How can I get more sleep in pregnancy?

It’s common to feel unusually tired when you’re pregnant, especially in the first 12 weeks. Here’s some tips for getting a better night’s sleep.

It is common to feel very tired when you are pregnant, especially in the first 12 weeks.

Later in your pregnancy you may have trouble sleeping because: 

  • you feel uncomfortable as your bump gets bigger 
  • you are too hot due to hormonal changes and more blood circulating beneath your skin 
  • you need to wee more often because of the pressure on your bladder.

Losing sleep will not harm you or the baby, but it can make daily life more tiring.

Tips for better sleep in pregnancy 

There are things you can try to get more sleep. 

  • When you are lying on your side, place a pillow so it supports your bump, and a pillow between your knees. Some people find pregnancy pillows helpful. 

  • Try to stay active during the day even if you feel tired. Yoga, a swim or a walk may ease muscle aches and stiffness. Find out what kind of exercise you can do in pregnancy

  • Try to avoid caffeinated drinks such as tea, coffee and cola in the evening. Remember that in pregnancy you should have no more than 200mg of caffeine a day

  • Do not smoke or drink alcohol. Both can harm your baby  and they can stop you sleeping too.  

  • Try to relax before you go to bed. Get a relaxation or mindfulness app or create a soothing playlist. Some people find hypnobirthing helps ease stress and they sleep better.  

  • Stay away from screens in the hour before bedtime. There is research that suggests screen time affects sleep because the bright light can make you more awake and stop you winding down. 

  • Have a relaxing routine before bedtime, perhaps soaking in a warm bath, or reading a few pages of a book.  

  • See if you can re-organise your day. If you work, ask your manager if it is possible to change your hours or work from home. If you have other children, is there someone who can help with childcare for a few hours or the nursery or school run. This may help you catch a few more hours of sleep.

Sleep and medications 

Taking medications to help you sleep during pregnancy are not recommended. This includes: 

  • prescription sleeping tablets 
  • herbal medicines
  • over-the-counter sleeping aids.

Talk to your GP, midwife or hospital doctor if you feel your sleep loss is affecting your mental health or ability to do everyday tasks. 

Sleep and your mental health 

It’s normal to feel anxious during pregnancy and this can affect how well you sleep. There are so many things to think about, such as giving birth, work, money and childcare. Getting through the night can be even harder if you have always been prone to sleeping badly. 

Sometimes the fact that you are not sleeping makes you even more anxious. Remind yourself that tiredness will not harm you or the baby.  Periods of sleeplessness are normal in pregnancy. Sometimes, accepting it as part of pregnancy, rather than something to worry about, can really help your state of mind.  

Sleeplessness can be a sign of depression or anxiety. If you or your family have concerns regarding your mental wellbeing, please reach out to your GP or midwife. There is support available. Issues with your mental wellbeing are common in pregnancy. You are not alone.  

Mental health issues can be treated with the right help and support. Tell your midwife or doctor if you have any concerns about how you feel. 

Safe sleeping positions in pregnancy 

Research shows that going to sleep on your side in the third trimester (after 28 weeks) may help reduce the risk of stillbirth

You will sleep in lots of different positions. But the important thing to remember is to start on your side. Don’t worry if you wake up on your back, just roll back on to your side.  

It does not matter which side you go to sleep on. The research did not find a difference between the right or left.  


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NHS. Insomnia (Page last reviewed: 12 March 2021 Next review: 12 March 2024)

NHS. Zopiclone. 

NHS. Diphenhydramine. (Page last reviewed: 14 October 2021 Next review due: 14 October 2024)

Mahmoudian A et al. Effects of valerian consumption during pregnancy on cortical volume and the levels of zinc and copper in the brain tissue of mouse fetus. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2012 Apr;10(4):424-9. doi: 10.3736/jcim20120411. PMID: 22500716.

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Review dates
Reviewed: 27 June 2023
Next review: 27 June 2026