How should I position myself for sleep during pregnancy?

To minimize discomfort during sleep:

  • Favor your left side. Research suggests that lying on your left side can help improve blood flow to your baby and to your body. Also, try to keep one or both knees bent. Don't worry, however, if you wake up in a different position.
  • Use pillows. To prevent discomfort, consider using pregnancy or support pillows between your bent knees, under your abdomen and behind your back.
  • Elevate your head. Elevating the head of your bed can prevent or decrease heartburn or snoring.

What can I do to rest comfortably?

You can take steps to manage sleep disturbances during pregnancy. For example:

  • Maintain a sleep routine. Regularly go to bed and wake up at the same time. If you need more sleep, try napping early in the day.
  • Watch your fluids. Drink plenty of fluids during the day. To prevent frequent urination at night, cut down on how much you drink late in the day.
  • Eat healthy foods. Strive for a balanced diet rich in vitamins. A healthy diet can help you improve your energy levels and keep your pregnancy weight gain on target. To prevent heartburn, eat small, frequent meals and avoid fried foods, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits or juices, and spicy foods.
  • Keep active. Regular physical activity during pregnancy might help prevent excess weight gain and leg cramps, as well as help reduce stress and boost energy. Although exercise is safe for most pregnant women, make sure you have your health care provider's OK before beginning an exercise program.
  • Stretch. Stretching your calf muscles before bed may help prevent leg cramps during pregnancy.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Breathing techniques, in particular, can help reduce tension.
  • Use nasal saline sprays or mechanical nasal dilators. These can relieve the nasal congestion that often occurs during pregnancy. Also, avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Set the mood. A dark, quiet and comfortably cool environment can help encourage sleep.
  • Relieve pain safely. If minor pain caused by muscle stretching or your increased weight during the late stages of pregnancy is keeping you up, occasional use of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) might help.

If you continue to have trouble sleeping during pregnancy or you're concerned about your fatigue, talk to your health care provider.

March 27, 2013 See more In-depth