Whether you already have a baby on the way or are pondering the prospect of parenthood, how to sleep when pregnant is an issue that often pops up. You probably already know that we spend around a third of our lives in bed. So getting a good night’s sleep is important for everyone.

No more so, surely, than when you’re sleeping for two rather than one. Getting a good night’s rest can be key when it comes to the health and wellbeing of you and your baby. If you’re wondering how to sleep during pregnancy, then this guide can provide a few simple pointers.

First of all, let’s have a look at why sleep patterns can be affected by pregnancy.

The relationship between pregnancy and sleep

The first thing you need to know is this. If you’re struggling with tiredness during your pregnancy, then you really are far from alone! Tiredness is so common throughout the nine months.

So why is this the case? It’s often down to hormonal changes. These can make you feel more emotional, a little nauseous - and of course oh so drowsy when a baby is growing inside you.

It’s not always only hormones at play here. Carrying a considerable amount of additional weight can also make you feel tired. As can the lack of sleep than can be caused by your bump getting in the way, or the little one keeping you awake by kicking throughout the night. Or your constant need for the loo.  

What can you do about it? Getting as much rest as possible is one way to tackle the problem. But that can be easier said than done.

If you’re struggling with sleep when you’re pregnant, here are a few hacks. These should help you get enough rest for both of you (or even three if you’re expecting twins).

5 ways to sleep when pregnant

eat healthy food when pregnant

1. You are what you eat

Having a healthy diet is never more important than when you’re pregnant. If you are what you eat, then your baby will be too. So getting plenty of calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals is crucial. Plus enough carbs for energy.

What you eat can also have an effect during pregnancy because of indigestion. Heartburn is so common in pregnancy. Which means that you can treat indigestion in pregnancy in the same way as usual.

The NHS advises indigestion sufferers to avoid eating during the last few hours before bed. Avoiding foods that can trigger indigestion can also help. Generally, this means eliminating those that are very fatty, spicy or rich.

Taking a little care over what you eat and when really can help with the answer to how to sleep while pregnant.

2. Ward off insomnia

Whether you’re someone who suffers from insomnia in general or it’s new to you since you fell pregnant, the measures that can combat it can be helpful to follow.

One way to deal with sleepless nights is to catch up on sleep during the day - if you can. When a daytime nap is a possibility, seize the opportunity: you may never have a better excuse. If not, try taking early nights as often as is practical.

Avoid caffeine from late afternoon onwards, and shut down screens some time before bed. Instead, try taking a warm bath, reading a magazine or book or listening to some music to help you drift off.

Getting some gentle exercise during the day can also really help ensure you get sufficient rest at night. Walking and swimming are perfect, or try some ante-natal exercise classes to see which suits you best.

to be more comfortable sleep on your side

3. Sleep on your side

Sleeping on your left or right side is far better for you and your baby than sleeping on your back. According to the Tommy’s and the NHS, falling asleep on your back even doubles your risk of stillbirth. It’s thought that falling asleep in this position may restrict the developing baby’s supply of oxygen and blood.

Waking up on your back isn’t a problem, however. What matters is the position you fall asleep in. Putting a pillow between the knees can help make this position more comfortable. So when asking “how should a pregnant woman sleep”, on either side is the best possible answer.

4. Stay cool

Whether you’re pregnant throughout the summer months or not, staying cool can really help when it comes to falling asleep. And staying that way for hours at a time.

So how can you prevent overheating at night? Layer up your bedding - try using a sheet, a thin duvet and a bedspread instead of one thicker duvet. That way you can remove one or more of these when required. A loose nightdress can also be more comfortable than pyjamas.

Letting a little of the nighttime breeze into your room may also help. Keep a window open if you can - even just a crack will help with airflow and stop the bedroom from getting too hot and stuffy.

Investing in a silk pillowcase can also help you to stay cool. This is because silk is naturally thermoregulating. In other words, it can keep you cool during summer as well as warmer in winter.

use extra pillows when sleeping when pregnant

5. Use extra pillows

Using additional pillows can also be an answer to how you should sleep when pregnant. These can be regular pillows, or you may prefer a pregnancy or V-shaped pillow. (The latter can also be useful when you’re feeding your baby, so it’s a worthwhile investment.) Maternity pillows come in different shapes and sizes.

So how should you use a pregnancy pillow? You can buy those shaped like a U, and these are really easy to get used to. The shortest part of the U, in the middle, is used like a regular pillow. You can then place one of the longer ends between your knees to help you fall asleep on your side. The other side can be used to support your back from behind. It’s a bit like being cuddled by a gigantic soft toy. Aww!

If you fancy treating yourself or a pregnant person you know to a white silk pillowcase to keep them cool, why not shop for one here and now?

February 21, 2023 — Michelle Fletcher Smith