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A to Zzz: What You Need to Know About Sleep and Pregnancy

Are you feeling sleepy yet? For most women, pregnancy can cause serious sleep issues. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 78% of women report more disturbed sleep during pregnancy than at other times.


Generally, during your first and third trimester, you may feel more fatigued than usual. Considering the emotional and physical changes your body is going through, it’s no wonder you’re wiped out! It’s important for pregnant women to make sleep a priority and find ways to combat sleep problems.


What Affects Sleep During Pregnancy?

  • Changes in your hormones can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and even sleep apnea.
  • Waking due to the discomforts of pregnancy like nausea and bathroom breaks can negatively affect your sleep.

Common Sleep Problems Experienced During Pregnancy

  • Insomnia: described as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up too early and not feeling refreshed
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS): unpleasant feelings in the legs, sometimes described as tingly or achy; these feelings can be worse at night or in the hours before bed
  • Sleep apnea: a sleep disorder where breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep
  • Nocturnal gastroesophageal reflux (nighttime GERD): also known as heartburn, is considered a normal part of pregnancy; nighttime GERD can damage the esophagus and disrupt sleep
  • Frequent nighttime urination: the increased and frequent need to urinate at night can cause a loss of sleep

Did you know that sleep could affect your labor?


Studies from the University of California found that women who slept less than 6 hours each night had longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have c-sections. Talk to your doctor about how much sleep you need. After all, you are sleeping for two!

Because many prescribed medications are not recommended for women who are pregnant, the treatment of some common sleep problems is challenging. Sleeping well through pregnancy is challenging, but there are a few ways to cope and help minimize your loss of sleep:


  • Plan your sleep. Make it a priority! Add naps early in the day, if necessary.
  • Unless otherwise recommended by your doctor, try to get 30 minutes of exercise each day.
  • Change positions. Sleep on your left side to improve the flow of blood and nutrients to your baby, your uterus, and your kidneys. An ideal position is on your left side with your knees and hips bent. Place pillows between your knees, under your belly, and behind your back. Avoid lying on your belly for extended periods of time.
  • Drink lots of water during the day, but cut down on your water intake before bed.
  • To avoid heartburn, cut down the amount of spicy, acidic, or fried foods you eat. Also, try eating more frequent, small meals throughout the day.
  • If you can’t sleep, get up. Don’t force sleep. Try reading a book, knitting, or taking a warm bath to relax your body and mind.
  • Keep a nightlight in your bathroom. When you get up throughout the night, you won’t have to turn on the light, further jarring your body out of its regular sleep pattern.

Each trimester, your body is changing as your baby grows. And your sleep schedule will too. Here are a few things to expect during each trimester:


  1. First trimester. When it comes to sleeping, you may have trouble getting comfortable, have to get up for frequent bathroom breaks, and you’ll want to nap. Best ways to combat this are to make sleep a priority, and nap early in the day, if possible.
  2. Second trimester. You’ll likely sleep better, so get into a good groove and switch to sleeping on your side, if possible. Exercising regularly can help aid in sleeping through the night.
  3. Third trimester. You may notice you’re waking more at night than usual, and you have fewer instances of deep sleep. Your bladder is under a lot of pressure in your third trimester so expect more bathroom breaks nightly. Heartburn, leg cramps, and snoring can also affect your sleep during this time.

Sleep is important to the growth of your baby and your health. Talk to your doctor about recommended amounts of sleep and ways to combat any symptoms that you may be experiencing.


Share your tips for getting a better night’s sleep while pregnant with us!