From Sleep Apnea to RLS: How to Prevent Pregnancy Sleep Problems

When you decided to have a baby, you fully expected to lose sleep once the baby was born. But did you know your lack of sleep could begin as soon as you conceived? When you are pregnant there’s a double whammy on your sleeping abilities: erratic hormones and the added weight of your uterus. These two things can cause an array of sleep issues throughout your pregnancy. Here are the main things stopping you from getting shut-eye and what you can do about them.

Leg Cramps

The cause of leg cramps in pregnancy isn’t officially unknown, but according to they are probably caused by the huge amount of pressure that your uterus puts on the blood vessels and nerves that lead to your legs. While your uterus is there to stay, there are a few things you can do to prevent your legs from cramping. For starters, try lying on your left side. This is the ideal position to allow the highest level of blood flow to your legs. You also want to hydrate during the day and stretch your calves before heading to bed.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Your poor legs definitely get the short end of the stick during pregnancy. RLS is a true sleep stopper. There are many tried-and-true remedies to stop this ultra-annoying condition. You can stretch, massage your legs (or have your significant other do it), use a heating pad, or even eat some bananas (the potassium is believed to help).


As your uterus grows, it crowds your stomach. What this means for you is that you will probably experience heartburn at some point in your pregnancy. This heartburn is so severe it can prevent you from getting the sleep you so desperately need. To stave off this problem you can eat smaller meals, avoid food at least two hours before bed, and elevate your upper body with pillows.

Frequent Urination

The need to pee constantly is a recurring theme among pregnancy jokes, but it is no laughing matter when you’re the pregnant one. In your first trimester, the hormones and increased blood flow cause way-too-often urination, and in the third trimester you have the added weight of your uterus and pressure on your bladder. The good news is that the second trimester does provide some relief. The only real solution to this problem is to drink less water two hours before bed. Just make sure to drink extra during the morning and afternoon so you get enough for your pregnant body to flourish.


Even if you don’t suffer from any of the above ailments, you still may not be able to sleep. Perhaps it’s the never-ending thoughts of what your baby is going to be like, if everything is going to be okay and if you’re going to be a good mom — relax, you are! Or maybe you just can’t get comfortable no matter what you try. Pillows can be very helpful when you find yourself tossing and turning. A pregnancy pillow is the best option because it is specifically created to support your belly and tuck between your knees simultaneously (you can find them at Macy’s for $34). A meditation routine before bed may also be beneficial.

Remember, pregnancy-induced insomnia is temporary. Once your bundle of joy arrives you can go back to sleeping like normal, or as normal as sleeping gets with a newborn, anyway.

About the Author: Tamara McLellan recently quit teaching third grade to be a full-time mom (she is expecting her first this fall). Writing has been the only thing keeping her sane in between bouts of morning sickness.

From Sleep Apnea to RLS: How to Prevent Pregnancy Sleep Problems 2
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