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Sleep Health

Sleeping During Pregnancy: Doctor Recommended Tips + Sleeping Positions

    Last Updated
    March 1, 2022
    min read

    Most women find it difficult to sleep well while pregnant, especially during the last few weeks of the third trimester. From trying to find a comfortable position to only sleeping a few hours per night, proper sleep is important to an expecting mother, yet can be difficult to achieve.

    There are several factors that cause expecting mothers to sleep poorly.

    Creating a bedtime routine, adding a pillow or two, and even sleeping in a specific position can help you get a better night's rest.

    Why Does Sleep Change During Pregnancy?

    Sleep changes during pregnancy due to a number of factors. Extra weight from the baby can make it difficult to sleep comfortably. Morning sickness can occur at any time, even in the middle of the night, and interrupt sleep. You may prefer sleeping on your stomach but find it uncomfortable with your baby bump. Hormonal changes, pregnancy-induced sleep apnea, and back pain may also cause sleep issues. And finally restless legs can occur as well.

    Sleep can change from trimester to trimester and pregnancy to pregnancy. It's important to recognize these changes and know how you can prevent them from disrupting your sleep. Not only does focusing on your sleep give you more energy during the day, but it can also help you have a healthier pregnancy. Sleep is important!

    Why Is Sleep So Important During Pregnancy?

    Sleep is important during pregnancy because it can help with the overall birth, the mothers health, the growth of your baby, as well as the delivery. Proper sleep can help reduce cortisol levels caused by stress, which many women experience during pregnancy. By reducing stress levels through proper sleep, you also help keep blood pressure at proper levels, which in turn, can reduce the risk of preeclampsia.

    Extra rest can make a great difference while pregnant. Getting good sleep at night, as well as adequate rest during the day can help make your pregnancy a more healthy and enjoyable experience.

    What Is the Best Position to Sleep in During Pregnancy?

    Some doctors recommend sleeping on the left side because it improves circulation to the heart and better allows blood flow to the fetus.

    Proper sleep positions while pregnant can help you feel more comfortable, as well as help you sleep better. The best position to sleep in during pregnancy is on your side. Although, it can be hard to make that transition if you usually sleep on your stomach or back. It can take a few weeks or months to get used to a new sleeping position when you've spent the majority of your life sleeping a certain way.

    If you do prefer to sleep on your back or stomach, there are some tips to help you sleep comfortably or to make the transition to sleeping on your side. From extra pillows to other techniques, you can improve your sleep while pregnant quickly and effectively.

    Sleeping on Your Back During Pregnancy

    You can sleep on your back while pregnant. Medical professionals recommend that if you do choose to sleep on your back, you sleep at an incline. Keep your head and chest elevated above your growing belly to help provide proper blood flow to your baby. This can also help with acid reflux and heartburn, common issues during pregnancy.

    An adjustable bed, several pillows to prop you up or a wedge can make sleeping on your back easier and more comfortable while pregnant.

    For more tips and recommendations for sleeping on your back read our back sleeping guide.

    Sleeping on Your Stomach During Pregnancy

    We do not recommend sleeping on your stomach while pregnant, especially during the last few months of pregnancy, but it is possible. Sleeping on your stomach during pregnancy can be uncomfortable. As the baby grows, sleeping on your stomach can cause unnecessary back pain and prevent you from sleeping well.

    If you find that sleeping on your stomach is the only way to get adequate rest, we recommend buying a donut-shaped pillow. This pillow allows you to cradle your growing tummy while keeping your spine in a more neutral position.

    Even before or after pregnancy, sleeping on your stomach comes with its fair share of downsides. To learn more about how to sleep on your stomach properly, you can check out our guide for stomach sleepers.

    Sleeping on Your Side During Pregnancy

    Most medical professionals recommend you sleep on your side during pregnancy. It tends to be the most comfortable position while pregnant to support you and your growing baby. Sleeping on your side helps to provide extra blood flow, as well as to aid in the delivery of oxygen to your baby.

    Many women find it comfortable to sleep with a body pillow to support their hips and legs. You can also support your body with pillows to keep you from rolling onto your stomach or back during the night.

    If you find it difficult to sleep on your side throughout the night, follow our tips and tricks for side sleepers.

    Reasons for Discomfort

    There are several reasons you may not be able to get comfortable as you sleep. Here's a small list of common discomforts and a solution for each.

    • Your growing tummy feels heavy - Try sleeping on your side or support your belly with a pillow.
    • Sleep apnea - Try sleeping elevated from the waist up to help you breathe more easily.
    • You get too hot during the night - Try sleeping on a mattress and pillow with better airflow.
    • Active Baby - Try a few relaxation techniques or a calming activity an hour before bed to help you and your growing baby wind down for the night.

    Additional Tips to Sleeping Better While Pregnant

    Even if you have had a hard time sleeping while pregnant in the past, you can get better sleep the next time around. If you're pregnant now, you can follow these additional tips to help you get a better night's rest from here on out:

    • Have a consistent bedtime with regular bedtime habits you follow nightly.
    • Eat a light snack, like crackers at bedtime to prevent any middle-of-the-night hunger or sickness.
    • Practice good sleep hygiene to promote consistent, uninterrupted sleep.
    • If this does not work speak with your doctor

    These tips and others we have mentioned can help you get better sleep while pregnant.

    How Can I Sleep More Comfortably During Pregnancy?

    Part of sleeping more comfortably while pregnant is having the right mattress. The right mattress can make a huge difference in your sleep quality. 

    If you're looking for a medium to medium-firm mattress, the Purple Plus mattress offers the perfect amount of comfort and support to help you sleep through the night.

    At Purple, we know sleep, and we want to help you get the sleep you deserve.


    Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping When Pregnant

    How much more do women sleep during pregnancy?

    Women can benefit from an extra hour or two of sleep while pregnant. Check with your doctor but we recommend aiming for seven to 10 hours of sleep each night, especially during the first trimester to help provide the energy for both you and your growing baby.

    Why do my hips hurt when I sleep while pregnant?

    Extra joint pressure while sleeping on your side and from the growth of your baby may contribute to hip pain. We recommend sleeping with a pillow between your legs to support your hips, as well as alternating from side to side to prevent unnecessary hip pain.

    What positions should be avoided during pregnancy?

    Avoid sleeping flat on your back during pregnancy. This can prevent proper blood flow to the baby while you sleep. Instead, sleep at an incline if you prefer to sleep on your back. We also don't recommend sleeping on your stomach, especially during the later months of pregnancy. If you choose to sleep on your stomach, we recommend a baby-bump pillow or multiple pillows for added cushioning and support.


    About the authors

    Cecilia Gillen

    Cecilia brings over five years of writing experience primarily centered around lifestyle and health topics. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Media and Journalism from the University of South Dakota. She’s both an advocate for sleep and a night owl at heart.