How Pregnancy Affects Your Sleep by Trimester
- January 24,2019
There’s a reason the expression is “sleep like a baby” and not “sleep like a pregnant lady.” Hormones and changes in your growing body all play a role in potential interruptions to your sleep cycle, and common sleep problems experienced during pregnancy vary with each trimester. Keep reading to prepare yourself for what to expect at each new phase of your pregnancy, so you can get the best rest possible.
FIRST TRIMESTER: Nap Time is Queen
Progesterone Paradox: Increased levels of progesterone can make you feel extremely sleepy during the day. Don’t be surprised if getting through the day feels like a total slog. If your work schedule allows, try to get a nap in when you can.
Paradoxically, that same progesterone won’t do you any favors in the sleep department at night -- it can actually keep you up, contributing to the cycle of fatigue during the day.
Ch-Ch-Changes: New changes to your body, like tender breasts, become far more noticeable when you’re trying to get cozy under the covers at night (tummy sleepers, we’re looking at you!). You’ll also start to feel a more frequent need to pee during the wee hours of the night, as your growing uterus puts increasing pressure on your bladder.
To combat these challenges, get in the habit of sleeping on your left side now (which will come in handy later). And to limit your nightly bathroom trips, stay plenty hydrated during the day, but try to cut down on your fluid intake as bedtime approaches.
Morning Sickness: Nothing says “sweet dreams” like a sudden wave of nausea as you’re lying in bed. Fortunately, morning sickness won’t last too long, and the second trimester will be here before you know it. In the meantime, keep your night stand stocked with crackers or hard lemon candy to help combat nausea, or try some of these remedies.
SECOND TRIMESTER: We’re in Love
Referred to as the “honeymoon phase” for rest during pregnancy, sleep typically improves during this trimester. Your hormone levels are climbing more slowly now, so your daytime energy increases and your mood improves. Plus, your morning sickness is probably gone by now, too (good riddance!).
Sleep While You Can: Simply enjoy this time, and use it to establish a bedtime routine that feels relaxing to you. If you’ve gotten this far without sleeping on your side yet, now’s the time to start. Having those habits in place will be helpful in the third trimester when the honeymoon phase is officially over.
New Potential Sleep Disruptors: All of that being said, there are still a few issues that can develop during the second trimester. Some disruptors to look out for include: snoring and congestion, heartburn, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (a tingling sensation in the legs), and vivid dreams. If any of these ever become unmanageable, talk to your doctor about what treatments are safe for you during pregnancy.
THIRD TRIMESTER: Hang in there, Mama
There’s no way around it, third trimester sleep is tough, and all the studies show that women in their third trimester get less sleep than women in their first and second.
Sleep Where You Can: Your growing belly is likely making it increasingly difficult to get comfortable, no matter how many pillows you’ve wedged around you. If you can’t find a way to get lay down comfortably in bed, try sleeping in a reclining chair. Staying upright may be an easier way to catch some z’s.
Under Pressure: This time it’s baby putting pressure on your bladder, and the little one isn’t going to let up during the night. As suggested during the first trimester, try cutting back on your fluid intake in the evenings. A way to buy extra time between bathroom breaks is to lean forward when you pee to ensure you’re completely emptying your bladder.
Sleep Disturbances Can Increase: All the issues that can start to creep up in the second trimester can become more problematic in the third. Heartburn, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, back pain, vivid dreams, and even anxiety can kick in. If these ever become too unbearable or you feel that you’re not getting nearly enough sleep, talk to your doctor about some ways to find relief that are safe for your pregnancy.