A woman holding her baby with a midwife
By Salam Chalouhi, MD

Tips to Get Better Sleep During Pregnancy

Sleep loss is common in pregnancy. But following these tips can help you sleep like a baby!

You’ve heard that once you give birth, you can kiss sleeping through the night goodbye. But restless nights for pregnant women start way before delivery.

Unfortunately, sleep disturbances are a normal part of being pregnant. The list of reasons why you can’t sleep doubles in size:

  • Needing to use the bathroom more
  • Tender breasts
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Leg cramps
  • Heartburn
  • Rising levels of progesterone
  • Vivid dreams

Sleep during pregnancy is important for your health. It’s a time for your body to recharge from the day. Most pregnant patients need eight to 10 hours of sleep a night, but many only get six or seven.

Insomnia—chronic trouble sleeping—affects your health more than your baby’s. Sleep deprivation in the first trimester is associated with maternal health problems such as:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Sleep-disordered breathing (such as sleep apnea)
  • Stress

Thankfully, there are ways you can get more precious hours of sleep. Here are our best tips on how to catch more Zs.

Tips to Get More Seep

Start a Bedtime Routine

Start by letting yourself unwind from your day an hour before you want to go to sleep. This can include your skincare routine or reading a book or listening to your favorite relaxing music. The idea is that this time shouldn’t include electronics.

Consistency is crucial when trying to improve your overall quality of sleep. So, your bedtime routine should start and end around the same time every night to set your body's internal clock.

Diet and Exercise

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. But try to minimize sipping after 7p.m., so you aren’t up all night using the restroom.

Eat a healthy dinner and eat slowly to reduce the chance of heartburn keeping you up at night. Some women find that eating earlier in the evening helps as well. If you need a late-night snack before bed, chose something high in protein to keep your blood sugar steady while you sleep. Also, staying active throughout the day will help you feel ready to hit the hay at bedtime.

Find a Comfortable Position

Most patients should try to sleep on their side during pregnancy. If you start in the beginning of pregnancy, you will have it down pat when your baby starts getting bigger.

As the fetus grows, it will put pressure on your blood vessels, which can slow down blood flow to the uterus. Sleeping on your left side improves blood flow and takes the pressure off your liver and kidneys, which helps reduce swelling.

If you accidentally roll over on your right side or your back, don’t worry. A little time in these positions is unlikely to cause problems. Just move back to your left side and try to get back to sleep.

Try putting a pillow between your legs to relieve pressure on your hips. Many women use wedge pillows to support their pregnant bellies and get a good night’s rest.

Create a Sleeping Paradise

Try making your room cooler or darker at night. Blackout curtains can help keep out the morning sun. If you have frequent bathroom visits at night, keep a dim nightlight to find your way instead of a jarring overhead light. This will help you get back to sleep easier.

Cut Down on Caffeine

Kick caffeine to the curb after lunchtime. Drinks like soda, coffee, tea and energy drinks are stimulants. That means they can keep you awake, even if you drink them several hours before bedtime. 

Take up Yoga

Not all yoga classes are calorie-shredders. Some focus on relaxation techniques, which can help you wind down for bed. Talk to your doctor or midwife before starting a new fitness regimen during pregnancy.


Elizabeth Garchar, MD

Enroll in a Childbirth or Parenting Class

If worrying about childbirth or caring for a new baby is keeping you awake at night, consider signing up for a birth or parenting class. More knowledge, plus support from other pregnant women, may help ease your worries.

Say ‘No’ to Melatonin

We know you’re tired and might be willing to try anything to get better sleep. We recommend avoiding sleep-inducing supplements like melatonin until you talk with your doctor or midwife. Melatonin has not been proven safe in pregnancy.

Also, supplements are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means there is no way to know exactly what ingredients are in the melatonin.

Most women can safely take Unisom, which is an antihistamine (allergy medication) to get better sleep. Unisom is available over the counter. Follow the instructions on the label for how much to take.

If lack of sleep is impacting your daily life, visit with your doctor or midwife. We are here to help you have a safe, healthy pregnancy—and that includes getting a good night’s sleep!

To find out whether you or a loved one might benefit from Ob/Gyn care
Categories: Women's Health