How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Sleep?
Sleep is essential for everyone’s health and well-being, no matter what stage of life they’re in. But how many hours should a pregnant woman sleep? The answer might surprise you!
In this article, the sleep experts at Newton Baby explain why sleep is so important, especially when you’re pregnant. We’ll also talk about the stages of sleep and break down sleep patterns by trimester so you know what to expect as your belly and your baby grow over the next nine months.
Lastly, we’ll give you tips to help relieve some of the most common sleep problems you’ll face over the course of your pregnancy.
Table Of Contents
- Why Sleep Matters
- The 4 Stages Of Sleep
- Reasons Why Sleep Can Be Difficult
- How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Sleep?
- How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Sleep By Trimester
- Tips For A Good Night Sleep
Why Sleep Matters
Before we get to the question of how many hours should a pregnant woman sleep, let’s explore why sleep matters so much in the first place. As you’ll see, sleep is crucial for every function of your body — and your little bun in the oven.
Vital Body Functions
During non-REM sleep, your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure all go down, giving your body a break from the day’s activity. Sleeping adequately while pregnant will give your body the energy it needs to attend to your growing little one.
While you sleep, your brain is actively preparing to learn, remember, and create. According to the National Institute of Health, while you catch your zzzs, the brain functions almost like a kidney by removing toxins and waste.
This will help you be more alert and productive when you awaken and will also help you focus more easily on what you need to learn about parenting.
Your emotions are regulated by the part of your brain called the amygdala. When you don’t have enough sleep, it becomes overactive, which can cause you to be irritable and frustrated.
Healthy Immune System
Sleep is also directly connected to the immune system. Without the proper amount of sleep, cells that do important jobs like fighting off viruses and diseases cannot work as well.
Lack of sleep is also associated with greater inflammation, which has the potential to increase the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders. While you’re pregnant, you don’t want to add any more challenges to your hardworking body.
Blood Sugar Control
When you don’t get enough sleep, your blood sugar can be more difficult to regulate. This is due to a disruption of your blood glucose system and can make you insulin-resistant and more at risk for gestational diabetes.
Poor sleep can lead to poor circulation, increasing the risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease and stroke.
It’s pretty obvious by now that the goal is to have a good night’s sleep and to avoid all of the negative things that come from not getting enough shuteye when you’re pregnant.
With enough sleep, not only do you get sick less often and have a better chance of maintaining a healthy weight, but you’ll also be less stressed, think more clearly, and be at a lower risk for serious health issues and injuries.
Now that we know how much sleep matters, let’s take a look at the various stages of sleep.
The 4 Stages Of Sleep
Stage 1 NREM
Stages one, two, and three of NREM are the three stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep. The first stage is the lightest stage of sleep, only lasting one to five minutes per cycle.
Stage 2 NREM
Stage 2 NREM is a deeper sleep, consisting of 45% of each sleep cycle. During this stage, your heart and body temperature drop and memory consolidation occurs in the brain. If you’re a teeth-grinder, this is the stage of sleep when that most likely happens.
Stage 3 NREM
Stage 3 NREM, or slow-wave sleep, is the deepest stage, when the body is busy doing all the heavy lifting, from repairing and regrowing tissue to building bone and muscle to giving a boost to your immune system.
This is generally the sleep stage that people talk about, probably because this cycle is when dreams occur. However, this isn’t considered a very restful sleep stage. In fact, during this stage, your brain works much like it does when you’re awake.
Your body goes through these stages about four to five times a night. Uninterrupted sleep means you move from stage to stage without stirring, which is optimal for you and your baby.
Reasons Why Sleep Can Be Difficult
Unfortunately, when you’re pregnant, having uninterrupted sleep can feel impossible for a host of reasons. Let’s take a look at them.
A physical condition (e.g., pregnancy) is making it difficult for you to find a good sleep position, and you’re not able to get to sleep or stay asleep due to your discomfort. This becomes more of an issue as the pregnancy progresses, for obvious reasons.
Insomnia refers to a range of sleep issues, from having trouble falling asleep, to staying asleep, to not getting good quality sleep. It can be caused by stress and can last for days or even weeks.
It’s considered chronic if it occurs three or more days a week, over three months, and has no other explanation. Unfortunately, insomnia is very common when you are pregnant.
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious condition where your breathing stops and starts over and over. Snoring loudly and then feeling tired the next day even when you’ve clocked in the requisite hours might indicate you have sleep apnea.
When you’re pregnant, you’re more at risk of sleep apnea because, with more estrogen, you get more nasal congestion that can lead to a constriction of airflow.
Don’t despair. Although it’s harder, with the tips we have listed later in the article, you’ll be able to maximize your bedtime hours.
But first, let’s answer the question of how many hours you should be sleeping when you’re expecting a little miracle.
How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Sleep?
In answer to the question, “How many hours should a pregnant woman sleep?” most doctors recommend eight to 10 hours per night.
But any mom who’s gone through a pregnancy will tell you that isn’t always possible. As mentioned, there are countless problems that could interfere with your sleep, and you may not be able to reach the nine or 10 hours you want.
That being said, do your best to spend at least eight hours in bed with the goal to get as much sleep as you can. If you find yourself only getting seven hours of sleep each night, don’t get discouraged — that only leads to more sleepless nights!
Try some of the tips we discuss later on in this article to find your own unique answer to the question, “How many hours should a pregnant woman sleep?”
Do what feels right for your body and your baby, and everything will be fine.
How Many Hours Should A Pregnant Woman Sleep By Trimester?
During the first trimester, your body undergoes a lot of changes, both mentally and physically. This is because your hormones are in flux while your metabolism is high.
Even if you’re less active during the day, your body is still dealing with some pretty significant stress. If you don’t compensate for this strain, you’ll become exhausted very quickly.
Things like morning sickness, headaches, and breast tenderness can impede your sleep when you’re in your first trimester. Additionally, constipation and bloating, as well as sleep apnea is common in the first trimester and make it harder for you to catch your zzzs.
That being said, it’s very important for you to focus on your sleep, both for your own sake and for the baby’s. Sleep issues during this time have been linked to gestational diabetes and high blood pressure in the third trimester.
First-time mothers should plan their sleep the way they plan the rest of their day. The same goes for mothers of multiple children, and that might require the help of friends and family members.
Schedule a nap if you feel you need it. And always go to bed at night at the same time — even if you don’t fall asleep right away — so your body gets used to the new timetable.
During the second trimester of your pregnancy, your sleep may actually improve from what it was in the first trimester. The progesterone spike from the first trimester has mostly leveled off, rising much more slowly now, and morning sickness should largely subside.
Your body is now used to the changes that started in the first three months, so you may feel more energetic. Don’t let this new-found energy disrupt your good sleep habits!
During the second trimester, there are things that might be getting in the way of your needed shut-eye, namely nasal congestion, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or leg cramping, and vivid dreams. You might also suffer heartburn or indigestion.
On top of all of these things, your baby is getting more active, and if they’re a night owl, you’re going to know it.
Although you can’t do much about your baby’s favorite time to play, for everything else, concentrate on a good healthy diet and exercise while keeping in touch with your doctor for any concerns.
Also, resist the temptation to pack your day full of activity just because you feel better. And, by all means, continue to get as much sleep as possible.
The third trimester is the toughest of the three when it comes to the question of how many hours a pregnant woman should sleep each night. Your baby bump takes up the larger part of the bed, and finding a good position (and sometimes repositioning during the night) is not easy.
From back pain to trouble getting comfortable to your little one kicking at odd hours, the last three months are full of problems that will keep you from getting the eight to 10 hours of sleep you need to feel your best.
But it’s important. When you’re not sleeping well, you’re more at risk for a number of problems, including preeclampsia and preterm birth. Sleeping less than six hours a night during the last month of your pregnancy is linked to longer labor and the need for a Cesarean.
If you find yourself getting sleepy during the middle of the day because of poor sleep at night, take a nap if your schedule permits.
And, as we mentioned earlier, try not to stress over how much sleep you’re getting — you’ve got enough to worry about right now! Just do your best to get as much sleep as possible.
Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep
Upgrade Your Mattress
One of the best ways to satisfy the experts’ advice about the question, “How many hours should a pregnant woman sleep?” is to upgrade your mattress. A soft, supportive mattress will help you relax at night, fall asleep faster, and stay that way longer.
This important piece of baby furniture is essential to your little one’s health and happiness. Not to mention long, uninterrupted sleep for both of you!
For more information about furnishing your newborn’s room, take a few minutes to read these helpful articles:
- Baby Crib Sets: What To Look For When Furnishing Your Nursery
- Baby Cradles: The Complete Guide To Buying The Safest Cradle
- Bassinet Mattress Buyer’s Guide: 4 Tips For Choosing The Right Mattress
Be Consistent With Your Sleep Schedule
We know this can be tough, but a surefire way to figure out for yourself how many hours of sleep you need is to be as consistent as possible with your sleep schedule.
Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every morning prepares your body to relax and wind down at bedtime. You also want to follow a strict routine, staying off your phone (and away from any blue light).
You might grab a book to read for a half-hour before trying to drift off for the night. In addition, be sure your room is conducive to sleep — quiet, cool, and dark. If you’re not asleep in 20 minutes, consider getting up and doing a rote task rather than fretting.
Then, tuck yourself in again once your body is more sleep-ready and close your eyes. The results? Falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer!
We understand there’s a lot to do with a new baby on the way. If the specter of all of these obligations is keeping you awake, it’s time to start a new ritual. Before bed each night, get out a notebook and write down your “to-dos” for the next day.
This will put your mind at ease as you put your head on the pillow because you’re organized for the next day. We promise tomorrow’s check marks are going to feel good!
Cool The Heartburn
At some point during your pregnancy, you’ll likely suffer from heartburn.
The burning in your chest or throat can wake you up in the middle of the night and ruin a perfectly good night’s sleep. Or this form of indigestion can keep you from falling asleep in the first place.
To cool the heartburn, avoid spicy foods as much as possible and cut down on rich foods for dinner.
You might want to try to eat smaller meals earlier in the evening and take it slow, giving time to savor every bite. This will be easier on your digestive system and will make it less likely to result in heartburn.
Watch Your Diet
Speaking of foods, in order to maximize your chances of a restful night’s sleep, you want to also avoid tea, coffee, soda, or (sorry!) chocolate in the evening.
Relax Restless Legs
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) — a nearly irresistible urge to move your legs — is a very real problem for pregnant women. Unfortunately, you can’t take traditional medication for this issue when you’re pregnant.
To combat the feelings of restless legs syndrome, try to get some exercise during the day — even a walk can help — and be sure to take a good prenatal vitamin that includes folate and iron.
Get Comfortable With A Pregnancy Pillow
Whether you just found out you’re pregnant or your little one is due any day now, a pregnancy pillow is a great addition to your nighttime routine.
A pregnancy pillow can be used to support your back, belly, hips, shoulders, head, and legs — sometimes all at the same time! — as your body grows and changes during pregnancy.
Some pregnancy pillows are simple wedge- or bean-shaped cushions for your belly or lower back. Others are large, tube-shaped cushions that provide support for your whole body.
The largest pregnancy pillows even offer 360 degrees of support to help you sleep comfortably during your first, second, and third trimesters. Newton Baby’s pregnancy pillow is a U-shaped pillow, made of a revolutionary memory foam and fiber blend core.
With a detachable extension, our pillow is extra-versatile giving added comfort and support no matter what stage of pregnancy you are, or how you prefer to sleep.
Keep Daytime Naps Short
As we mentioned earlier, a daytime nap may become an essential part of your day-to-day activity. That’s OK! Just keep your naps short or you run the risk of not being able to fall asleep at night.
The best time for most to nap is midafternoon, but find the routine that works best for you. Set an alarm for 20 to 40 minutes (try not to go over an hour), and then catch some zzzs.
Consider doing a light form of exercise after you wake up so you’re not so energized at night that you can’t fall asleep.
Prevent Nausea Before Bed
Morning sickness can happen at any time during pregnancy. When it occurs at night, it’s especially harmful to your sleep routine.
To prevent nausea before bed, try eating some crackers a few minutes before lying down. Saltines are our favorite and do a great job of dampening the waves of nausea that can hit any time when you’re pregnant.
It’s also a good idea to keep a few crackers next to your bed in case you wake up nauseated in the middle of the night.
Reduce Midnight Bathroom Breaks
When your baby gets big enough, there will be times when they’re pushing on your bladder. In fact, you may find yourself waking up multiple times during the night to use the restroom!
Though you can’t prevent your little one from using your bladder as a punching bag, you can minimize nighttime bathroom trips by reducing the amount of liquid you drink in the evenings.
Continue to drink plenty of water during the day, but stop your liquid intake three to four hours before bedtime. This will give your body time to process a lot of the water out of your system so your bladder won’t be as full in the middle of the night.
Taking Care Of Yourself And Your Baby
Taking care of yourself and your baby is vital for your family’s mental and physical health! And the answer to the question of how many hours should a pregnant woman sleep is as close to eight to 10 hours as she can.
Follow the tips on this list to get as much sleep as possible while you’re pregnant. And prepare early to give your newborn a safe, comfy night’s sleep as well by furnishing their nursery with a Crib Mattress from Newton Baby.
With our Wovenaire® and Breathe-Thru technologies built into every mattress, you can rest easy, secure in the fact that your baby will get the best, safest night’s sleep possible — even if they accidentally roll over onto their stomach.
That’s peace of mind — and long, uninterrupted sleep — you can’t get anywhere else!
For more information on helping your baby sleep through the night and to check out our crib mattresses, sheets, pads, and swaddles, visit NewtonBaby.com today.