How to handle sleep problems during pregnancy

by Kaiser Permanente |
Pregnant woman sleeping in bed with pillows.

Good sleep is essential for you and your growing baby. However, it’s completely normal to have trouble sleeping during pregnancy.

If you find yourself feeling tired, here are some steps you can take to help you sleep better each night.

Sleep challenges during pregnancy

Your changing body can make it difficult to sleep well when you’re pregnant. Your baby might also be active, so it’s possible you’ll feel them kicking more often. You may also have symptoms like:

  • Breathlessness
  • Early contractions
  • Leg cramps
  • Urge to urinate often

When you lie on your back, your growing uterus puts extra weight on a large vein in your abdomen known as the vena cava. This can cause a drop in your blood pressure and other symptoms like dizziness or lightheadedness. As your pregnancy progresses, it’s better to find other sleeping positions.

If you feel uncomfortable on your back, try rolling onto your side and using a pillow under your belly and between your legs to help support your body. You can also try placing a pillow behind your back. Some people use a longer, maternity-style body pillow for added support.

Tips for better rest

There’s more you can do to get better sleep. Be sure to:

  • Eat a light snack or drink a glass of milk before bedtime, unless you have heartburn
  • Get regular exercise throughout your day, but avoid it right before bed
  • Take a warm, not hot, shower or bath before going to bed
  • Try relaxation exercises

Apps like Calm and myStrength can help you learn and practice relaxation exercises. Kaiser Permanente clinicians often recommend them to promote relaxation.

Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

myStrength® is a trademark of Livongo Health, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Teladoc Health, Inc.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.