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4 Top Tips for Sleeping Better in Pregnancy

Jennifer Bright on

It feels like a bit of a cruel joke that moms-to-be struggle with sleep -- during their last few months before their babies start waking them up at night. Many things conspire to make it hard for pregnant women to sleep, including restless legs syndrome, vivid dreams and aches and pains.

Around 15% of pregnant women develop a mysterious condition called restless legs syndrome, or RLS. This neurological condition causes you to have a strong urge to move your legs, especially in bed at night or when you're resting. Some people say that RLS feels like creeping, itching, pulling, crawling or tugging. All of them would agree that RLS feels uncomfortable. The best news is that it usually goes away after your baby is born.

Some people with RLS find that it helps to eliminate caffeine and to take a warm bath and massage their legs before going to bed. If you're having a hard time falling asleep, it might help to get up and walk around for a few minutes and then try to sleep again. You might want to talk with your doctor or midwife about your iron levels because some research suggests a link between iron deficiency and RLS.

Vivid dreams might also interfere with your sleep. During pregnancy, your mind is working overtime, and some of that can spill over into sleep. It's very common for pregnant women to have detailed, vivid dreams and to remember them more often than usual.

Some experts think that dreaming is your subconscious mind's way of working out feelings and replaying ideas and thoughts about what has happened to you. Dreaming might help you to sort out your feelings and concerns and prepare you for being a mom. Other experts think that pregnancy hormones cause this increased dreaming. Another reason why you might be dreaming more is because you're sleeping more. Plus, you're waking up to go to the bathroom more, so the dreams might be easier to recall than if you slept the whole night through.

Here's what our Mommy M.D.s -- doctors who are also mothers -- do to sleep better during pregnancy.

"During my pregnancy, I couldn't stop moving my legs, especially at night," says Sonia Ng, M.D., a mom of two sons, a pediatrician and a sedation attending physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Pediatric Care and the University Medical Center at Princeton, and the Pediatric Imaging Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. "It was hard to sleep. My husband couldn't sleep in the same bed because I kept kicking him."

"I found that sleeping with a pillow between my legs helped," Ng adds. "And thank goodness, the restless legs syndrome went away after my baby was born."


"During my pregnancies, I had very vivid dreams," says Gina Dado, M.D., a mom of two daughters and an OB-GYN with Arizona OBGYN Affiliates, Paradise Valley branch, in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I never dreamed about the baby. I just dreamed all sorts of other crazy things."

"One natural thing that happens during pregnancy is dreaming," says Nancy Rappaport, M.D., a mom of three grown children, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, an attending child and adolescent psychiatrist in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, public schools and author of "The Behavior Code." "I found that keeping my journal next to my bed and jotting down my dreams was very instructive."

"During my last pregnancy, I had horrible hip pain," says Kristie McNealy, M.D., a mom of four and a health care consultant in Salt Lake City. "The pain started right at the beginning of my third trimester. If I sat too long in any position or did too much activity, my hips and pubic bone got very sore. It helped to be careful about how I sleep. I would lie with a pillow between my knees, and when I rolled over, I moved both legs together at the same time. Otherwise, I would wake up and couldn't move! Also, I found resting with a heating pad on my hip set on low for 10 to 15 minutes loosens it up. Warm baths helped it, too."

When to Call the Doctor or Midwife

If you are having problems falling or staying asleep during pregnancy, such as from restless legs, talk with your doctor or midwife about it at your next appointment.

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate Inc.



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