Sleep Disorders: Sleep During Pregnancy
The hormonal changes and physical discomforts associated
with pregnancy can affect a
pregnant womans quality of sleep
. Each trimester of pregnancy brings
its own unique sleep challenges. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the
following are the most common sleep changes that may occur in each trimester:
- Frequent waking due to an increased need to go to the
- Disruptions in sleep as a result of physical and emotional stress associated with
- Increased daytime sleepiness.
Sleep during the
second trimester improves for many women since nighttime urination becomes less
of an issue as the growing fetus reduces pressure on the bladder by moving above
it. Still the quality of sleep may remain poor as a result of the growing baby
and emotional stress associated with pregnancy.
You are likely
to experience the most sleep problems during this trimester as a result of the
- Discomfort due to your growing belly.
- Heartburn, leg cramps, and sinus congestion
- Frequent nighttime urination returns, as the baby's position
changes to put pressure on the bladder once again.
Tips for Sound Sleep
sleep disturbances are severe, talk to your doctor. There are steps you can take
that may improve your sleep quality. One or more of the following may help you
get the sleep you need during pregnancy.
- Extra pillows: Pillows
can be used to support both the tummy and back. A pillow between the legs can
help support the lower back and make sleeping on your side easier. Some
specific types of pillows include the wedge-shaped pillow and the full-length
Drinking a glass of warm milk may help bring on sleep. Foods high in
carbohydrates, such as bread or crackers, can promote sleep. In addition, a
snack high in protein can keep blood sugar levels up and could help prevent
bad dreams, headaches, and hot flashes.
- Relaxation techniques:
Relaxation can help calm your mind and relax your muscles. These techniques
include stretching and yoga, massage and deep breathing.
- Exercise: Regular exercise during pregnancy
promotes physical and mental health.
Exercise also can aid in helping you sleep more deeply. However, vigorous
exercise within four hours of bedtime should be avoided.
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications: Ideally, all medications
(including over-the-counter medications) should be avoided during pregnancy.
Some medicines can hurt the developing baby. However, there are some medications
that are considered safe to take during pregnancy and that might help you sleep
better. Always talk to your doctor first before taking any kinds of medications
including alternative therapies.
Reviewed by The Sleep Medicine Center at The Cleveland Clinic.
Edited by Michael J.
, WebMD, September 2004.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic
Last Editorial Review: 6/20/2005