Pregnancy and the Importance of Sleep – What You Need to Know

It may seem strange to see the words pregnancy and sleep together in the same sentence since they so rarely coexist. Between all of the hormonal and physical changes, getting rest can seem like a very rare occurrence. Each trimester has its own challenges, and feeling tired is a factor in just about every single stage.

The First Trimester

The first trimester is typically categorized as the part of pregnancy where many women feel the worst of their morning sickness. Anytime you get sick you also feel a lot more tired anyway, but there is more to it during pregnancy. This can be attributed to the rush of hormones that come during this stage, one of which is called progesterone, which is a sleep-inducing hormone.

There are other physical changes going on, too, such as building a small person and preparing the body for putting on more weight to support the growing uterus. These developments can leave you feeling very tired and in need of some extra sleep. Even if you can’t tell that your body is doing so much work, it is, and that really takes its toll on you.

Constantly going to the bathroom is a stereotype for good reason. Increasing any water and other fluids in the body gives you an almost frequent need to urinate. This is especially true during the night, interrupting any hope of a full night’s sleep. When you are up at night, tiredness is going to be your daytime companion. Try drinking less water before going to bed.

There are a few other things you might try to get more sleep in the first trimester. In order to curb sickness and get some extra rest, a lot of people have found that taking half of a vitamin B6 and half of a sleeping pill in order to feel more rested. Vitamin B6 helps you get more rest by helping to convert tryptophan, an essential amino acid in your body, to niacin and serotonin, promoting sleep.

Second Trimester

The second trimester is usually the best part of the pregnancy for many women. This is a time that is characterized by feeling well, an extra boost of energy, and a growing excitement at the realization of actually having a baby in the coming months.

The only sleep problem most will encounter during this phase is a growing level of discomfort as the midsection begins to grow. Stomach sleepers are the ones who have the hardest time adjusting to sleeping pregnant. Most people find that a large pillow or a pillow between their legs helps them to be more comfortable.

Third Trimester

As the baby, uterus, and stomach get bigger, a pregnant woman is going to get more and more uncomfortable sleeping at night. The third trimester starts off not being terrible, but by the end, sleep is a rarity. There are many reasons that women are tired during this phase, especially because almost any activity is so much harder to do and requires more energy.

A common problem that restricts sleep is heartburn. The third trimester is the most common time for women to suffer from acid reflux. The best ways to treat this are limiting spicy and fatty foods, especially close to bedtime, and asking your doctor what medicines can help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Another common complaint of pregnant women and their partners is a stuffy nose which leads to snoring. While nasal sprays might work for some, others may need the help of a CPAP machine to help them stop snoring. This helps everyone involved get more sleep at night and wake up more refreshed.

Always Ask

It is important to realize that sleep is going to be difficult all along the way. It may not get better once the baby is born, but it is all worth it in the end. The best thing you can do if you are really struggling to sleep at all during your pregnancy is to talk to your doctor. Taking vitamins, medications, and herbal remedies while pregnant can have some very serious consequences, so be sure that you always have the approval of your physician.

About the Author


Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.