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Tips on Sleeping Better in the Third Trimester

By the third trimester, it might feel like your bed has shrunk. There's simply not room enough for you, so getting comfortable seems impossible. Aches and pains, insomnia and other sleep-stealers are common in the last months of pregnancy. A few simple tricks can combat these culprits and turn your bed back into a welcoming place.

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Stretch Out

Painful leg cramps are a common nighttime occurrence late in pregnancy, says Mayo Clinic. Keep these aches from interrupting your rest by stretching before climbing between the sheets. Rest your hands against a wall and place one foot behind the other. Bend the front leg forward, keeping the back leg straight with the heel flat to the ground. You should feel the stretch in the calf of the back leg. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then switch legs.

Change Positions

Your doctor has likely recommended that you sleep on your left side now. This position provides optimal blood flow to your baby, uterus and kidneys, says the National Sleep Foundation. But if you're used to sleeping in a different position, or if your belly just makes it hard to get comfortable, some strategically-placed pillows can help. Try placing a wedge-shaped pillow under your belly to support it. Tucking a pillow between your legs, supporting your back with several firm pillows or curling around a body pillow can also help you feel cocooned rather than restless.

Save Sleep for Night

Hard as it may be to keep your eyes open at dinner, cutting down on naps may improve your nighttime sleep. Writing for "Reader's Digest," University of Pennsylvania sleep researcher Grace Pien, M.D. compares napping to snacking before a meal. Even a small snack will diminish your appetite, just as a nap will diminish your need for sleep. If you wake up feeling exhausted, try taking a short nap mid-day, then take walks to keep yourself feeling alert until bedtime. Taking a warm bath or listening to soothing music might help you feel drowsy before crawling into bed.

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Curtail Night Waking

Until nighttime feedings are part of your reality, the only place you should be 3 a.m. is dreamland. Cut down on nighttime bathroom breaks by front-loading your eating and drinking schedule. Try eating a big breakfast and lunch and a smaller dinner. Stock crackers by your bed in case you do get hungry during the night, which makes a trip to the fridge unnecessary. Aim to drink plenty of water throughout the day, says Pien, and limit drinks by late afternoon. Light the path to the bathroom with night lights so you won't be too stimulated by bright light if you need to relieve yourself in the middle of the night.

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