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Pregnant and sleep deprived? Tips to cope.

You expect to be sleep deprived after your baby arrives—not before. But getting a decent night's sleep during your third trimester can be a big challenge.

The homestretch of pregnancy is full of sleep snatchers. A big one is your growing tummy, which can make it hard to get comfy. Among the others: nightly bathroom runs, your baby's kicks, heartburn, leg cramps and anticipation (and even anxiety) about what's ahead. You might even develop restless leg syndrome (RLS), a disorder that disrupts sleep.

Ways to cope

Here's some reassuring news: Some fairly simple steps can help you toss and turn less. For example:

Find your favorite sleeping position. Try nodding off on your side. And make it the left one to boost the flow of blood to your baby. Use pillows for support—behind your back and tucked between your knees.

Sip smart. Drink plenty of fluids during the day, particularly water. But scale back on how much you sip as bedtime nears. This will help you cut down on the late-night bathroom trips.

Wind down. Try a relaxing exercise—like prenatal yoga—before pulling up the covers. Or soak in a soothing warm bath.

Respond with the right remedy. To head off heartburn, go easy on spicy, fried or acidic foods. And eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. Bothered by leg cramps? Make sure you drink plenty of water and get enough magnesium. As for RLS, know its signature symptom: unpleasant feelings in your legs that worsen at night and are relieved by movement. Tell your provider if you suspect you have RLS and ask if you could have an iron deficiency.

Not nodding off yet?

If you can't sleep, don't stay stranded in bed trying to force it. This may seem counterintuitive, but get up and do something else until you're drowsy—read a book, knit something for your baby or listen to calming music.

You can also catch up for lost sleep with a daytime nap or two. But if this daytime compensation makes it tough to doze off later, nap less—or earlier in the day.

And put a night-light in the bathroom. It's less rousing than turning on a bright light. So you'll fall back to sleep more easily.

More pregnancy news

Besides helping you sleep, yoga has some surprising benefits when you're expecting. Discover more reasons prenatal yoga is good for moms-to-be.

Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; March of Dimes; National Sleep Foundation; Office on Women's Health

Reviewed 2/2/2022

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