It’s no secret: Sleeping during pregnancy is hard. Even if your belly isn’t large enough to severely impact your sleeping ability, you may experience all kinds of pregnancy side effects that make it difficult — seemingly impossible — to get the rest you need. And you need that rest; without it, how can you provide the healthiest environment for your developing baby?

Sleep can be perhaps the most important factor in a woman’s life during her pregnancy. Without it, everything seems 10 times worse. You are more likely to get sick, are more irritable and stressed and overall feel miserable.

However, take hope: There are ways to sleep while pregnant that can help you get the rest you need during these difficult nine months. All it takes is a little research to get the best sleep possible. If you’re looking for advice on how to sleep while pregnant, you’ve come to the right place.

Below, you’ll find some helpful information about how you should sleep while pregnant to help you get the shut-eye you so desperately want. However, keep in mind that the information presented here should not be taken as medical advice; always speak to a doctor if you have specific concerns about your sleeping experience during your pregnancy.

How to Sleep When Pregnant

If you’ve never been pregnant before, or if it’s been a while since you were last pregnant, you may not know or remember what it’s like to sleep with an ever-growing belly. How should a pregnant woman sleep to get the best rest possible?

In most cases, it will be up to each individual expectant mother to find out how she best sleeps while pregnant. There are certain positions that doctors recommend (more on that below), but when it comes to the rest of your sleep routine, it’s important that you do what is right for you. As long as you are not endangering yourself or your baby, how to sleep when you’re pregnant will be entirely up to you.

Trying to determine the best way to sleep while pregnant? Start with these steps:

Step 1: Find out what makes you comfortable.

It’s common knowledge that the best position to sleep while pregnant is on your side. But, what if you’re naturally a back or stomach sleeper? The adjustment to this new position can take some time and result in less-than-ideal sleep.

If you are struggling to find comfortable ways to sleep while pregnant, experiment with different props. Consider propping our head and upper body up a few inches with a firmer pillow, or sleep alongside a body pillow to provide the back support you may need. If you have back pain or sore muscles when sleeping during your pregnancy, consider adding a mattress pad or another comfort tool.

As insignificant as it may seem, think about your room temperature, too. You may find that you need to sleep in cooler temperatures when your body heat increases during pregnancy. Experiment with your thermostat and other environment factors until you find the best way to sleep when pregnant for your own desires.

Step 2: Update your sleep schedule, if possible.

If you find yourself having difficulty sleeping, one of the least productive things to do is toss and turn all night. You may try getting up and reading a book in soft light to get your mind into a state where sleep is possible. Avoid using electronics during this time and directly before you go to bed; the light your devices omit mimic sunlight and will keep you awake longer.

Some women find that they have to adjust the time they go to sleep and the time they wake up when their sleeping habits are disrupted. Don’t be afraid to take a nap in the afternoon if you need it; it will help you get the rest you need if you are losing a few hours of sleep each night during your pregnancy. If you keep your naps around 30 minutes, you’ll get the rest you need without the grogginess associated with a deep sleep.

Step 3: Incorporate relaxing techniques.

Most people have trouble falling asleep at one point or another in their lives — but it can be incredibly frustrating to experience the symptoms of insomnia while you are pregnant.

Beyond the basics of understanding the proper ways to sleep when pregnant, it’s important that you understand the best steps to take before you even get into bed for the night. Avoid late-night snacks, electronics and any other artificial lights that can disturb your sleep. Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleep and sex; your body should ideally recognize that getting into bed means it’s time for sleep, not doing work or other chores.

You may find that including soothing scents like lavender and sounds like white noise can help you calm your mind down from the stresses of pregnancy and your upcoming delivery to help you fall asleep in a timely manner.

What is the Best Position to Sleep in While Pregnant?

There are a few common questions that women have as they get further along in their pregnancy and their belly grows:

  • How are you supposed to sleep when pregnant?
  • When pregnant, what is the best way to sleep?
  • What side are you supposed to sleep on while pregnant?

When it comes to the best way to sleep when pregnant, there is one answer: SOS, or “sleep on side.” Sleeping on your side (specifically, your left side) plays a huge role in increasing the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby. You’ll want to keep your legs and knees bent for the most comfort while sleeping, and you might even try putting a pillow between your legs.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and you’ve moved from this sleeping position, don’t panic. Your baby will be okay. Just readjust yourself back into the SOS position if it feels comfortable and focus on getting the rest you need. Rotating positions throughout the night is fine.

As always, if you have any questions about your sleeping routine when pregnant or how to sleep better when pregnant, please talk with your obstetrician for personalized medical advice.