It is common knowledge that once your new baby arrives you are in for many sleepless nights. What you may not know, however, is that the sleepless nights may start months before your little one makes his or her debut. Although hardly fair, pregnancy poses multiple challenges to a good night’s sleep, often starting in the first trimester, and hitting full-force in the last trimester, a time when getting adequate rest is so important.

Sleep Problems in Early Pregnancy

bathroomDuring the first trimester, sleep and pregnancy seem to go together like peas and carrots. Due to hormonal changes, many women find themselves exhausted no matter how well they slept the night before. Problems arise though, when nausea and frequent trips to the bathroom interrupt your sleep.

Early pregnancy can also have your thoughts and emotions in somewhat of an uproar, feeling excited one minute and anxious the next. Despite feeling tired, newly pregnant Moms may find themselves laying in bed till the wee hours, obsessing about everything from the baby’s health to how long your Mother-in-law will be staying with you.

Second and Third Trimester Sleeping Woes

The second trimester may give you a reprieve from the exhaustion and the frequent urination, but it may also be the start of a new culprit: heartburn. Although heartburn is common during pregnancy and can start anytime it often strikes in the later part of the second trimester. This is also when the growing fetus may start putting a bit of pressure on your diaphragm, causing minor breathing difficulty.

Enter the third trimester. You may see the return of your first trimester symptoms of frequent trips to the bathroom, and exhaustion. Inevitably, your changing body will likely cause you some night time discomfort. Aside from your bouncing bundle of joy making it difficult to get comfy, back aches, leg cramps and difficulty breathing can put significant hurdles on your road to slumber-town. Add to it any anxiety you may be feeling about your impending labor and delivery, and you have a recipe for lots of tossing and turning.

What You Can Do

There is good news! The sleep and pregnancy issues we’ve described are often preventable. With a little planning and creativity, you will be sleeping like a baby in no time.

It is always important to listen to your body. Learn to rest when you can, a skill that will become even more valuable when the baby arrives. To help combat night time trips to the bathroom, try to limit fluids in the evening (tricky, as you will want to stay well-hydrated throughout the day). Avoid eating big meals late in the day, especially spicy or acidic ones. If heartburn or shortness of breath becomes a problem, avoid laying flat. Prop yourself a bit with some pillows, and try raising your arms above your head. Wedge pillows are specifically designed to help address acid reflux and other upper GI problems.

When it comes to your comfort, especially during the last trimester, invest in a body pillow. The frequently suggested sleeping position for pregnancy involves sleeping on your left side, with a pillow between your legs. Many women swear by this position, combined with a body pillow, as providing the best potential for getting a good night’s sleep. It should also go without saying that you should not hesitate to talk to your doctor about any questions or concerns you have about sleep and pregnancy.

Author's Bio: 

Josh Tal is the Operations and Public Relations Manager for, an online sleep resource center. Josh is a boarded sleep technician (RPSGT) by trade. In addition, he is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University with a focus on Women's Health and Neuroscience through Stanford University. He works as a research assistant at Stanford University's Late-Life and Lifespan Approach to Neuropsychiatric Disorders Lab.