Categories: Sleep Science

How to Sleep During Pregnancy

It’s comes as no surprise that the physical discomfort and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can wreak havoc on a woman’s quality of sleep. And if you are experiencing disturbed sleep during pregnancy you’re not alone; 78 percent of women indicated problems sleeping during pregnancy in a National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll. Moreover, while your body is growing your bundle of joy, you’re likely to have sleep changes during all three trimesters of your pregnancy, according to the NSF.

Sleep Changes During the First Trimester of Pregnancy

In the first trimester of pregnancy, you’re likely to be awakened frequently at night because you need to go to the bathroom. You may also have problems sleeping because of the emotional changes that you may be experiencing by being pregnant, including being excited or worrying about the health of your baby.

Sleep Changes During the Second Trimester of Pregnancy

For many women, the second trimester offers the least sleep problems of all three trimesters of pregnancy. For one thing, nighttime urination is less of a problem for obtaining a good night’s sleep in the second trimester, thanks to the baby’s location causing less pressure on your bladder. Still, emotional issues and stress can impact your ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep.

Sleep Changes During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

You’ll likely experience your most challenging sleep issues during your third trimester. Not only will your growing belly make it more difficult for you to find a comfortable sleeping position, but the frequent nighttime urination you experienced in your first trimester — well, it’s back during your third trimester. Add that to leg cramps, sinus congestion, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS), back pain, and a bad case of nighttime heartburn (nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux – or GERD) and you have a perfect recipe for a bad night’s sleep.

How to Sleep During Pregnancy

Despite the physical changes of your body during pregnancy and the emotions running through you, it is possible to improve your quality of sleep as a mother-to-be. Here are a few tips on how to sleep during pregnancy.

  • Sleep on your side. According to the American Pregnancy Association, the best sleep position while pregnant is Sleep on Side, or SOS. Choose to lie on your left side as much as possible as it will increase both the amount of nutrients and blood that reaches your placenta and is carried to your baby. Sleeping on your side may also help reduce the nighttime heartburn you may be experiencing. Avoid sleeping on your back, unless your physician tells you otherwise. Obviously, sleeping on your stomach won’t be comfortable, especially as you progress further along in your pregnancy.
  • Place a pillow between your legs. Many pregnant women find that having their knees bent with a pillow between their legs helps them to feel most comfortable, particularly during the later stages of pregnancy.’
  • Consider a body or pregnancy pillow. A full-length body pillow or pregnancy wedge pillow provides support for your changing body, and helps many pregnant women find a more comfortable sleeping position. These types of pillows help to take pressure off of your lower back and can make you more comfortable.
  • Add a nightlight in your bathroom. If you find you are having to get up often during the night to use the bathroom, add a nightlight to your bathroom. You’ll be less aroused by a low light than by turning on a bright bathroom light.
  • Be mindful of your nutrition. Consider eating foods or drinking beverages that can help promote sleep, such as those listed here. A warm glass of milk may also help to relax you.
  • Consider a memory foam mattress or latex mattress. According to, many women swear by a memory foam toppers pad for support and comfort during pregnancy. Others couldn’t do without the full latex mattress experience.
  • Try relaxation techniques. If you find that your mind is occupied with a million thoughts about your upcoming delivery and baby, consider implementing a few relaxing techniques, such as writing in a sleep diary, performing yoga, doing deep breathing exercises, or enjoying a pregnancy massage.

Hopefully, one or more of these how to sleep during pregnancy techniques will help you get a better night’s sleep while growing your bundle of joy. But the most important thing to remember, is that any lost sleep will be so worth it once you first lay eyes on your new baby!

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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