Is It Safe to take Sleeping Pills or aids to get to Sleep in Pregnancy?

Sleeping peacefully is another thing you have to give up when you are a mom-to-be. During the first trimester, you can hardly close your eyes. It gets a little better in the second trimester but sleeplessness comes back in the third trimester. Some women who previously have insomnia will suffer more from this situation.

Despite all the restlessness, you cannot opt for the sleeping pills while you are pregnant as they are strictly not safe for future mothers. The harmful impacts of these pills do not only affect your body but your baby will also be in a great danger. Thus, you have to look for the alternatives to help you get to sleep.

Factors Affecting Sleep During Pregnancy:

Pregnancy has to offer a lot of work which will make you beaten up both physically and mentally. You will find that your sleep is more disturbed in the final stages of your pregnancy than initial months. There are reported a lot of reasons that make your nights restless. Some of these are listed here:

  • Leg pain and muscle cramps
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Frequent urination
  • Heartburn and sinus congestion
  • Movements of fetus
  • Lower back pain
  • Disturbing thoughts about pregnancy
  • Nausea and vomiting in the first trimester
  • Difficulties in changing positions
  • Frequent dreams and nightmares
  • Daytime dizziness

Factors Affecting Sleep During Pregnancy

Can You Take Sleeping  Aid While Pregnant?

Sleeping pills are definitely not a safe exit from the problem you are facing because of the dangerous side effects they have. Below is all the information you should know about these pills before taking them.

Classification of Pills:

There are so many types of pills that FDA has categorized them in five classes on the basis of their safety level for pregnant women. These are Class A, B, C, D, and X. These are arranged from the safest to most dangerous drugs. You should know that:

Classification of Pills

  • Class A is the safest drugs to take as they have no harmful impact on the body. Unfortunately, there are no sleeping pills classified as Class A.
  • Class B is prescribed only to treat severe insomnia and sleeping disorders. They can only be used after a doctor’s prescription. Some pills like Ambien and Benadryl are categorized as Class B.
  • Class C includes drugs like Sonata, Lunesta, and Rozerem. They have harmful side effects and so, are categorized unsafe for pregnancy as they harm both child and mother.
  • Drugs of Class D and X are naturally out of question to use. They should never be taken as they have long-term effects on the unborn child and he may have birth defects because of them.

Types of Sleeping Pills:

Generally, there are two major types of sleeping pills:

  1. Prescription drugs
  2. Over The Counter (OTC) drugs

1-Prescription Drugs:

There is not much data available about their effects on humans and especially on pregnant women. Prescription drugs are of several types:

  • Benzodiazepines cause birth defects like cleft palate in animals. Early human studies suggest some birth defects but later studies failed to provide any connection between these defects and Benzodiazepines.
  • Lunesta drugs are categorized C and they are considered “non-narcotic” sleep aids. Tested on rats, they are reported to cause infertility in both male and female, and the offsprings born were small and did not survive. However, these pills are not tested on humans.
  • Ambien also belongs to the class C and they are commonly known as ‘Zolpidem’. They did not interfere with pregnancy when tested on rats but still, impacts on humans are unknown. High dosage can cause skull bones’ formation defects, low weight and less survival in rats.
  • Rozerem is also non-narcotic sleeping pills and classified in C category. These caused birth defects like malformation of skeleton and diaphragm in rats but didn’t affect rabbits. Again there is no study about its effects on human beings.

2- Over The Counter (OTC) Drugs:

OTC sleeping pills are sold under many names like Unisom, Sominex, Sleep-Eze or Benadryl. They contain antihistamines which are usually not harmful to your baby but still, you cannot take any drugs without your doctor’s permission. Sominex and Benadryl contain diphenhydramine as an antihistamine and they are included in the Category B i.e. not to be used without a prescription.

Duration of Use:

If a doctor prescribes a sleeping pill according to your condition, you should make sure that you take the smallest dose for the limited duration of time. Doctors often prescribe them only if you have severe insomnia or you are in the middle of a trip. So, the use of these pills should be temporary to avoid the side effects.

Side Effects:

Apart from the danger, they pose to your baby, you may become overly dependant upon these pills. Some OTC drugs cause drowsiness and difficulty in concentration even after you have taken enough sleep. Barbiturates lower the IQ level of your newborn and can also cause jaundice, trouble in breathing, unstable temperature weakness, irritability and signs of withdrawal in your baby as the short term side effects.

Side Effects of sleeping pills

What Sleep Aids Are Safe During Pregnancy?

Deprived of the sleeping pills, you are surely looking for something to get you to sleep peacefully and nicely. No worries, there are some of the natural remedies which can promise you to have a good night’s sleep and you will wake up happy and healthy in the morning. You can choose these sleeping aids during pregnancy for they are perfectly safe.

1- Good Habits:

Yes, you heard right. Good habits are really helpful in getting sleep. You have to set up your routine and strictly follow it. You will see the difference for yourself.

  • Get to bed as early as possible (maximum stay up until 11 pm).
  • Keep the lights dim and turn off all the electronics (including clocks) so you won’t be disturbed during your sleep.
  • Do not use a computer or mobile phone or watch TV before bed they keep your mind awake and working for a long time.
  • Get a lot of natural light during the day as it is necessary to regulate the hormone Melatonin that influences your sleep/wake cycles.

2- Use Extra Pillows:

Pillows can be a great help when you are sleeping, especially during pregnancy. You can put several pillows around you in different ways to relax your body.

Use Extra Pillows

  • Put one under the knees or between the legs to support your lower back.
  • A pillow under the tummy can make you comfortable while you are sleeping on your side.
  • You can raise your head with a pillow to relieve yourself from heartburn.
  • Egg crate foam mattress pad is commonly used for the relief of hip pain during pregnancy.
  • Special pillows are available in the market for pregnant women like full-length body pillows, C and U-shaped pillows and single/double side wedge pillows.

3- Relax Your Body:

If your body is tensed you can’t sleep well. So it is necessary to relax your body before sleep.

  • You can try yoga and stretch to make your body relaxed, tone and flexible.
  • Massage your extremities and neck to relax the muscles as they become taught during the day.
  • Lie down and take slow deep breaths to ease the tension of your body and lower your heart rate. Then, you will be able to sleep better.
  • Take a warm bath before going to bed and if this is not possible, just wash your feet with the lukewarm water as it relaxes your body.

4- Healthy Eating:

Eating can surely affect your sleep whether you believe it or not. What you eat and when you eat it, both equally contribute to your sleep at night.

Healthy Eating

  • Avoid spicy and heavy meals before bed as they will cause heartburn and indigestion.
  • Take a glass of warm milk before bed for soothing and relaxing your body.
  • Choose high protein bedtime snacks (such as turkey, bananas etc) as they have some natural sleep-inducing amino acids.
  • Eat healthy foods, rich in carbohydrates and proteins, to regulate your blood sugar level and thus, relieve you from bad dreams, headache, nausea and full body sweats etc at nights.
  • Keep some dry snacks at your bedside table so you don’t have to go out to satisfy your nighttime cravings.

5- Exercise:

Exercise is a healthy way of living even for moms to be. Add it to the routine to do some exercises during the day and you will find yourself sleeping calmly at night.


  • Choose some light exercises according to your condition (as your body gets heavier with time and movement becomes difficult).
  • A morning or evening walk can refresh your mind and can keep your power up all the day and make your nights restful.
  • Some leg and foot exercises can ease the pain in your legs and save you from muscle cramps at night when you are sleeping.
  • Do not try any exercise on your own without asking your doctor and avoid heavy exercises as they can be a threat to your baby’s health.

6- Medication:

If none of these treatments work, ask your doctor and he will prescribe you a pill (a Class B) to help you sleep. Keep following in mind while taking your drugs:

  • Doctors mostly give an OTC like Benadryl or Sominex. They will leave you drowsy in the morning and you will find difficulty in concentration.
  • You can experience impaired alertness and dizziness all the day as a side effect.
  • Do not drive or operate any machinery if you are using sleeping pills or you can harm yourself.
  • You should not take these pills unless you have no other options available for getting to sleep.

Tips and Precautions:

  • If your thoughts and dreams don’t let you sleep at night, share them with a close friend or your partner to ease your mind.
  • Say No to smoking and alcohol when you are pregnant. It can keep you awake at night in addition to the harm it will do to your baby. Alcohol keeps you drowsy but it will alter your natural sleep cycles.
  • Nicotine makes your body restless rather than relaxing it. So, that is also off the limits.
  • Some moms-to-be think that herbs are a better option but they don’t know that some of the herbal remedies are even dangerous than pills.
  • Do not use, even the herbal tea, without taking advice from your doctor as they are not clinically proven to be safe.
  • Even some essential oils can prove dangerous for your health. So, take an aroma therapist’s opinion before using any kind of oil or aromatherapy.

How did you find this information useful? Share with us, if you got help from this article in your comments below.

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