How Pregnancy Affects your Sleep

Beautiful pregnant woman relaxing or sleeping with tummy supporting pillow at bed.

Pregnancy is one of the most exciting times in a woman’s life. The changes to your body mean that a new life is taking shape. The incredible process of the growth of a child leads to many physical and emotional changes in the weeks and months ahead. One of first changes pregnant mothers notice is in the ability to sleep (or lack thereof).

Prepare for Change

The National Sleep Foundation reports that approximately 80 percent of women will notice changes to their sleep schedule during pregnancy. Understanding these changes and how you can adjust your habits will help you stay happier and healthier in the months ahead. After all, once your baby arrives, you can expect to be up frequently during the night!


Sleep in the First Trimester

During your first trimester, your body’s levels of progesterone will surge causing you to experience sleepy spells in mid-day. This continual change in levels of progesterone will often compound your feelings of exhaustion but may keep you up at night. It’s important to know that while these hormonal changes and the impact upon your sleep schedule may make you feel miserable, it will not affect the health of your baby. Sleep when you can — the best advice during your first trimester. Take a nap when overwhelming feelings of fatigue strike. If you are working, this may not be an option. Taking a walk in the evening before bed can be helpful in getting a better night’s sleep.

Dealing with Discomfort

During your first trimester, your body is rapidly going through changes. You may experience extremely tender breasts, which can make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. This is especially true of stomach sleepers. In addition to this discomfort, you will notice an increase in your frequency of urination as your uterus begins to grow and press upon the bladder.

Learning how to Sleep on Your Side

Your first trimester is an ideal time to learn how to sleep on your side if you normally sleep on your back or tummy. Sleeping on your side is especially beneficial for your baby, as it allows an unobstructed delivery of blood and nutrients to your baby while you rest.

Sleep in the Second Trimester

Your second trimester will likely provide you a bit of relief on the sleeping front. Shifts in hormones during this stage of pregnancy are far less pronounced than during the first trimester, so you will probably notice that you have more energy for all of your activities. The second trimester is a great time to establish normal sleeping patterns that you can help you transition to motherhood.

Get Moving!

If your exercise routine didn’t quite make it through the first trimester with you, that’s ok. This is a great time to re-establish healthy habits. What’s more, a regular exercise routine can boost your mental and physical health and allow you to sleep more comfortably and soundly.

Sleep in the Third Trimester

As you head into your last phase of pregnancy, your growing bundle of joy will probably wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It is increasingly difficult to get comfortable as your belly reaches larger proportions. If you find you can’t get comfortable sleeping on your side, you may find it beneficial to try sleeping in a recliner.

New Symptoms of Discomfort

Many moms in their third trimester report increasing symptoms that keep them up at night including:

  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Heartburn
  • Cramping

And it won’t just be your own discomfort that may keep you up. Your new baby may be increasingly active when you try to sleep, and his or her schedule doesn’t always align with yours.

We’re Here to Help

The staff at Virginia Beach OBGYN is here to help you and guide you through the pregnancy journey. That includes any changes or challenges you may be facing with your sleep cycle. If you have questions or concerns about how your sleep has changed or may change over the course of your pregnancy, our skilled physicians will be happy to discuss these concerns with you and find a solution that works for you and your lifestyle.