7 Important Sleeping Tips During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy

As you enter the third trimester, you may notice that certain discomforts have heightened. You may have to make various changes in different activities, including sleep. Knowing some effective sleeping tips during the third trimester of pregnancy can help you get a sound sleep.

Difficulty in walking, standing up or sitting down, and sleeping is normal towards the end of pregnancy due to the growing size of your belly. While other problems can be taken care of with some support, you may not sleep comfortably despite the continuous change of positions. This can be due to other additional reasons besides the big stomach.

Read on to know more about it, including the importance of sleep posture, common interferences, and tips to sleep comfortably during the third trimester.

In This Article

Understanding Best Sleeping Positions During Third Trimester

It is believed that throughout your pregnancy, sleeping on your left side is probably the best. It allows the perfect passage of blood and nutrients to your baby (1). At the same time, this position also keeps you from feeling all the undesirable symptoms of pregnancy (2).

  • Sleeping on your back tends to cause nausea and morning sickness (3), and also affects the baby’s nutrition and blood supply.
protip_icon Research finds
A case-control study showed that sleeping on your back throughout the night when pregnant might increase the risk of stillbirthiXDeath of the fetus after 20 weeks after pregnancy (11).
Sleeping on your back during pregnancy may cause nausea and morning sickness

Image: IStock

  • While sleeping on your front… well, that’s not exactly going to be possible now, is it (2)!

If you are not comfortable sleeping on your left side, it’s always better to start the habit while you are trying to conceive so as to avoid the uneasiness later.

Common Sleep Disturbances

Obviously, the most common sleep issue concern during the third trimester is your baby bump, which is probably too big to allow you to sleep comfortably. Plus, just like your early pregnancy days, you will now need to rush to the loo several times, since your growing baby’s putting some pressure on your bladder, decreasing its capacity (4).

Kimberly Langdon, MD, ob/gyn and CEO of Physician Integrative Laboratories, says, “Sleep may be difficult to achieve during the third trimester of pregnancy. Multiple factors contribute to this, such as finding a comfortable sleeping position, the urge to urinate throughout the night, acid reflux issues, and the typical lower back pain in pregnancy.”

Apart from these issues, other “nightly” niggles that may get in the way of restful sleep during the third trimester includes (5):

  • Leg cramps
  • Vivid dreams
  • Snoring
  • Backache
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Itching
  • Heartburn
  • Movements of your baby
protip_icon Caution
Lack of sleep during pregnancy may increase the risk of gestationaliXTime spent in the uterus from conception to birth of the baby diabetes, preeclampsia, cesarean delivery and may also cause prolonged labor (12).
Backache may disturb sleep during pregnancy

Image: IStock

Important Sleeping Tips During Third Trimester

While the above-mentioned symptoms are temporary and will nag you only for the last trimester of your pregnancy, you can still tackle most of them by yourself and get a good night’s sleep. Follow these simple tips to avoid bad sleeping positions during pregnancy third trimester (5) (6) (7).

  1. Use pillows and cushions to get into a comfortable position during sleep. If possible, invest in a curved pregnancy pillow that is available in leading maternity stores.

    Use pillows and cushions to get into a comfortable sleeping position

    Image: Shutterstock

  2. Try sleeping on your left side and wedging pillows between your legs and behind your back for some extra support.
  3. Slip into loose, comfortable nightwear and avoid tight clothing. Stick to breathable cotton fabrics that get you all comfortable and in the ‘feeling’ of sleep.
  4. Lying down on the bed may not exactly be comfortable during the third trimester. If you find yourself cozier on a comfy chair or a sofa, go ahead and doze off.

    Doze off on a sofa if that is more comfortable

    Image: Shutterstock

  5. Consume light food at dinner. Avoid spicy foods since they tend to cause heartburn that usually aggravates during the night. Also, avoid nighttime snacks.
protip_icon Quick tip
Drink plenty of water throughout the day, but limit it at nighttime, so as to reduce the frequency of toilet breaks and thus, getting a good night’s sleep when pregnant (2).
  1. Try some light exercise and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, under the supervision of a trainer of course. This will relax you and give your body a good supply of oxygen, which will help you sleep better.
  1. About 15 minutes before getting into bed, try and get away from all distractions and allow your mind to relax. Stick to positive thoughts and you’ll find it easier to doze off.
  2. Sleeping on the left side can cause pressure pains over time. Try to alternate between the left and the right side.

    Sleeping on the left side can cause pressure pains over time

    Image: IStock

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does sleeping on the right side harm the baby?

The National Institute of Health states that sleeping on the right side could compress the central artery that carries blood to the upper and lower abdomen and the inferior vena cava (the vein that carries deoxygenated blood from the lower parts of the body to the heart). This obstruction might cause preeclampsia and may impact the development of a fetus (8).

2. Can I hurt my baby by sleeping on my stomach?

Lying on the stomach when pregnant might not hurt your baby, but it could be pretty uncomfortable for you. The growing uterus might make this position inconvenient as the pregnancy progresses (9).

3. Why does it hurt to turn over in bed while pregnant?

Pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PGP) could cause pain when you turn over. These pains are caused by the stiffening of the pelvic joints and are not harmful to a baby (10).

4. How long can I lay on my back in the third trimester?

There’s no specific time limit to how long a pregnant woman can lay on her back during the third trimester. It is always recommended to listen to the signs of your body. If you feel restless while lying on the back, it is recommended to switch positions (11).

5. How does lack of sleep affect pregnancy?

Dr. Langdon observes, “A prolonged lack of sleep can lead to daytime fatigue and increased discomfort in the expecting mother. Studies suggest that sleep deprivation may lead to an increased perception of pain and a longer duration of labor. Furthermore, pregnant women who get less than six hours of sleep per night are more likely to have cesarean births than their well-rested counterparts. Sleep is essential for the body’s recovery, especially during a period of rapid fetal growth and development. Since pregnancy involves multisystem physiologic changes, the expectant mother’s body demands more rest.”

Finding the right sleeping position is a challenging task during the last trimester due to the common physiological changes in the body and the growing uterus. However, a night of restful sleep cannot be compromised. Hence we hope that our sleeping tips during the third trimester of pregnancy will assist you in a well-rested night. Refer to our tips and try them to know which one suits you the most. It may also help identify the cause of your restlessness and report the issue to a doctor for good sleep.

Infographic: Tips To Improve Sleep During The Third Trimester

Expectant moms may have discomfort and trouble sleeping during the third trimester of pregnancy due to the growing baby. However, to promote safe pregnancy and delivery, moms must receive enough sleep throughout this time. So, check out the infographic below for some advice on getting a peaceful night’s sleep during this time.

how to have good sleep in your third trimester (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Have a light dinner, do light exercises, and wear comfortable clothes to reduce sleep disturbances.
  • Sleep on the left side to allow essential nutrients to flow to the baby and prevent uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms.
  • Avoid sleeping on the stomach or back, as it can cause discomfort and decrease fetal blood supply.
  • Provide adequate support for the neck, stomach, and back using maternity pillows, alternate sleep positions, and relax the mind before bed to enhance sleep quality.

Pregnant and struggling with sleep? Expert advice in this video offers strategies to achieve a restful night, addressing common sleep issues faced by expectant mothers.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Sleep and Pregnancy.
  2. Best Sleeping Positions During Pregnancy.
  3. Deborah Rubin Kim and Eileen Wang; (2014); Prevention of supine hypotensive syndrome in pregnant women treated with transcranial magnetic stimulation.
  4. 8 third trimester pains and how to deal with them.
  5. Sleeping during your third trimester.
  6. Sleep during pregnancy.
  7. Pregnancy Insomnia: Snooze Or Lose!
  8. Science Update: Sleeping position during early and mid pregnancy does not affect risk of complications NIH-funded study suggests.
  9. Sleep positions during pregnancy.
  10. Pelvic pain in pregnancy.
  11. Exactly how bad is it to sleep on your back when you’re pregnant?
  12. Get a Good Night’s Sleep During Pregnancy.
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