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Changing hormone levels, a growing belly, back pain, and increasingly restless legs — these are just some of the reasons an expectant mom has a tough time falling asleep.
During all trimesters of pregnancy, sleep is essential. Without enough sleep, you’ll feel the other symptoms of pregnancy even more.
Before you were pregnant, taking a nighttime over-the-counter sleep aid like Unisom seemed like an easy solution. But now that you’re eating (and sleeping) for two, it’s not clear if you can take the medication safely.
There are a few things to consider.
Unisom SleepTabs are a medication people take to fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s also common to take it during pregnancy to help with nausea and vomiting. The main ingredient in Unisom is doxylamine succinate, which makes a person feel drowsy.
The medication also contains the following inactive ingredients:
- dibasic calcium phosphate
- FD&C blue No. 1 aluminum lake
- magnesium stearate
- microcrystalline cellulose
- sodium starch glycolate
Unisom’s package describes it as a non-habit-forming alternative to prescription sleep aids.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally recognizes Unisom as safe and effective. But the medicine is intended to treat temporary sleeplessness. It isn’t intended to be a long-term solution to help a person sleep.
The active ingredient in Unisom is an antihistamine. Another antihistamine that may sound familiar is diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in medications like Benadryl.
When you take Unisom, the medication blocks the production of histamine and acetylcholine in the body. When these compounds are reduced, a person will start to feel sleepier.
If you are only having trouble sleeping while pregnant, your doctor might recommend Benadryl. Unisom is likely to be recommended for consistent nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
When you’re expecting, you and your baby share more than your belly. Everything you eat, take, and sometimes even put on your skin can be circulated through your baby, too. That’s why things like sushi, deli meats, aspirin, and skin care products with retinoids are off-limits.
From an FDA perspective, Unisom has been generally considered safe for pregnant women.
But, talk to your doctor before taking any medications. Together, you can discuss the medication’s potential effects on your baby and ensure that it won’t interact with other medications you are taking.
Think about the risks and benefits before taking Unisom. If your sleep is greatly affected to the point where you are having difficulty functioning during the day, talk to your doctor.
If for some reason you do experience side effects associated with Unisom, call the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You can also report side effects on the FDA’s
If your doctor recommends against Unisom or other sleep aids during pregnancy, there are still steps you can take to sleep better.
Try the following for a better night’s rest.
- Exercise 30 minutes per day, with your physician’s OK.
- Sleep on your left side, which improves blood flow to your baby and kidneys. Placing a pillow between your knees can also reduce the pressure on your lower back.
- Slightly reduce the amount of fluids you drink in the hours leading up to bedtime to reduce nighttime bathroom trips.
- Take a prenatal vitamin that contains iron and folate. This reduces the chance of restless legs syndrome during pregnancy.
While daytime naps can help you feel less sleepy, long naps may make falling or staying asleep at night more difficult.
While pregnancy can often result in lost Zzz’s, the issues that affect sleep during pregnancy typically get better after giving birth.
Although the FDA does not categorize Unisom as a dangerous drug for pregnancy, it’s still important to check with your doctor before taking it. You’ll also want to ask your doctor about the medication’s safety if you’re breastfeeding after you have your little one.