The Best Ways to Sleep When You’re Pregnant

Published on December 23rd, 2019 and Updated on December 27th, 2019

Photo of a woman lying sleeping on her side in bed.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, schedule changes, physical changes, and anxiety can all affect sleep. Now that you’re pregnant, what’s the best position to sleep in?

Choosing Your Sleep Position

Pre-empting insomnia can be a matter of getting some healthy exercise each day, such as going for a walk or doing some prenatal yoga. But what if that’s not enough?

Attempting to get comfortable before bed is a common aspect of insomnia early in pregnancy that many expecting mothers can relate to. Finding the best sleeping position is a common way to help combat pregnancy-related insomnia.

Sleeping on your side while pregnant can help improve kidney function, and if you sleep on your left side, it promotes good blood flow to the baby. If you’re more prone to sleeping on your right side, then myth has it the baby is a girl. If you’re lying on your side and still aren’t quite comfortable, place a pillow between your knees.

If sleeping on your back is more comfortable than sleeping on your side, placing a pillow under your lower back can provide extra support during the first trimester. After the first trimester, it is recommended that you avoid sleeping on your back and instead opt to sleep on your side.

Be sure to talk to a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns about sleeping positions.

Avoiding Pregnancy Insomnia

There are a number of reasons for first-trimester insomnia, including a rise in progesterone to help facilitate implantation, anxiety, metabolic changes, and overall body aches and pains.

Change Your Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines are generally established over time. If you’re able to change your bedtime routine during your first-trimester insomnia, it can make a smooth transition to better sleep as the remaining trimesters quickly approach.

Here are some bedtime routine do’s and don’ts:

Do’s:

  • Take a warm bath.
  • Cut out screen time.
  • Write down worrying thoughts in a journal.
  • Read.
  • Darken the sleeping area.
  • Go to bed around the same time every night/wake up around the same time every morning. 
  • Exercise during the day.
  • Set room to a comfortable temperature to sleep in.

Don’ts:

  • Eat or work in bed.
  • Drink caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  • Watch television or be on the computer before bed.
  • Eat heavy meals two hours before going to sleep.
  • Any activity that increases heart rate two hours before bed.
  • Take naps during the evening.
  • Smoke or drink alcohol.

Limit Liquid Intake

Drinking water regularly is vital for human health, especially when pregnant. However, when trying to prevent pregnancy insomnia, drinking water or any other liquids too late in the evening can increase the number of times you have to get up throughout the night. Cutting down on fluids before bed will ensure you don’t have to urinate as frequently and increase your chances of getting an uninterrupted six to eight hours of sleep.

Quell Morning Sickness

It might be called “morning sickness,” but it can happen at all times of the day. Luckily, there are many remedies to help relieve morning sickness.

  • Ginger: This well-known remedy may temporarily relieve nausea, and can be ingested through teas, supplements, or chews.
  • Acupressure: When pressure is applied below the wrist on the inner forearm, it is said to help with nausea associated with morning sickness.
  • Health Foods: Eating healthy and avoiding foods that are greasy, spicy, or high in processed sugars can help keep your morning sickness at bay.
  • Aromatherapy: The scent combination of mint, lemon, and orange may help to reduce nausea.

Remedy Sore Breasts

Rises in estrogen and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) can cause soreness in the breasts, making it harder to sleep. A hot bath or shower, loose-fitting clothing, and pain relief that is approved by your doctor may help with breast tenderness.

Soothe That Headache

Tension headaches, often caused by weight and/or hormone changes, are common during pregnancy, and are characterized by muscle tightness and head and neck pain. Getting plenty of rest, neck and scalp massages, and hot or cold packs (depending upon which provides the best relief) are great at-home remedies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 65% of expecting mothers in the United States use/have used acetaminophen while pregnant. It is considered to be a relatively safe medicine to take while pregnant and is recommended by medical professionals to take to help reduce fevers and pains, but you should always listen to your own doctor’s recommendations before taking any medication.

Eat Healthy

Unhealthy filler/junk foods will leave you hungry at night but healthy foods will help you stay fuller longer.

Foods and beverages that are considered to be nutritionally ideal during pregnancy include:

  • Legumes;
  • Sweet potatoes;
  • Cooked eggs;
  • Broccoli and other leafy greens;
  • Cooked beef, pork, and chicken;
  • Berries;
  • Whole grains;
  • Avocados;
  • Dried fruit;
  • Water;
  • Herbal/caffeine-free tea.

Foods and beverages to avoid during pregnancy due to their potentially harmful nature include:

  • High-mercury fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore tuna)
  • Undercooked or raw fish
  • Undercooked, raw, or processed meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Organ meat
  • Raw sprouts
  • Unwashed produce
  • Unpasteurized dairy products (milk, cheese)
  • Unpasteurized fruit juice
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol

Ease Anxiety

Knowing what to expect with your pregnancy can help put your mind at ease. If waiting until the second trimester to find out the gender of your baby is causing you stress, consider taking an early gender DNA test to put that concern to bed. Other ways to ease your anxiety might include:

  • Exercise: Getting enough exercise during the day is important for both mental and physical health, as well as reducing anxiety levels.
  • Maintain a healthy sleep schedule: It is important to get between six and eight hours of sleep a night. Being well-rested decreases the chances of anxiety occurring during pregnancy.
  • Write down your worries: Writing down anything that may be worrisome allows for you to lay everything out on the table and get it all off of your mind. Dedicate 5-10 minutes of each day to express on paper what is bothering you, and identify what you can do to help resolve any issues.
  • Take a deep breath: Inhale the positive thoughts, exhale the negative. Controlling your breathing by taking a slow breath in, holding it for a few seconds, and releasing it slowly tells your mind and body that everything is going to be okay.