Though your belly's not yet an obstacle and your feet are still visible, the first trimester of pregnancy comes with a considerable roadblock: extreme fatigue. Fighting to keep your eyes awake during the day and sleeping fitfully at night are common during early pregnancy.
Science Behind Sleepiness
It's not just the excitement and worries of pregnancy that make you tired. Increased production of hormones such as progesterone during the first trimester contribute to your fatigue, says the University of Rochester Medical Center. Your body is working overtime too, pumping out blood to support the placenta and fetus. Low iron or blood sugar levels may also cause sleepiness. And because you may wake often during the night to urinate or because of nausea, aches or discomfort, your nighttime sleep cycle may be frequently disrupted.
Counting Your Zzzzzs
What works for a pregnant friend won't necessarily work for you. Each woman's sleep needs are different, but you'll probably find that you need a few extra hours of nightly sleep to operate at the same level you did before you became pregnant. The URMC says that some women who would typically sleep six hours at night need nearly twice that amount of rest early in their pregnancies. Move your bedtime up in 30-minute increments until you've found the bedtime that allows you enough sleep to feel refreshed in the morning.
Tender breasts make sleeping on your stomach painful, and lying on your back might increase back aches. These sleeping positions aren't safe or comfortable later in your pregnancy, so the first trimester is the time to retrain yourself. The American Pregnancy Association says that lying on your side, preferably your left side, is the best sleep position during pregnancy because it encourages the flow of blood and nutrients to your baby. To get in the habit of comfortably sleeping this way, KidsHealth suggests experimenting with using small pillows or rolled-up blankets between your knees or at your lower back for support. Hugging a large body pillow or tucking large pillows against your back might also help.
Making Sleep Count
Make sleep a priority in your first trimester. Sleeping whenever you can keeps you out of "sleep debt," says the National Sleep Foundation. The NSF also suggests staying hydrated during the day but limiting drinks before bed and keeping a nightlight in the bathroom—this way you won't have to turn on bright overhead lights. Never take sleep medications without talking to your doctor, and consult her if you have painful heartburn, anxiety or any other condition that affects your sleep.