How to Sleep When Pregnant: A Complete Guide

There isn’t a whole lot that’s harder than being pregnant. Sure, it’s awesome that there’s a new life growing inside of you. But you’re also miserable and in a lot of discomfort for most of the day.

Plus, you could be carrying as much as 30 pounds of extra weight around.

But daytime isn’t the only time that you experience pregnancy woes, is it? Night time can be worse. There’s nothing you need more during pregnancy than a good sleep, and it seems like that’s the one thing that’s completely evading you.

According to a survey by the National Sleep Foundation, four out of five women have trouble sleeping during pregnancy. And that’s in addition to the constant need to bee, heartburn, nausea, back pain, cramps, RLS, and everything else associated with your growing belly.

If you’re looking for just a little more sleep during your pregnancy, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve written this handy guide on how to sleep when pregnant, no matter how pregnant you are.

The First Trimester

Sleep is probably easiest during the first trimester of pregnancy. But by now, you’ve probably found out that the “morning” part of “morning sickness” is a dirty, dirty lie.

On top of nausea, you’re also dealing with aches and pains, tender breasts, and constant trips to the bathroom. This makes it almost impossible to fall asleep.

Your body is doing some pretty incredible stuff right now, and along with that comes changes and hormones and an expanding uterus. But it’s not hopeless. Here are some things you can try to get some rest in the first trimester.

Cut Down on Caffeine and Fluids Before Bed

It’s a golden rule for pregnancy, to begin with, but it’s worth repeating: you should cut down on your caffeine. One cup of the full octane stuff in the morning and then cut the rest out. Even decaf coffee still has caffeine, so switch to water if you can.

This is especially true for afternoons and evenings. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking anything a few hours before you go to bed. You’ll still probably get up to pee, but you’ll keep it to a minimum.

Keep Snacks at Hand

Empty stomachs make nausea absolutely terrible. Keep crackers on your nightstand to keep midnight morning sickness at bay.

If you’re craving a little more, get up and prepare something that will make you sleep. Protein-rich foods like dairy, peanut butter, and eggs contain tryptophan, the substance that gives turkey its sleep-inducing fame.

These foods also increase serotonin production, which boots your mood, which is a bonus.

Keep Active

If you can, do something to keep yourself active every day. If you’re walking a few miles or doing something that requires a lot of energy, you might not need much effort to fall asleep at night.

Think about tracking your steps on a pedometer and doing a little extra exercise. But make sure to do it in the morning, because exercising in the evening can promote insomnia.

Power Down

When it gets close to bedtime, dim the lights and relax in bed with a book or magazine. A glass of warm milk, if it tickles your fancy, is a good idea too.

An hour before your downtime, cut off electronics. No TV, tablet, or phone! This will help you fall asleep faster.

The Second Trimester

Usually, the second trimester is like the eye of the storm in terms of sleeping during pregnancy. While you might be tired, you should sleep better in this trimester.

By this time, morning sickness has abided and your hormones have started to even out a bit, making sleep much more attainable.

There are still some sleep issues that could pop up though.

Digestion

While morning sickness might be in the past, horrible heartburn is in town now. At this stage of pregnancy, your uterus is growing rapidly and pushing up on your stomach. And all that acid has to go somewhere, right?

Eat your biggest meal early in the day and don’t lie down right after you eat. This will keep your acid at bay.

Snoring

There’s a study that showed that 25% of women who never snored before start snoring during pregnancy. No one is quite sure why this is, but you can combat that issue with nasal strips to open those passages to get you breathing better at night.

Leg Cramps

This is about the time in pregnancy that you will start to experience leg cramps or that weird crawly sensation in your legs. This is known as RLS or restless leg syndrome.

There are studies that say that some vitamin deficiencies will result in these sorts of cramps. So try to incorporate iron, folate, calcium, and magnesium into your diet.

If you feel that this deficiency is something you need supplements for, talk to your doctor.

It might be a good idea to stretch and massage your legs before bed as well.

Vivid Dreams and Nightmares

A lot of women say they get bizarre dreams and nightmares while they are pregnant. These dreams can be chalked up to hormones and anxiety. It’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed at the thought of being a mom to a new baby, whether you’re a first-time mom or not.

Your dreams are your body’s attempt at working out problems. Try writing them down in a journal while they’re fresh in your mind and talk about them with someone you trust to get rid of some of that stress.

Third Trimester

This is the time that sleeping becomes very difficult. The constant need to pee comes back with a vengeance and your back is killing you. You’re carrying around a bowling ball in your stomach and you just can’t get comfortable.

Snoring will likely get a lot worse and it will become harder to breathe as the baby puts more pressure on your lungs.

But we’re not done yet!

This is when your leg cramps and RLS gets worse, too. Top that all off with the fact that you’re probably just sick of being pregnant and you’ve got a while hurricane of annoyance on your hands.

By the end of your pregnancy, you can expect to wake up at least three times per night on a good night.

As hard as it might sound, you still have to try to get as much rest as you can. Women who don’t have as much sleep could have longer labors and a higher risk of c-section.

Nap

If sleeping at night gets more difficult, try to nap during the day if you can. Just a short nap during the day can make you more alert and reduce your fatigue.

Just a 20-minute snooze will help. But try not to nap for more than 30 minutes, because you will wake up feeling groggy and weird.

Lots and Lots and Lots of Pillows

The days of one or two pillows to rest your pretty head on are long gone.

It’s a good idea to use many pillows of varying sizes to prop up the parts that are hurting you. IF you’re having back pain, a couple of pillows under your upper body could help. This could work for heartburn and breathing problems as well.

For hip pain, place a pillow between your knees to take the pressure off of your hips. A pillow under your stomach while sleeping on your side will relieve your torso of all that weight. Also, elevate your legs with a few pillows to alleviate swollen ankles.

There are even special pregnancy pillows out there that could help. Just remember that they’re huge, so if your bed doesn’t have room for three, your partner might have to hang onto the edge to stay in bed.

A regular old body pillow or a rolled up blanket could work too, but only if you’re lucky. It’s a good idea to invest in pillows of all sizes.

Sleep Position

Depending on your own specific needs, you should try a few different things. You might need a new sleeping position or maybe even a new place altogether if your bed just isn’t cutting it.

Many moms find out that sleeping sitting up on the couch or recliner is better during the last few weeks of pregnancy especially.

SOS!

The American Pregnancy Association says that the best way to sleep during pregnancy is “SOS” or sleep on side. Stick to your left side, if you can, because that increases the blood and nutrients that get to your baby.

Stomach and Back Sleeping

If you’re a stomach sleeper, you’re not entirely out of luck. Experts agree that sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy is safe. But, as your stomach grows, you’re not going to be able to keep that up.

There are special donut-shaped pillows that allow you to tuck your bump away while you snooze.

However, sleeping on your back isn’t the best option. It puts a lot of extra pressure on the blood vessels that run behind your abdomen and get blood to your heart from your legs and feet. You can slow blood circulation this way.

Still Not Sure How to Sleep When Pregnant?

While we hope this guide helped you figure out how to sleep when pregnant, not everyone’s body works exactly the same. You might feel like passing out, but try not to stress out. It’s not going to hurt your baby. But worrying about sleep probably will. Judge your sleep by how you feel, not how long you’re in bed.

If you’ve tried it all and you still can’t sleep, get up and move around. It’s better than just laying there stressing out over your insomnia.

For more ticks and trips on getting better sleep, visit us today!

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