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How much rest do you need in third trimester?

The third trimester of pregnancy can be tiring and uncomfortable. As your due date approaches, you may wonder just how much rest you need to stay healthy and prepare for labor and delivery.

Why is rest important in the third trimester?

Rest is crucial in the third trimester for several reasons:

  • Your body is working hard to support your growing baby. Your blood volume has increased up to 50 percent more than early pregnancy levels to nourish the baby. Your heart is pumping more blood and nutrients through this expanded circulatory system. This extra workload can leave you feeling run down.
  • The size and weight of your growing belly shifts your center of gravity and puts strain on your back and legs. This can make typical daily activities more challenging and tiring.
  • Hormone shifts in late pregnancy can make it harder to get comfortable and sleep well at night. Fatigue from sleep disturbances can accumulate and leave you feeling exhausted.
  • Your baby is most active in the third trimester as they practice breathing, sucking, grasping, and kicking in preparation for their arrival. This can interfere with rest when their activity keeps you up at night.

With all these changes happening to your body, adequate rest helps ensure you have the energy you need to care for yourself and prepare for labor, delivery, and life with a newborn.

How many extra hours of sleep do you need?

There is no single recommended number of hours pregnant women need to sleep in the third trimester. Each woman’s sleep needs are different and depend on many factors, including:

  • Your usual sleep schedule pre-pregnancy
  • How tired you feel during the daytime
  • Your general health and pregnancy complications
  • How physically active you are
  • Stress levels
  • Quality of sleep

That said, most women need some extra sleep in the third trimester – often 1-2 more hours than they needed before pregnancy. For example, if you used to function well on 7 hours a night pre-pregnancy, aim for 8-9 hours of sleep now that you are in the third trimester.

Keep in mind that this extra sleep may come from napping during the day if you are having trouble sleeping at night. The key is listening to your body and making rest a priority.

Tips for getting more restful sleep

Try these tips to enjoy more high-quality, restorative sleep in your third trimester:

  • Take brief naps and put your feet up during the day when possible.
  • Go to bed earlier in the evenings.
  • Use pillows to support your belly, back, and legs for comfort.
  • Choose a pregnancy body pillow for cushioning.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room.
  • Avoid screens before bedtime.
  • Develop a calming pre-bed routine, like taking a bath, reading, or listening to music.
  • Keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day.
  • Limit caffeine, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Use the bathroom right before bed so you won’t be disturbed by the need to urinate frequently.
  • Do gentle stretches or prenatal yoga to relax your body.
  • Consider a white noise machine or app if noise disturbs your sleep.
  • Communicate with your partner if their snoring or restless movements wake you up at night.

If you continue to have difficulty sleeping well at night, talk to your healthcare provider about any lifestyle changes or pregnancy-safe sleep aids that may help.

Making naps work for you

Short, well-timed naps can provide a valuable energy boost when nighttime sleep is lacking. If you need to nap, keep these tips in mind:

  • Take naps earlier in the day, ideally before 3 p.m. Late afternoon naps may interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Limit naps to 30 minutes. Longer naps can lead to grogginess.
  • Find a restful nap spot. Lie down in a dim, quiet, comfortable place.
  • Use an alarm to avoid oversleeping your nap.
  • Relax but don’t fall into deep sleep. Light rest is the goal.
  • Get up slowly after your nap to avoid dizziness.
  • Opt for a brisk walk outside after your nap to re-energize.

If you work outside the home, take mini breaks to rest your eyes, do light stretches, or meditate. This can also help restore your energy when you are unable to nap.

How much should you rest versus stay active?

Resting more in the third trimester should not mean you turn totally inactive. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

The key is finding the right balance of rest and activity that meets your needs. For example, your weekly routine could look like this:

  • Get 8-9 hours of sleep per night
  • Take a 30 minute nap 4 days per week
  • Have 2 full days of rest per week with light activity only
  • Get 30 minutes of moderate exercise like walking on 3-4 days
  • Limit physically demanding tasks like heavy lifting

Staying moderately active has many benefits like improving sleep, relieving aches and pains, boosting your mood, controlling weight gain, and building stamina for labor. Move your body when you can, but also make rest, relaxation, and recharging a priority.

When should you contact your provider about fatigue?

Occasional fatigue is perfectly normal in the third trimester. However, contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience any of the following:

  • Excessive or overwhelming fatigue
  • Difficulty staying awake during typical waking hours
  • Falling asleep while doing daily tasks or activities
  • Symptoms like muscle weakness, heart palpitations, shortness of breath
  • Headaches or dizziness when standing up
  • Mental confusion
  • Vision changes
  • Leg swelling or pains

These can be signs of pregnancy complications like anemia, blood pressure issues, or preeclampsia, which require prompt medical attention.

Set priorities and get support

Making rest a priority is often easier said than done when you have a job, other children, or a busy lifestyle. Whenever possible, seek help from your partner, family, and friends during this important time. If you work, talk to your employer about the possibility of a more flexible schedule or telecommuting in the coming weeks.

Save your energy for top priorities like:

  • Attending medical appointments
  • Self-care routines like eating well, light exercise, and getting enough sleep
  • Time with loved ones
  • Making preparations for the baby
  • Enjoyable hobbies like reading or crafting

Let other household tasks like cleaning wait or see if your support team can pitch in. Say no to social commitments that do not feel restorative.

Prenatal health and wellness tips

Along with adequate rest, be sure to practice other forms of prenatal wellness:

  • Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet with plenty of protein, fruits/vegetables, whole grains, and hydration from water and milk. Take a prenatal vitamin.
  • Stress management: Make time for activities that calm your mind like prenatal yoga, listening to music, getting outdoors in nature.
  • Prenatal medical care: Attend all recommended appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your health and your baby’s development.
  • Comfort measures: Use pillows, massage, warm baths, ice packs, or pain relievers (if approved) for body aches and pains.
  • Mental health: Seek support from loved ones or a professional if you have signs of depression, anxiety, or mood disorders.
  • Childbirth education: Take birthing classes and read up on what to expect during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery.

Sample third trimester sleep schedule

Here is a sample sleep schedule showing what a typical 24-hour period could look like in the third trimester to help maximize rest and recharging:

Time Activity
10 p.m. Get ready for bed (bathroom, change clothes, light reading)
10:30 p.m. Lights out for deep, restorative sleep
7 a.m. Wake up, light breakfast
7:30-8:30 a.m. Get ready for day, light activity only
10 a.m. 30-minute nap
12 p.m. Healthy lunch
1-4 p.m. Light work activity if needed or rest/relaxation (reading, tv)
4:30-6 p.m. Prepare and eat healthy dinner
7-9 p.m. Relaxing evening (bath, pre-bed routine)
10 p.m. Lights out for sleep again

Adjust this schedule as needed to fit your own needs and sleep patterns. The priority should be getting nightly deep sleep and taking brief restorative daytime naps.


Late pregnancy brings many changes to your body that can leave you feeling drained. Listening to your body’s need for extra rest during the third trimester is important. Most women need 1-2 additional hours of sleep than they did pre-pregnancy. Napping during the day can help supplement nighttime rest. Finding the right balance of naps, nighttime sleep, and moderate activity will ensure you have the energy reserves needed for the exciting but strenuous weeks and months ahead. Don’t hesitate to ask loved ones for help or discuss persistent fatigue with your healthcare provider.