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Sleep Patterns During the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

By Caitlynn Lowe ; Updated June 13, 2017

The majority of women have the greatest difficulty sleeping during their third trimester of pregnancy. Physical and chemical changes in your body lead to discomfort at night, making sleep fleeting. You can often reduce these discomforts, but you will probably not eliminate them entirely. Ask your doctor for advice if your sleep loss becomes too severe.

Discomfort and Sleep Patterns in General

As your baby grows and your stomach increases in size, the number of positions you can comfortably switch into as you sleep reduces, but your body will likely still try moving into these positions anyway. When you turn into the wrong position, the additional weight puts pressure on your organs and causes you to wake up. For most women, this happens every few hours during the third trimester. As a result, falling into deep sleep rarely happens.

Bladder Problems

Regardless of what position you sleep in, your growing baby will put pressure on your bladder, prompting you to wake up for bathroom trips more frequently than before. BabyCenter recommends reducing the amount of fluids you consume in the late afternoon and evening to help reduce this need. Get the bulk of your hydration in the morning and early afternoon, instead. You should also empty your bladder completely during each bathroom trip.

Leg Cramps and Restless Legs

The pressure put on your legs from carrying around your baby during the day may cause leg cramps and restless leg syndrome at night. Take a warm bath to help relax your legs before bed. KidsHealth recommends pressing your feet against the wall or standing up if you get a leg cramp in the middle of the night. Calcium also helps reduce cramps; and iron, magnesium and vitamin B12 may help reduce restless legs.


The hormonal changes that come with pregnancy often cause increased heartburn, which may awaken you at night. Avoid carbonated drinks, chocolate, acidic food, spicy food, fatty food and other heartburn triggers to reduce symptoms. Elevate your head and chest during sleep to keep your stomach acids in your stomach. If necessary, talk to your doctor about recommending a safe antacid.


Anxiety during pregnancy is normal, but some women find themselves losing sleep over their baby-related worries. Reduce anxiety by enrolling in a parenting class or support group. Avoid reading too much information online, especially before bed, and only use online sources to answer immediate questions. Otherwise, you may experience information overload and stress yourself out more.

Additional Tips

The Cleveland Clinic recommends using pillows to support your stomach and back. Putting a pillow between your legs proves especially helpful in supporting your lower back and may help keep you sleeping on your side -- a more comfortable sleeping position than your back during the third trimester. KidsHealth also recommends taking short half hour or hour naps throughout the day to make up for your lack of sleep at night. Napping in a recliner may help reduce the pressure.

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