Are you pregnant and exhausted? Growing a human is hard work, so it’s not surprising if you feel a little extra tired during your pregnancy! However, if you feel the need to sleep all the time, you may start to worry.

You know your doctor mentioned getting enough rest, but how much is that? Are you getting too much? Chances are you have some questions regarding the right amount of sleep during pregnancy.

Should you be concerned about excessive sleeping during pregnancy? (Is there even such a thing as too much sleep during pregnancy?) What should you do if you’re not feeling well rested? Don’t worry, keep reading and we’ll help you navigate your sleep-related pregnancy questions!

What constitutes excessive is somewhat objective, and it also depends on your typical sleep needs and habits.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the amount of sleep necessary for good health varies by age. Between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each day is recommended at the age most women find themselves pregnant. (Genetics and quality of sleep can affect these numbers, but this is a good general guideline for how much shut-eye is needed.)

If you find yourself routinely sleeping upwards of 9 to 10 hours straight and you’re getting good quality sleep, that might be a sign that you’re getting excessive sleep. However, if you’re up several times during the night or have disturbed sleep patterns, you may need to spend more time in bed resting than normal.

Why does sleep matter so much?

Science has shown that sleep is necessary for all kinds of vital bodily functions, as well as restoring energy and allowing the brain to process new information it has taken in while awake.

Without sufficient sleep, it’s impossible to think clearly, react quickly, focus, and control emotions. A chronic lack of sleep can even lead to serious health problems.

What makes you feel so sleepy during pregnancy?

It’s common to feel more fatigued than usual during the first and third trimesters of your pregnancy.

In the first trimester, your blood volume and progesterone levels increase. This can leave you feeling pretty sleepy. By the third trimester, carrying around the extra baby weight and emotional anxiety of impending labor can have you longing to spend some extra time in bed.

In addition to these hormonal and physiological changes, you may not be getting great quality sleep. Pregnancy-related discomforts, as well as increased stress and anxiety levels, can also result in restless nights. This can leave you feeling more tired during the day or craving naps.

One study has argued that there may be risks to excessive sleep in your third trimester. In the study, women who slept for more than 9 continuous hours without disturbance and routinely had non-restless sleep in the last month of their pregnancy had a greater instance of stillbirth.

Before you start setting alarms to wake you every few hours, it’s important to note that this study has been contested by scientists who feel that the longer, non-restless nights were the result of decreased fetal movement and not the cause of the stillbirths.

While you may not want to oversleep, it can be worth it to spend at least 8 hours in bed, as there are some potential benefits to getting sufficient sleep during the late stages of your pregnancy.

One older study found that women who slept less than 6 hours at night toward the end of their pregnancy had longer labors and were 4.5 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries. Furthermore, they found that women with severely disrupted sleep had longer labors and were 5.2 times more likely to have cesarean deliveries.

Also, animal research suggests that insufficient sleep during pregnancy may have long-term effects on offspring. So, if you’re waking up several times in the middle of the night, you might want to budget some extra evening or morning time in bed!

In addition to getting enough sleep, it’s important to think about the quality of sleep you’re getting. Research has indicated that the sleep-disordered breathing that can develop during pregnancy may be related to an increased risk of preeclampsia.

Finally, snoring, which is more common in pregnant women than non-pregnant women, has been linked to preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

There are many reasons why your sleep may look different during pregnancy. Some potential causes include:

  • Hormonal changes: During the first trimester, your blood pressure and blood sugar levels decrease, potentially leading to feelings of fatigue. Increasing progesterone levels during this period can also lead you to want more sleep.
  • Restless leg syndrome: Many pregnant women experience some unpleasant nights due to a need to move their legs. It might be triggered by rising estrogen levels or a lack of folic acid and iron.
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): A muscular ring at the bottom of your esophagus opens to let food into your stomach. In women with GERD, this ring will stay loose and allow food and liquid back up into the throat. Pregnancy can lead to GERD, as the extra pressure on the stomach area can hinder the ring’s proper closure.
  • Insomnia: Especially in the first and third trimesters, you may find yourself spending lots of time in bed, but not getting good sleep. One reason for insomnia is pregnancy-related aches and pains. Heightened levels of stress and anxiety around giving birth and caring for a child can also lead you to be up long past your normal bedtime.
  • Sleep apnea: Talk to your doctor right away if your breathing is restricted while sleeping. One review found that some women develop sleep apnea during pregnancy, potentially due to hormonal and physiological changes. While it may resolve after pregnancy, it can be linked to a variety of other health concerns, so it’s important to get this checked out!
  • Frequent urination: By the third trimester, you may find yourself waking up several times a night to use the bathroom. Well, you can thank your growing baby for putting extra pressure on your bladder. You can try to limit your fluid intake right before bedtime to help with this, but remember that you don’t want to become dehydrated!

If you’re struggling to get good quality sleep during your pregnancy, don’t give up hope! There are plenty of things you can try to improve your sleep.

  • Consider using a pregnancy pillow. If you’re normally a back sleeper or just simply unable to get into a position that feels right, a pregnancy pillow can help you feel supported and comfortable while you sleep.
  • Address underlying problems. Are you feeling stressed or anxious about giving birth? Is there something else on your mind keeping you awake? Addressing any issues that are keeping your mind racing can help you get a better night’s sleep!
  • Exercise daily. One of the potential benefits of exercise is improved sleep. Plus, regular exercise can give you more energy to complete your daytime activities and help your body stay strong for the work ahead birthing your baby!
  • Get a massage. Touch can be very soothing and beneficial to sleep! It can also relieve some of the aches and pains associated with pregnancy and improve your mood.
  • Establish good sleep habits. Sleep routines (going to sleep at established times after predictable patterns of behavior) can help set the mood for a night of good quality sleep.
  • Create the ideal sleeping space. You may want to consider keeping electronics outside of the bedroom, investing in a new mattress, making sure that you have an uncluttered room, or even adjusting the thermostat to the perfect temperature before you fall asleep.

If you find that you’re not getting good quality sleep at night or feel overtired during the day, it’s OK to grab a nap when you can. Just try to make sure that it’s not too long and doesn’t throw off your nighttime sleep routine!

If you’re feeling fatigued during your pregnancy, you’re not alone! Feeling exhausted is a common pregnancy symptom, particularly at the beginning and end of your pregnancy.

However, if you always feel like you’re getting poor sleep or are finding yourself needing to sleep at all hours of the day, it may be time to speak with your doctor. They can make sure that no underlying medical conditions are causing this!