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8 Tips for Better Sleep When You’re Pregnant

Get a good night’s sleep with these tips.

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Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Pregnant women in their first trimester need a few more hours on top of that. That’s because during those first few months, your body is working overtime to nurture your developing baby.

It’s normal to feel tired and sleep more than usual during the early stages of pregnancy. But it’s just as normal to have trouble getting enough sleep later on —especially in those last months of your pregnancy.

Why is it so hard for me to sleep?

There are a number of reasons your pregnancy can keep you from a good, deep sleep. First, it can be hard to find a comfortable sleeping position — especially as your baby grows.

You might also feel the frequent urge to urinate as pressure on your bladder increases. You may have to go more at night if your baby is especially active then.

Other physical symptoms of pregnancy that can keep you up include increased heart rate, shortness of breath, leg cramps, backaches, heartburn and constipation. Stress can interfere with your sleep, too.

How can I make falling asleep easier?

Try these tips for getting a good night's sleep:

  • Don’t drink beverages right before bedtime and cut out caffeinated drinks as often as you can.
  • Avoid meals close to bedtime,  especially if heartburn is a problem. Do not lie in a reclining position within two hours of eating.
  • Get into the routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Use pillows where needed: between your legs, under your belly or behind your back, wherever feels good. You can even buy special “pregnancy” pillows.
  • Relax before bedtime, however you like to. You could try taking a warm bath, for example.
  • Sleep on your left side. This allows for better blood flow to your heart.
  • If a leg cramp wakes you up, stand on that leg or press your feet hard against the wall. And make sure you’re getting enough calcium in your diet.
  • If anxiety is keeping you up, ask yourself what you’re afraid of and deal with the cause. Signing up for childbirth or parenting classes may help ease your anxieties.

Just don’t take sleep medications. You should not take any medications, even over-the-counter drugs, without talking to your doctor first.

By Lucy M. Casale, Contributing Writer

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to month. 6th ed. Washington, DC: ACOG; 2015.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Brain basics: Understanding sleep. Accessed: June 29, 2016. Sleeping during pregnancy. Accessed: June 29, 2016.

Last Updated: June 29, 2016