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Sleep During Pregnancy: Your Questions Answered

Holly Lebowitz Rossi

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Get answers about sleeping while pregnant, from the best pregnancy sleep positions to how much sleep pregnant women should get each night.


Sleep — the beautiful, restorative slumber that helps to reset your body and mind — can feel elusive when you are sleeping for two, with physical discomfort and racing thoughts conspiring to keep you awake.


As your body is changing during pregnancy, so can your sleeping patterns and requirements. Read on to get your questions about sleeping while pregnant answered.


Why Am I Having a Hard Time Sleeping While Pregnant?

There are numerous aspects of pregnancy that can interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep. For one thing, your growing baby puts pressure on your diaphragm, making it harder to take deep breaths. The pressure also affects your bladder, leading many pregnant women to rise several times a night to go to the bathroom.


As your belly grows and your body adjusts to pregnancy, you might also experience heartburn or acid reflux, "restless leg syndrome," or swollen sinuses — all of which impact your sleep.


Not to mention the combination of anxiety and excitement that come with anticipating the arrival of a new baby. If you're struggling to sleep while pregnant, know that you're not alone. Research shows nearly 28% of pregnant women slept less than 7 hours per night during the second trimester.


[Read more about Sleep Health - Efficiency, Duration, Timing]


How Many Hours Should a Pregnant Woman Sleep?

The answer to this question depends on what stage of your pregnancy you're in.


At the beginning of a pregnancy, a surge in progesterone leads many women to feel drowsy and require long nights of sleep (8-10 hours) plus a nap (or two) during the day.


After the first trimester, your energy should regulate — but your ability to get a full night of sleep may be impacted by your growing body.


Try to get a minimum of eight quality hours a night," said Dr. Peter G. Polos, MD, PhD, FCCP, FAASM — Sleep Medicine Specialist and Sleep Number Sleep Expert.


What Are Safe Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy?

Side-sleeping is the ideal position throughout pregnancy, especially in the later months, with a further recommendation to sleep on your left side to minimize pressure and maximize blood flow to your uterus and placenta.


In the second and third trimesters, it's not recommended to sleep on your back. By then, your belly and the baby inside it put significant weight on your back, on your intestines and on your major vena cava blood vessel that carries blood from your lower body to your heart.


If you wake up sleeping on your back, don't worry — just roll onto your side and head back to dreamland.


Can I Sleep on My Right Side During Pregnancy?

If you naturally sleep on your right side — or if you fall sleep in one position but wake up sleeping on your right side — you don't need to worry.


The reason left-side sleeping is recommended is because when you lie on your right side, your belly can press on your liver and can compress blood vessels that carry blood and nutrition to your growing placenta. But sleeping on your right side is not an emergency.


Can I Sleep on My Stomach During Pregnancy?

During the first trimester, before your belly grows too big for stomach-sleeping, it's ok to sleep on your tummy.


Arranging pillows to rest your belly into can help you continue to stomach-sleep when your bump starts to emerge.


Can a Pregnancy Pillow Help Me Sleep?

There are many I- or U-shaped pregnancy pillows on the market to support healthy sleep during pregnancy. A pregnancy pillow, strategically placed, can support your body during sleep. You can also use a regular pillow or a body pillow to adjust your sleeping position and get more comfortable.



If you are a side sleeper, tucking a pillow between your bent knees relieves pressure on your hip joints and lower back. Some women enjoy having a pillow at their backs for extra support. Wedging a pillow, like this adjustable wedge pillow, under your belly is another way to find some comfort between the sheets.



Finally, if heartburn or acid reflux are bothering you at night, use pillows to prop yourself up and let gravity support your digestive tract.


Why Am I Always Hot During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body's blood volume — the amount of blood circulating through your veins — increases significantly. This extra blood, so important and nourishing for your baby, comes with the side effect of leaving many women feeling warmer than usual.


Hormonal and metabolic changes only exacerbate this effect. Though this sensation is typically worse during summer pregnancies, it can happen to anyone at any time of the year — and especially in bed.


To keep your temperature regulated while you sleep during pregnancy, try a cool or lukewarm shower before bed, run a fan in the bedroom, wear loose-fitted clothing to sleep and adjust your bedding to maximize breathability and air flow.


If you are too warm in bed, try these 10 cool-down tips.


Since your metabolic demands are higher when you're pregnant, Dr. Polos recommends identifying ways to ensure you have sufficient quantity AND quality of sleep.


"Make sure the things you can control in your sleep environment and in your diet are conducive to quality sleep," Polos adds. "You won't have control of the baby disrupting your sleep, but you can have a cool [65-67 degrees], dark, quiet bedroom; and a comfortable adjustable bed.


Find Out More


Like diet and exercise, quality sleep is essential for optimal well-being and performance. Because everyone's sleep needs are different, Sleep Number® smart beds, with SleepIQ® technology inside, sense your movements and automatically adjust firmness, comfort and support to keep you both sleeping comfortably. Find your Sleep Number® setting for your best possible night's sleep.




Holly Lebowitz Rossi is a freelance writer and editor based in Arlington, Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Guideposts, NPR, Shondaland, and Parenting, among other print and online publications.

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