Written by Dr. Anitha Paderla, MBBS | 
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sunil Shroff, MBBS, MS, FRCS (UK), D. Urol (Lond) on Jan 03, 2017

Third Trimester Related - Sleep Disturbances

The third trimester is the most sleep challenged stage of pregnancy. With the frequency of urination, inability to get comfortable and exhaustion from trying to keep up with the demands of their normal schedules, some women find themselves struggling to stay awake.

1. Back Pain, Muscle Aches and General Discomfort: The aches and pains can be associated with the softening of the ligaments between the pelvic bones and the joints loosening in preparation for the birth. Carrying the weight of the baby also affects posture, leaving many women uncomfortable walking, sitting, and sleeping.

2. Night Waking: Sleep Disturbances during Pregnancy show that by the end of pregnancy 97.3% of the women were waking up at night - an average of 3.11 times each night. A study showed that 66% of the women who woke up at night; got up five or more nights per week. Waking up multiple times may interrupt the necessary sleep cycles.

3. Snoring: Many pregnant women start snoring because of nasal congestion, and the increase in abdominal girth with the uterus pressing on the diaphragm. About 30% of pregnant women snore because of increased congestion in their nasal passages, which can block airways. Snoring can also lead to high blood pressure, which can put both the mother and fetus at risk. If the blockage is severe, sleep apnea may result, characterized by loud snoring and periods of apnea or absent breathing during sleep.

"A recent study of 502 women reported that snoring pregnant women had a twofold greater incidence of hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction than did non-snorers."

4. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): 15 percent of pregnant women develop restless legs syndrome during the third trimester. The symptoms include crawling or uncomfortable feelings in the foot, calf or upper leg that momentarily disrupts sleep. Moving your legs can stop these symptoms temporarily, but the irritation returns when the limb is resting.

5.Leg Cramps: Leg cramps in the lower leg muscles are fairly common in the second and third trimester. These painful spasms tend to occur at night and may disrupt sleep. Leg cramps are due an excess of phosphorous and a shortage of calcium circulating in the blood system.


  1. Sleep Disorders in Women - (http://www.emedicinehealth.com/sleep_disorders_in_women/article_em.htm)
  2. Sleep Dysfunction in Women - (http://www.emedicine.com/neuro/topic656.htm)

Most Popular on Medindia