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How to Sleep When Pregnant: Your Guide to Good Sleep for Each Trimester

Roughly 50 percent of pregnant women experience a reduction in sleep quality, particularly in the last two trimesters. Even if you’ve never had trouble sleeping before, your go-to positions may no longer work. Find out what to do next.

Sleeping on the side - the best sleeping position in the first trimester

Sleeping while pregnant: first trimester

It’s quite a challenge to get a good night’s sleep in your first trimester of pregnancy for several reasons. Increased levels of progesterone, the discomfort of body changes, nausea, backaches, and frequent nighttime urination take their toll.

What is the best sleeping position in the first trimester?

Three little letters: SOS. It’s an acronym that stands for “sleep on your side.” In fact, favoring the left side of your body is even more beneficial as it increases the amount of blood and nutrients reaching your baby.

Laying on your stomach while sleeping

In contrast, laying on your stomach is one of the worst options as it produces lower back pain, and strains the neck muscles. Similarly, sleeping on your back is problematic since it forces your enlarged uterus to put pressure on the inferior vena cava. Both of these positions ultimately reduce blood flow to your fetus and trigger dizziness and nausea.

Tips for a good night’s sleep in the first trimester 

Promote restful sleep early in your pregnancy by adopting the following healthy habits:

  • Schedule and prioritize your sleep.
  • Sleep whenever you’re able to, taking daytime naps as needed.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (especially water) during the day, but reduce consumption close to bedtime.
  • Prevent nausea by sticking to bland foods (e.g., the BRATT diet of bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, and tea).
  • Learn to sleep on your side; it’ll come in handy after the 20th week of pregnancy.
  • Plug in a night-light so you can easily fall back to sleep after returning from a trip to the bathroom.

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Sleeping while pregnant: second trimester

Despite feeling slightly more well-adjusted during your second trimester, you could still be contending with sleep issues.

What is the best sleeping position in the second trimester?

Again, the SOS position is your safest bet. Turning to your left also has the added benefit of promoting kidney function and nourishing your placenta.

Enhance comfort by placing a pillow between your legs and bending at the knees. If you suffer from back pain, try slipping a pillow underneath your back and abdomen. This should relieve some pressure on your lower back.

What if you wake up on your right side or back?

Not to worry, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sleeping on your right side. Although it’s not recommended, sleeping on your back is unlikely to cause any serious trauma to your baby. Simply readjust and go back to sleep.

Tips for a good night’s sleep in the second trimester

Promote restful sleep at the halfway point of your pregnancy by adopting the following healthy habits:

  • Eat small meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
  • Steer clear of fried, acidic, or spicy foods, especially close to bedtime, to prevent heartburn. (A pregnancy support pillow which elevates your upper body might also do the trick.)
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day unless your doctor suggests otherwise.
  • Engage in relaxing activities such as listening to music or taking a warm shower.
  • Create a personal bedtime routine and stick to it.
  • Get plenty of sleep – 8 hours a night is recommended during your second trimester.
  • Turn off your TV, phone, and other devices 1 to 2 hours prior to sleeping.
  • If nightmares are keeping you up, consider discussing with a therapist.
A woman sleeping while pregnant using a support pillow

In terms of sleep, the last few months of pregnancy might be the toughest of all. Your baby bump has grown so large, it’s difficult to find any position that’s comfortable enough for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.

What is the best sleeping position in the third trimester?

As usual, SOS is a pregnant woman’s best friend. Although lying on your left side is the sleep position of choice, it’s OK to sleep on your right side if it feels better.

Remember to place a pillow underneath your baby bump as well as between your knees for added comfort, specifically around the hips and pelvis.

What might disturb your sleep?

If you’re struggling to get some decent shut-eye during your third trimester, there are multiple factors to take into account.

  • General discomfort, muscle aches, and back pain
  • Waking up in the middle of the night, due to frequent urination
  • Snoring caused by nasal congestion and uterine pressure on your diaphragm
  • Cramps and restless leg syndrome
  • Vivid dreams
  • Movement from your baby
  • Itchy skin
  • Heartburn

Tips for a good night’s sleep in the third trimester

Promote restful sleep in the final months of pregnancy by adopting the following healthy habits:

  • Be extra careful to avoid sleeping on your back during these late stages of pregnancy.
  • Invest in a pregnancy support pillow if you haven’t already done so.
  • When a leg cramp strikes, straighten out your leg and flex your foot upwards.
  • Stay away from carbonated beverages if you’re experiencing leg cramps.
  • Battle insomnia by picking up a good book, taking a warm shower, or writing in your journal.

Can lack of sleep affect your baby?

Fortunately, lack of sleep won’t have a detrimental effect on your baby. The stress and exhaustion of sleep deprivation, however, could increase your likelihood of needing a cesarean section.

That’s why it’s important to take all of the steps mentioned above to ensure you enjoy high-quality sleep throughout the course of your pregnancy.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27871127

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=8164943

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28866020

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/sleeping-positions-and-tips-in-third-trimester-of-pregnancy/

https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/sleep-positions#waking-up-on-your-back

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleeping-trimesters-3rd-trimester

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/pregnancy-and-sleep

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-tips-pregnant-women

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleeping-trimesters-1st-trimester

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/sleep-pregnancy-first-trimester-best-sleeping-positions/

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/how-to-sleep-during-pregnancy-in-second-trimester-sleeping-positions-and-tips/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleeping-trimesters-2nd-trimester

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/sleep-during-pregnancy/art-20043827

https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/sleeping-positions-during-pregnancy/

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