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Cynthia Ramnarace

7 Reasons You Can’t Sleep When Pregnant (and What to Do About Them)

If you’re reading this at 4 a.m., you’re probably in your third trimester. Here’s why you’re having so much trouble snoozing — and how you can start getting the rest you need.

You’ve got to pee — constantly

Sorry, but  peeing and pregnancy go hand in hand — your baby is practically using your bladder as a pillow right now. You can try to prevent middle-of-the-night bathroom runs by drinking lots of water early in the day and tapering off at night (you still need eight glasses total!), but that’s not a no-fail solution. Focus on finding ways to easily fall back to sleep once you’re up, since all that waking can keep you from getting the deep sleep you need. One idea: Use low-wattage hall and bathroom night-lights so things stay dim while you’re up. Bright lights are stimulating and can make you too awake.

You’re napping too late

We know you’re exhausted, but if you take a power nap during the day, make it before 3 p.m. Then it’s less likely to interfere with the sleep you get at night. (And to prevent that grumpy, just-woke-up feeling, keep the nap around 20 minutes.)

You’re hit with heartburn

If  indigestion (blame the pregnancy hormones!) is keeping you awake, try preventing it by not eating within two hours of bedtime and avoiding spicy foods. It’s completely safe to take an over-the-counter antacid like Tums or Rolaids, or an H2 blocker like Zantac. (Always double- check the dosing with your OB.) More tricks: Try elevating the head of your bed a few inches. And keep stomach acid in its place by sleeping on your left side.

You can’t get comfy

Just can’t settle down once you get into bed? Sure, it could simply be because your big belly keeps you from getting comfy, but if it’s particularly annoying, talk to your doctor. According to the National Sleep Foundation, around one in four pregnant women get restless legs syndrome. If you have it, that could be a sign you’re not getting enough iron or folate — both crucial building blocks for your baby — and if that’s the case, you’ll want to increase your intake.

You’re, um, snoring

Ugh. All that extra weight of pregnancy, combined with swollen nasal passages, can turn you into a snorer. If that’s what is keeping you up, try nasal strips (like Breathe Right), which open nasal passages, allowing for better airflow. If this is an ongoing and extreme problem, you may want to give a breathing machine called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) a shot.

Baby’s a night owl

Babies in the womb love to move when mom is still, so if it feels like your kid is dancing on your rib cage, there’s not much you can do to stop it. But don’t worry — despite what other people may tell you, just because your baby is up all night during pregnancy doesn’t mean he’ll do the same after he’s born. Maybe knowing that will help you rest easier. Try to relax and enjoy the kicks.

You’re kinda freaked out

Thinking about your to-do list, the looming delivery and the new demands of motherhood can keep your mind racing at night. But instead of tossing and turning, get up and take a warm bath or read a book (something light and non-pregnancy-related). Avoid the urge to clear out your TiVo playlist or play online sudoku — the light from the screen can make you feel even more awake, so it could be harder to go back to sleep.

More help

Daily exercise can also help promote more restful sleep, so — no matter what’s keeping you up — try to get 30 minutes of walking or swimming in a day.

Aching back? Putting a pillow between your legs while you sleep can ease the pressure.

Leg cramps? Elevate your legs as much as you can during the day while you’re sitting. Even better: Ask your partner for a calf massage. After all, the better you sleep, the better he’ll sleep. (Seriously. Tell him that.)

The Bump Experts: Tracey Marks, MD, author of Master Your Sleep: Proven Methods Simplified, and Stuart Jones, MD, OB-GYN and Chairman Of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio

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Photo: Getty Images / Jamie Grill