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Problems sleeping during pregnancy

Prenatal care - sleeping; Pregnancy care - sleeping

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You may sleep well during the first trimester. You may also need more sleep than usual. Your body is working hard to make a baby. So you will tire easily. But later in your pregnancy, you may have a hard time sleeping well.

Why is it Hard to Sleep During Pregnancy?

Your baby is growing bigger, which can make it hard to find a good sleeping position. If you have always been a back- or stomach-sleeper, you might have trouble getting used to sleeping on your side (as health care providers recommend). Also, shifting around in bed becomes harder as you get bigger.

Other things that may keep you from sleeping include:

How can I get Comfortable?

Try sleeping on your side. Lying on your side with your knees bent will likely be the most comfortable position. It makes it easier for your heart to pump because it keeps the baby from putting pressure on the large vein that carries blood back to the heart from your legs.

Many providers tell pregnant women to sleep on the left side. Sleeping on the left side also improves blood flow among the heart, fetus, uterus, and kidneys. It also keeps pressure off your liver. If your left hip becomes too uncomfortable, it is OK to switch to your right side for a while. It is best not to sleep flat on your back.

Try using pillows under your belly or between your legs. Also, using a bunched-up pillow or rolled-up blanket at the small of your back may relieve some pressure. You can also try an egg crate type of mattress on your side of the bed to give some relief for sore hips. It also helps to have extra pillows available to support your body.

More Sleeping Tips

These tips will safely improve your chances of getting a good night's sleep.

If stress or anxiety about becoming a parent is keeping you from getting a good night's sleep, try:

Can I Take Anything to Help me Sleep?

Do not take any sleep aids. This includes over-the-counter medicines and herbal products. They are not recommended for pregnant women. Do not take any medicines for any reason without talking to your provider.

References

Antony KM, Racusin DA, Aagaard K, Dildy GA. Maternal physiology. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 3.

Balserak BI, Lee KA. Sleep and sleep disorders associated with pregnancy. In: Kryger M, Roth T, Dement WC, eds. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 156.

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Review Date: 6/2/2020  

Reviewed By: LaQuita Martinez, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Alpharetta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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