pregnant woman asleep in bed

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Sleep during pregnancy: what you should know

Women who sleep less than 6 hours a night during pregnancy tend to have longer labors and are 4.5 times more likely to deliver their babies via C-section, which leads to a longer recuperation time for them. But it can be tough to achieve deep Zs due to discomfort, a frequent urge to urinate, and general aches and pains.

In addition to these physical issues, many women have stress-related obstacles regarding their babies’ health, delivery, and parenting that keep them tossing and turning.

Sleep position

Many of these problems can be solved with a good sleeping position. Healthcare providers recommend sleeping on your left side so that the baby's weight applies less pressure to the inferior vena cava, which carries blood from the feet and legs to the heart. Additionally, lying on your left side keeps the uterus off the liver and improves circulation to the fetus and kidneys.

Moving around during sleep is perfectly natural, but a shift in position that puts pressure on these vital organs or blood vessels could be enough to wake you up. As the pregnancy progresses, you will probably be moving around less due to your increased size and discover that sleeping on your side is most comfortable.

Feel free to play around with pillow placement - perhaps you’ll find it easier to fall asleep with a pillow between your legs or under your lower back.

Getting to sleep

To get on a good sleep schedule, make sure you eliminate caffeinated drinks as much as possible, particularly in the late afternoon and evening. In fact, eating or drinking a lot within a few hours of bedtime could keep you up or contribute to nausea. Try to wind down with relaxing activities, like yoga, meditation, or a warm bath.

When it comes to anxiety, the best solution can be expanding your knowledge regarding childbirth and parenting. Try enrolling in a class to help ease your fears and get to know other pregnant women with similar concerns.


Even with all these good habits, there are bound to be times when you just can’t sleep. This can be attributed to a complex combination of hormones and conditions ranging from leg cramps to heartburn. Symptoms in the first trimester include frequent nighttime urination and fatigue that should persuade you to take one or more daily catnaps.

The second trimester should be a bit easier in terms of sleep, with a slower rise in progesterone and less pressure on the bladder. Other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, constipation, and an irregular heartbeat are common and likely to interfere with sleep in the third trimester. Whatever the reason, get out of bed if you’re having trouble sleeping and listen to calm music or read a magazine.

Most importantly, don’t worry! Interrupted sleep during pregnancy is natural, and with a good bedtime routine, healthy eating, and a comfortable sleeping environment, you will be having sweet dreams in no time.

Reviewed by Dr. Jamie Lo
Read more
  • Chakradhar Venkata, MD and Saiprakash B. Venkateshiah, MD. "Sleep-Disordered Breathing During Pregnancy." Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. vol. 22 no. 2 158-168. Web. March-April 2009.
  • University of California- San Francisco. "Inadequate sleep in late pregnancy may influence labor and delivery." EurekaAlert. EurekaAlert, 12/15/2004. Web.
  • "Pregnancy & Sleep." National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web.
  • "Sleeping By The Trimesters." Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web.
  • "Problems sleeping during pregnancy." U.S National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus, 6/11/2014. Web.
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