Home » Sleeping Position in Pregnancy: Impact of Alcohol, Caffeine & Exercise During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the body of a woman experiences a variety of ups and downs. Besides weight gain and hormonal changes, there are many other reasons for this sleep deprivation. Read More here

During pregnancy, the body of a woman experiences a variety of ups and downs. These physical changes accompanied by hormonal changes have the tendency to disrupt any pregnant woman’s usual sound sleep.

Besides weight gain and hormonal changes, there are many other reasons for this sleep deprivation, including increased size of the abdomen Heartburn, Back-pain, Insomnia and shortness of breath etc & more.

What Is The Best Sleeping Position for Pregnant Women?

Best and most comfortable sleep position is ‘sleeping on her left side’. The reason being, sleeping on the left side is beneficial to both fetus and the mother – it allows for maximum blood flow to the fetus and improves kidney function in the mother. Sleeping with pillows between the knees and under the abdomen can be a comfortable sleeping position for a pregnant woman. However, if you still find it difficult to sleep, talk to your health care provider and get your concerns or questions resolved and get back your usual peaceful sleep.

Doctors Recommendation towards Sleeping Posture

With advanced stages in pregnancy, the size of the uterus increases leading to discomfort in bed. At an early stage in pregnancy, women can think about sleeping on their stomachs. Inevitably, it can get to be uncomfortable for a few women, however it is alright to do so if one is comfortable. Most of the time, doctors do not recommend pregnant women to lie on their backs. The simple reason is lying on the back brings pressure on the inferior vena cava (veins that carry blood from the lower body to the heart). 

Moreover, the increased weight will bring pressure on the intestine and especially on the back, causing discomfort.

Frequently Asked Questions on Pregnancy

How Does Exercise Impact Your Sleep?

The way exercise, alcohol and caffeine impacts on sleep are all different. Exercising regularly and keeping one fit boosts sleep. Alcohol also induces sleep but it leads to more fragmented sleep. Caffeine has an adverse effect on sleep.

A recent systematic review and meta analysis suggested that adolescents with higher subjective and objective physical activity are more likely to experience good sleep subjectively and objectively. 

Adult patients with obstructive sleep apnea, physical exercise as the sole intervention was associated with improved sleep outcomes. 

How Does Alcohol Impact Sleep?

Alcohol is a sedative, which can help induce sleep, however, it’ll cause more fragmented sleep and awakenings during the night. Self-reported sleep problems are highly prevalent among alcohol users with rates of clinical insomnia ranging between 35-70, depending on the setting and stage of use. 

A published study says – utilizing polysomnography shows that sleep latency is prolonged during periods of drinking, acute withdrawal (e.g., 1- 2 weeks of abstinence), and during post-acute withdrawal (e.g., up to eight weeks). Evidence also points to disturbances in sleep, with alcohol significantly reducing slow wave sleep time (believed to be most restorative sleep) and REM sleep time with chronic use. 

How Does Caffeine Impact Sleep? 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulator. It prolongs sleep latency, reduces total sleep time and sleep efficiency, and worsens perceived sleep quality. Slow-wave sleep is typically reduced, whereas wakefulness, transitional stage of sleep and arousals are increased.

A recent systematic review reported on dose – and timing-response relationships between caffeine intake and sleep. It is reported that older adults’ sleep may be more sensitive to caffeine than younger adults.

So, considering all above issues & facts, pregnant women should stay away from alcohol, caffeine and keep doing light exercise after consultation with your gynecologist. The focus should be on proper sleep & adopt comfortable sleep position.


ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, sleepeducation.org, sleepfoundation.org, hopkinsmedicine.org