Sleeping During Pregnancy

Dated 01 June 2016
Sleeping During Pregnancy


During pregnancy, inadequate sleep is a common complain made by women, mostly, due to the result of anxiety and stress, hormonal fluctuations, and physical discomfort. As your pregnancy progresses, you may find it more difficult to find a comfortable position, or you may have to get up several times during the night to empty your increasingly cramped bladder.

Causes of inadequate sleep

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom- In early pregnancy and late pregnancy when the bladder is compressed by the baby. Especially during your first trimester, when the sleep-inducing hormone progesterone starts surging through your body, and pressure on your bladder from your growing uterus sends you scurrying to the bathroom countless times every night.
  • Heartburn- Usually occurs in the second trimester and is another cause for sleep disturbance. The uterus pushes up against your organs causing pressure on the stomach. At times, stomach acid will back-flow into the esophagus causing heartburn.
  • Fetal Movement- Once the baby starts to kick and move about (usually around the 5th or 6th month) you may be awakened by a particularly feisty fetus.
  • Physical Discomfort- The bigger you get, the more difficult the task of finding a comfortable sleeping position. Your breasts may be sore in early pregnancy too.
    Emotional Worry- Many women feel such anxiety about their child that they lay awake in the wee hours of the morning thinking of all the things that could possibly happen. This is no time to focus on the bad, but the perfect opportunity to practice breathing and relaxation techniques you will need for birth.
  • Shortness of Breath- Shortness of breath may occur late in pregnancy before the baby has dropped into the pelvis. The uterus and baby are pushing upward into the rib cage making breathing in sitting and lying positions difficult. Again, try lying on your side or propping up your shoulders with pillows.
Sleeping During Pregnancy

Tips for a better Sleep

Check out these tips to get a better and more comfortable night's sleep, and the critical rest your body and mind need during this time.

  • Drink plenty of fluids during the day, but cut down before bedtime to minimize frequent nighttime urination.

  • Try lying in a semi upright position. Check with your doctor before taking antacids.

  • To prevent heartburn, don't recline until 1-2 hours after a meal. If heartburn is a problem, sleep with your head elevated on pillows. Also, avoid spicy, acidic (such as tomato products), or fried foods as they may worsen symptoms. Try a glass of milk or a change in sleeping position.

    Try positioning pillows behind your back and between your knees while lying on your side. Also available in some stores are the body pillow and the pregnancy wedge pillow.
  • Exercise regularly for optimum health, and to improve circulation. Avoid exercising late in the day-exercise releases adrenaline into your body which can keep you awake at night.
  • Stress and anxiety are key culprits in preventing a good night's sleep. Remember that worrying won't help you, but talking about your problems will. Find a friend or a professional who can listen and help you if there are issues in your life that are causing you to worry or feel upset.
  • If you're not getting enough rest at night, take a nap to help reduce fatigue. Find a quiet spot, and relax even if only for a half-hour nap.

    Support your body. Use a special pregnancy body pillow or a regular pillow to support your body. For comfort, try sleeping on your side with one pillow under your knee and another under your belly.

  • Completely eliminate caffeine and alcohol to prevent insomnia. If nausea is a problem for you, try eating frequent bland snacks (like crackers) throughout the day. Keeping your stomach slightly full helps keep nausea at bay. Eat a well-balanced diet. Not only is this crucial for you and your baby's health, but getting the necessary nutrients will help keep you feeling satisfied and less prone to major nighttime "snack attacks" that may contribute to restlessness and insomnia when you go to sleep.

    See your doctor for advice if insomnia persists. Now more than ever it's important to get the rest you need!
Sleeping During Pregnancy

What's the best sleep position during pregnancy?

Lying on your left side is actually good for you and your baby: It improves the flow of blood and nutrients to the placenta and it helps your kidneys efficiently eliminate waste products and fluids from your body. That, in turn, reduces swelling in your ankles, feet, and hands. If you train yourself to sleep on your left side early on, you'll have an easier time falling asleep when your belly is bulging later.

During the second half of pregnancy, avoid sleeping on your back, a position that puts the full weight of your uterus on your spine, back muscles, intestines, and the inferior vena cava. Back-sleeping can also put you at risk for backaches and hemorrhoids, inefficient digestion, and impaired breathing and circulation. Lying on your back in the second and third trimester can also cause changes in blood pressure. For some women, it can cause a drop in blood pressure that can make them feel dizzy; for others, it can cause an unwanted increase in blood pressure.