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I’m six months pregnant and can’t sleep through the night.
Q: I have always been able to sleep without difficulty. Now that I am six months pregnant, I am unable to sleep through the night.
A: Dear Rachel,

To help you fall asleep, try establishing a bedtime routine. Try taking a warm bath before retiring. Sometimes a small snack such as warm milk and toast can help, but avoid heavy meals within two hours of going to bed. Your bedroom should be calm and inviting. Reduce excess noise and lighting. Try relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, and visualize each part of your body relaxing and releasing any tension. Ask your partner to give you a late-night back or foot massage.

I recommend exercising daily, preferably early in the day rather than right before bedtime. Avoid caffeine, which is found in coffee, some teas, sodas and chocolate. And, if frequent urination is part of the problem, don’t drink immediately before bedtime.

If you awaken in the middle of the night, try to identify the cause. Are you feeling anxious or worried about concerns left over from the day? Would you benefit from writing in a journal or talking with someone about your worries? Are you in physical discomfort, and would a better position in bed help you to sleep? Try being on your side with pillows strategically placed between your legs, behind your back and under your belly. Or are you just feeling alert and too energetic to sleep? Your change in sleep habits may be a result of hormonal changes in pregnancy. Plan to take a short nap during the day to compensate. Once you are awake, try a calm activity like reading or listening to music or a relaxation tape. I don’t recommend sleeping pills, which could contain medication that is not safe for your baby.

If you are otherwise feeling well, don’t become stressed about your problems sleeping. Some people believe that frequent sleep “interruptions” are good preparation for the demands of motherhood.
Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist