How to Get Better (and More) Sleep During the Third Trimester

How to Get Better (and More) Sleep During the Third Trimester

Posted by Jackie Kepler on Feb 4th 2019

Though you may be excited to meet your baby, the third trimester is full of sleep challenges that can make it feel like the longest weeks of your pregnancy. But, there are ways to get the rest you need. With some planning and the right equipment (like a body pillow), you’ll get more sleep so you’re ready and rested when the newest member of your family arrives.

Third Trimester Sleep Challenges

If you haven’t hit the third trimester, you might benefit from a glimpse into what could come your way. Keep in mind that each woman and pregnancy is different. You may not experience any of these issues while others might, unfortunately, deal with all of them.

  • Legs cramps: Leg cramps can show up at any time during your pregnancy, but they’re most likely in the third trimester. While doctors aren’t entirely sure why leg cramps plague pregnant women, there’s speculation that it could be due to weight gain, which reaches its peak at the end of pregnancy.
  • Restless leg syndrome (RLS): Do you feel like your legs are tingling and won’t hold still? You’ve entered the world of RLS. Luckily, it usually disappears after delivery.
  • Back pain: Your growing body continues to demand more of your back and it can’t help but ache because of it.
  • Bladder pressure: The uterus puts increased pressure on the bladder, which often leads to frequent nighttime bathroom trips.
  • Nasal congestion and snoring: Pregnancy congestion reaches a high during the final trimester and brings sleep-disrupting snoring with it.
  • Heartburn: With a nearly full-term baby pressing against the stomach, it’s no wonder heartburn becomes more of an issue in the third trimester.

Stick to Basic Sleep Hygiene

The first step to better sleep is to adhere to basic healthy sleep hygiene. Establish a regular bedtime and bedtime routine. Use your routine to relax your mind and body before bed. For example, a warm bath can help relax back and leg muscles while listening to quiet music can bring your stress levels down.

Eat for sleep, which means avoiding high-fat, oily, and spicy foods. Rather than a few large meals, you’ll have a better chance of avoiding heartburn by eating frequent, small meals.

Maintain a regular exercise routine. Exercise keeps your body strong, improves moods, and helps you feel more tired at night. You may have to slow down because of your growing body, but walking, swimming, and other low impact exercises are possible up to your delivery day.

Extra Sleep Helps for the Third Trimester

The third trimester may necessitate more sleep help than a bedtime routine and light meals can offer. You can also try:

  • Left-side sleeping: Sleeping on your left side improves the flow of blood to you and your baby’s body. A supportive mattress should allow you to side sleep without cutting off circulation to the shoulder and hip.
  • Sleeping on an incline: If small meals do little for your heartburn, try sleeping at an incline. A few pillows behind your back can keep stomach acids from entering your esophagus.
  • Using a body pillow: A body pillow can be used between the knees, behind the back, and/or under the stomach for extra support. They take some of the pressure off of the spine so you can rest comfortably.
  • Reduce liquids: Hydration is critical to your health during pregnancy. However, try to get your liquids in the morning and afternoon so you can cut back in the evening. Less liquid will help reduce your nighttime bathroom visits.


Sleep may be elusive but with good sleep hygiene and a few third trimester helps, you’ll have a better chance of getting the rest you need. In these last few weeks, sleep can be another way to pamper yourself before you start your journey into the wonderful world of motherhood.

Jackie Kepler is a sleep professional. She enjoys sleeping with cats, but sleeps on a king size bed because she needs her space, too