10 Pregnancy Sleep Tips

It's harder to sleep when you're pregnant, but it's so important!

Pregnant woman asleep in bed.

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During pregnancy, it's not uncommon to have trouble with sleep—falling asleep, staying asleep, and having restful sleep. Not surprisingly, pregnancy sleep disturbances are often the result of your changing, growing body, which can make getting comfortable a real challenge.

Overview

Common causes of pregnancy sleep woes include hormonal fluctuations, stress, and a host of typical physical discomforts such as acid reflux, rib pain, or a squirmy baby. Additionally, some women have trouble drifting off if their preferred sleep position is on their back, which becomes off-limits in later pregnancy to ensure your growing uterus doesn't impede proper blood flow.

Also, as your pregnancy progresses, you may find it more difficult to find a comfortable position to stay in for very long. Plus, you may have to get up several times during the night to empty your increasingly cramped bladder. Or you may jolt awake if your baby kicks you right in the ribs or you get a leg cramp.

But take heart, while your slumber likely won't become completely problem-free, there are many effective ways to improve your pregnancy sleep.

10 Pregnancy Sleep Tips

Read our tips below to get the critical rest your body and mind need during this time.

Drink Early

Keeping hydrated is super important during pregnancy to support your growing body and increasing blood volume. However, taking in too much liquid can make you need to go to the bathroom—a lot. A happy medium is to drink plenty of fluids during the day but cut down before bedtime to minimize nighttime urination.

If you do need to get up at night to use the bathroom (or adjust your body into a more comfortable position), aim to keep lights low and conversation to a minimum to aid you in drifting back off to sleep.

Keep Moving

Regular exercise is important during pregnancy to keep you healthy, fit, and mobile—and working out promotes better sleep. In fact, a wealth of studies show a positive connection between exercise and sleep. Exercise also has the added benefit of improving circulation, which may reduce nighttime leg cramps. The only caveat is you may want to avoid exercising late in the evening, as physical activity releases adrenaline, which can keep you awake at night.

Reduce Stress

Pregnant or not, stress, anxiety, and mood swings can be key culprits in preventing a good night's sleep. Aim to calm your mind (and body) with whatever relaxes you, such as yoga, listening to music, taking a bath, walking around the block, sex, or stretching.

Remember that worrying won't help you, but talking about your concerns likely will. Find a friend or a professional who can listen and help if there are issues in your life (or pregnancy) that are causing you to feel upset or worried.

Get Into a Routine

If you establish a consistent, soothing, and comforting evening routine, you'll likely be able to relax and drift off to sleep with more ease. As bedtime approaches, try a few soothing rituals like drinking a cup of caffeine-free tea or hot milk, reading a chapter of a pleasant book, taking a warm shower using fragrant shower gel, getting a shoulder massage, or having your hair gently brushed.

The key is to do the same routine each night to cue your body that it's time to sleep.

Get Into Position

During the third trimester, sleep on your left side to allow for the best blood flow to your baby and your uterus and kidneys. As noted above, it's important to avoid lying flat on your back for a long period of time, as this position can restrict blood flow. Additionally, a few months into your pregnancy, sleeping on your stomach won't be an option either, as the position will begin to feel like lying down on top of a cantaloupe—or later on, a watermelon.

Keep Heartburn at Bay

Heartburn is very common in pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. In fact, studies show that anywhere from 17% to 45% or more of pregnant women regularly experience this gastrointestinal discomfort.

To prevent heartburn, don't recline until at least one to two hours after a meal. If heartburn is a regular problem, try sleeping with your head elevated on pillows. Also, avoid spicy, acidic (such as tomato products), or fried foods, as they often worsen symptoms.

Nap During the Day

If you're not getting enough rest at night, consider taking a nap during the day to help reduce fatigue. Find a quiet spot and relax, even if only for a half-hour nap. Since many pregnant women already experience fragmented sleep due to frequent nighttime wakings, daytime naps offer a good way to make up lost hours of rest.

Support Your Body

Use a special pregnancy body pillow or a regular pillow (or two) to support your body. Try out various positions with and without pillow support to find the most comfortable set-ups for your changing body. Many people find it optimal to sleep on their side with one pillow under their knees or between their legs and another under the belly.

Watch Your Diet

Try completely eliminating (or cutting way back on) caffeine to prevent sleep disruptions. (Hopefully, you're already avoiding alcohol.) If nausea is a problem, try eating frequent bland snacks, like crackers, throughout the day. Keeping your stomach slightly full (but not stuffed) helps keep nausea at bay.

Eat a well-balanced diet without too many heavy or fried foods. Not only is this important for you and your baby's health, but getting the necessary nutrients will help keep you feeling satisfied but not overly full—and less prone to nighttime hunger or stomach aches that may contribute to restlessness and insomnia when you go to sleep.

Get Help

If you've tried all of the above options but still aren't getting the sleep you need, seek advice from your health care provider. Your doctor can determine what specific issues may be interfering with your sleep and can offer more solutions tailored to your needs. Also, if needed, in cases of prolonged or severe sleep disturbance, they can prescribe sleeping pills that are safe to take in pregnancy.

A Word From Verywell

Just because trouble sleeping is a common discomfort of pregnancy doesn't mean you need to simply grin and bear it. Instead, experiment with the remedies above to get the most restful sleep your pregnant self can manage. Solutions are out there, so seek help if you can't get the sleep you crave on your own. Now more than ever, it's important to get the rest you need.

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