How to Sleep When Pregnant: Tips Throughout Pregnancy

How to Sleep When Pregnant: Tips Throughout Pregnancy

In between selecting paint colors, choosing baby names, and navigating a sashimi-free diet, there’s another pregnancy task to put on your to-do list: learning how to sleep when pregnant.

Sleep helps us reduce stress, keeps our moods (relatively) stable, and helps keep our physical health in check.

This is always important, but especially when you’re pregnant (which happens to be when insomnia can rear its ugly head).

You are, as this researcher suggests, sleeping for two.

Not getting enough sleep has been linked to various pregnancy complications, from high blood pressure to gestational diabetes.

But it’s not just important to get enough hours of sleep.

Position may also matter.

While you may never have given much thought to the position your body is in when you drift off for your nightly slumber, pregnancy puts this issue front and center.

Let’s dive in.

In this article: 📝

  • How to sleep while pregnant
  • What is the best way to sleep when you are pregnant?
  • Can a pregnant woman lay on her back?
  • Can I sleep on my stomach while pregnant?
  • Can I hurt my baby by sleeping on my right side?
  • How to sleep better when pregnant

How to sleep while pregnant

If you’ve been struggling to get the zzz’s you need, you are not alone.

There’s a lot going on right now.

Your body is changing, your hormones are dancing, and your life is about to be transformed significantly.

And then there’s the number of times you get up to pee in a night.

It’s not hard to see why sleep may be a little harder to come by these days.

Particularly in the first and the third trimesters, you may be feeling more exhausted than ever.

Getting the rest you need is a serious priority for both your health and the health of your baby.

So what can you do to improve how much and how well you sleep during pregnancy?

Let’s take a look.

What is the best way to sleep when you are pregnant?

There are two important considerations when it comes to sleeping when pregnant—how much sleep you get and what position you’re in when doing so.

According to this study, pregnant women sleep an average of about 7.4 hours a night.

If you are able to get more than that, even better!

And what about sleeping position?

How much can it affect your pregnancy—and what’s the best position to shoot for?

Can a pregnant woman lay on her back?

Sleeping on your back in the first few weeks of pregnancy is fine—so don’t worry about this too much in the first trimester.

As your belly starts to expand, you may naturally gravitate to sleeping on your side, as this is more comfortable.

So are there any risks involved?

Well, the story is not that cut and dried.

You may have heard that sleeping on your back during later parts of your pregnancy is not a good idea—and it looks as though there are good reasons for this.

As recent studies have shown us (here’s one from 2011 and one from 2015) there appears to be a link between sleeping on your back and the risk of stillbirth.

But the research is inconclusive. The self-reported data in this study from 2019 appears to refute the link between back sleeping and stillbirth.

So, what does that mean for you?

Basically, there might be a risk—but if you’ve woken up on your back and you’re frantically googling the dangers of sleeping on back while pregnant, don’t stress.

Just do the best you can to fall asleep on your side at the start of the night (or after one of your many nightly bathroom trips).

Can I sleep on my stomach while pregnant?

Sleeping on your stomach is fine during early pregnancy.

The amniotic sac and your uterine wall do a great job of protecting your growing baby.

But by the time your bump starts growing, this position may not be so comfortable.

😴 Dig deeper: Can You Lay on Your Stomach While Pregnant?

Can I hurt my baby by sleeping on my right side?

Many experts recommend sleeping on your left-hand side during pregnancy.

As this study shows, from as early as 20 weeks, sleeping on your left side can be beneficial.

The left side is often seen as optimal because it allows for blood to flow to your heart and then to your baby, while taking pressure off the liver and kidneys.

But if this feels impossible, the right side seems just fine, too.

As this review of various studies suggests, sleeping on either your left or right side appears to be safe.

How to sleep better when pregnant

Now for your ultimate guide, trimester-by-trimester.

Let’s get you rested, mama!

How to sleep when pregnant: First trimester

In the first trimester, as your progesterone levels increase, you may be feeling a bit more sleepy than normal.

You have full license to listen to your body and rest when it tells you to.

(We know—this can be a hard adjustment, particularly if you’re used to running on an empty tank.)

Some things that may help are:

  • Stick to a bedtime routine. Try as much as possible to eliminate screen time before bed. Have a bath, if this helps. Get to bed in a darkened room.
  • Get some light exercise during the day.
  • Try breathing and relaxation exercises before going to sleep.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Use all the pillows you need to make yourself comfortable and try to keep nausea at bay.

How to sleep when pregnant: Second trimester

A strange thing happens to many mamas-to-be in the second trimester—they get an energy spurt.

While this might seem like a great time to stay up later and get things ready for baby, it’s still a good idea to prioritize sleep while you can.

This can help build up some sleep reserves for the third trimester.

Because sleeping on your side is optimal when you get to the third trimester, the second trimester is also an excellent time to start practicing—particularly if it’s not natural for you.

How to sleep comfortably when pregnant: Third trimester

Both sleep position and the amount of sleep you get are important in the third trimester.

Studies show a link between the amount of sleep you get in the third trimester and the number of hours you spend in labor.

The bottom line? Rest is what you need right now, and sleep should be a top priority in your daily schedule.

The problem is, this may also be the time when a comfortable sleep is the hardest to come by.

Between pregnancy symptoms, a changing body, and the many thoughts that come with preparing for your new arrival, rest is not always that easy.

Pillows can be your best friend here.

A pillow between your legs can be very useful, as can propping up your back with a pillow to encourage your body to stay on its left side.

Some mamas-to-be find it beneficial to get a full-body pregnancy pillow to keep you supported and comfortable.

(After recommendations? We love the Sleepybelly pregnancy pillow for the best night’s sleep you’ll ever get during your pregnancy.)

And if pregnancy sleep issues are causing you stress and you want some support, check out the Peanut community.

We’re here for you.

We wish you many nights of peaceful slumber.

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