Topic Overview

Sleep problems are common during pregnancy. Sleep studies
tell us that hormonal changes, plus the discomforts of later pregnancy, can
break up a pregnant woman’s sleep cycle.

  • The first trimester can bring insomnia and night
    waking. Most women feel the need to take naps to battle daytime sleepiness and
  • The second trimester tends to feel more normal for many
    women. This is often a period of improved daytime energy and less
    need for naps.
  • The third trimester is a time to expect increasing
    insomnia and night waking. Most women wake up 3 to 5
    times a night, usually because of such discomforts as back pain, needing to
    urinate, leg cramps, heartburn, and fetal movement. Strange dreams are also
    common in the last few weeks of pregnancy. The need to take daily naps returns
    as the
    due date approaches.

Managing sleep problems during pregnancy

You can
take a few simple measures to get the best possible sleep during pregnancy.

  • Get regular exercise.
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  • Keep your naps as short as possible.
  • Use your bed only
    for sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine.
  • Practice relaxation
    techniques. (For more information, see the topic Stress
  • Reduce your exposure to sounds that might wake
  • Limit your fluid intake after 6 p.m. to reduce nighttime
    bathroom visits.
  • Prop yourself with extra pillows to reduce aches
    and pains.

If you continue to have problems with insomnia, go to bed
only when you’re tired, and get out of bed when you’re wide awake in the middle
of the night.

Medicines are seldom used to aid sleep during
pregnancy, because most are dangerous to a growing baby. If you have sleep apnea,
continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) may be safe to use during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Kirtly Jones, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMarch 16, 2017