausea and heartburn, which can keep you up at night.

Anxiety and Other Emotions

Thinking about your soon-to-come little one can be exciting, but it can also cause some anxiety. For example, some women may worry about labor and delivery, the logistics of work or child care, or their role as a mother. And this anxiety can keep a mom-to-be from peaceful sleep.

Tips for Better Sleep

Because many sleep medications can be harmful to baby, you shouldn’t rely on them to help you nod off. But there are steps you can take to help get the sleep you need. Try these tips:

  • Drink plenty of water during the day. But as bedtime draws near, begin to cut back. You don’t want extra reasons to run to the bathroom.

  • Get used to sleeping on your left side. It improves the flow of blood and nutrients to the fetus, your uterus, and your kidneys. To help, bend at the waist, and curl your knees. Place pillows between your knees, under your abdomen, and behind your back to support your body.

  • If you get heartburn at night, try eating smaller meals throughout the day. And avoid large portions of spicy and fried foods.

  • If you can’t sleep, don’t just lie there. Get up and read a book, take a bath, or find something to do that is relaxing.

  • Make sleep a priority. Realize the many demands on your body and take sleep seriously. If you have to, schedule it into your day. It’s important to know that sleep is no longer negotiable.

  • Unless your doctor has told you not to, get some exercise each day. Not only can it improve sleep, but it can also help manage other pregnancy-related symptoms, such as leg cramps, which can keep you up at night.

If you continue to suffer from poor sleep, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to safely treat pregnancy-related conditions that are keeping you from getting the z’s you need.

Key Takeaways

  • When you’re pregnant, getting plenty of sleep is good for you and your baby. But sometimes getting sleep can be tough, and the reasons for this are many.

  • Natural hormone changes in your body can wreak havoc on your sleep and the physical changes you go through can make getting rest difficult.

  • You can take steps to help your body get the sleep it needs. Some tips include sleeping on your left side, cutting back on water consumption close to bedtime, and getting some exercise each day.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Dec 4

  1. Sleeping by the trimesters: 1st trimester, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 21, 2014 (

  2. Sleeping by the trimesters: 2nd trimester, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 21, 2014 (

  3. Sleeping by the trimesters: 3rd trimester, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 21, 2014 (

  4. Sleep tips for pregnant women, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 21, 2014 (

  5. Pregnancy and sleep, National Sleep Foundation, Accessed October 21, 2014 (

  6. Pregnancy: body changes and discomforts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed October 28, 2014 (

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