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Sleep Problems During Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Common Sleep Problems

Learn about the many sleep problems in pregnancy.

Even though your morning sickness and fatigue should be gone in the second trimester, this doesn’t mean that you’re in the clear for all pregnancy aches and pains.

You may be more rested and have more energy in the second trimester, but you’re not immune to sleep problems.

Common sleep problems that plague expectant women in the second trimester include restless legs syndrome, leg cramps, and snoring.

Restless Legs Syndrome

In the second trimester, you may find yourself unable to sleep due to a crawling, tingling, or burning sensation in your legs. This is restless legs syndrome (RLS), and it’s quite common in pregnancy. Most women feel the symptoms of RLS in their lower legs, but some feel it in their feet, arms, and hands. Moving your legs offers immediate relief, but the tingling sensations return after you stop moving.

RLS is a frustrating and uncomfortable sleep disturbance, and unfortunately most of the drugs used to treat RLS are not recommended during pregnancy. If you experience restless legs syndrome, talk to your doctor about your options.

Leg Cramps



From the second trimester onward, leg cramps may start to plague you and keep you up at night. No one knows why pregnant women experience leg cramps, but it may be due to your leg muscles being tired from carrying around all that extra weight. In addition, your growing uterus may place pressure on the blood vessels that return blood from your legs to your heart, and this can cause leg cramps.

Leg cramps may be a minor nuisance at 14 weeks, and they may get worse the further along you are. You can minimize your discomfort by avoiding standing or sitting with your legs crossed for an extended period of time; wearing comfortable shoes during the day; keeping hydrated; and getting enough potassium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet.

Though leg cramps are a normal pregnancy symptom, if your muscle pain is constant and you notice that you have swelling or tenderness in your leg, you will want to call your doctor right away. This may be a sign of a blood clot.

Snoring

Unfortunately, snoring is quite common during pregnancy. It may be a problem in the second trimester, but it’s more common in the third trimester. During pregnancy, your nasal passages may swell, due to the higher levels of estrogen in your body, and this may cause you to snore. If you’re congested, whether from a cold or allergies, you may snore when you sleep.

If your snoring bothers you, you may want to keep your head elevated and sleep on your side, rather than on your back. This may help reduce your snoring.

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