Sleeping Pills in Pregnancy: Is It Safe, Risks & Side Effects

Use of Sleeping Pills During Pregnancy

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

Most women have trouble sleeping at some point in their pregnancy, especially in the third trimester of the pregnancy. Insomnia or the inability to fall asleep is a common problem during pregnancy and if left untreated for long, chronic insomnia during pregnancy may cause depression in to-be-mothers. Insomnia during pregnancy may tempt you to reach for the over-the-counter drug but it may not be exactly safe for your developing baby. Ideally, all drugs should be avoided during pregnancy but then there are some medications that might help you sleep better, but they should be taken only after consulting a doctor.

Types of Sleeping Pills

There are many types of sleeping pills available in the market but there are few of them that have addictive properties:

Sleep Medication Helps you fall asleep Helps you stay asleep Can lead to dependence
Doxepin (Silenor) Yes
Estazolam Yes Yes Yes
Eszopiclone (Lunesta) Yes Yes Yes
Ramelteon (Rozerem) Yes
Temazepam (Restoril) Yes Yes Yes
Triazolam (Halcion) Yes Yes
Zaleplon (Sonata) Yes Yes
Zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo, Zolpimist) Yes Yes
Zolpidem extended-release (Ambien CR) Yes Yes Yes


This table represents the medication that might make you fall asleep, help you stay asleep, and the ones that are addictive. Some people can sleep, but they have a problem staying asleep as they get up regularly and ultimately they are sleep deprived. So choosing the one that is best for you is a little tough so it is always better to take the suggestion from a doctor.

Factors Affecting Sleep in Pregnant Women

There are many factors that affect sleep patterns in pregnant women. These factors can be easily eliminated when caught early on in their inception. The main factors are:

  • Anxiety
  • Congested feelings
  • Alcohol usage
  • Uncomfortable position
  • Drinking excess water before sleep
  • Uncomfortable nightwear

Is it Safe to Take Sleeping Pills During Pregnancy?

Sleeping pills are not recommended for longer durational use for anyone. But if a pregnant woman is suffering from insomnia then antihistamines, diphenhydramine and doxylamine are considered to be safe. These drugs are found in Benadryl and can induce sleep.

Risks and Side Effects of Taking Sleeping Pills When Pregnant

Sleeping pills and pregnancy do not go well hand in hand. That is the reason why sleeping pills recommended by doctors are very rare and under extreme conditions only. Other prescription drugs like barbiturates are not recommended. Links have been found to birth defects and barbiturates, benzodiazepines etc., so prolonged use of prescription sleeping pills are not at all recommended even by doctors during pregnancy.

Home Remedies for Better Sleep

There is a list of home remedies for better sleep and it has health benefits too for you as well as the foetus:

  1. Sleep in a Spacious Bedroom: Make sure the bedroom you sleep in is spacious and airy. Do not turn on the air conditioners for a longer duration. Instead, use electric fans to make the room airier because foetuses develop faster in the fresh air.
  1. Wear Comfortable Nightwear: Pregnant women should wear loose and comfortable nightwear primarily made out of cotton so that it absorbs sweat and is airy. Tight or congested clothes at night can disturb you in your sleep and thus disturb your sleep pattern, leading to insomnia.


  1. Take Bath Before Sleeping: It is generally suggested to take a bath in 35-to-38°C water or soak your legs in warm water before going to sleep as it helps in lowering stress, relaxing the muscles, and also has a nice psychological effect before sleep.
  1. Avoid Drinking Alcohol: Drinking alcohol makes the nervous stimulated and keeps it in an excited state which is not good for a sound sleep. Moreover, like any other fluids, if you consume alcohol in large quantities, then it will fill your bladder and you will have to get up for nocturia which is not so good for your sleep. Alcohol is not recommended during pregnancy and hence should be avoided completely.
  1. Avoid High-Intensity Workouts Before Sleep: High-intensity exercise should be avoided during pregnancy as it draws out energy from the body, but it should be avoided mostly before sleep. Just a relaxing stroll is enough for the need to exercise before sleep.
  1. Drink Milk Before You Go to Bed: Drink a glass of warm milk 30 minutes before going to bed. The nutrients in milk are good for a pregnant lady as well as the foetus.
  2. Massage Gently: Moderately massaging a pregnant woman relieves the stress of muscles and helps her to relax. Moreover, it is also found that it also relieves mental stress too, encouraging sleep.
  3. Think Positive: While sleeping, try to think about positive things as it will help you stay calm and positive during pregnancy and help you relax. It will relax your nerves and promote sleep faster in pregnant mothers.
  4. Try Different Sleeping Positions: Some doctors say that sleeping one-sided helps in reducing pressure on the fetus as well as the mother, but it is prerogative of the concerned woman to choose her most comfortable position to get better sleep.

Drugs Prescribed By Doctors

There are categories of drugs according to their own country’s pharmacopoeia, but basically, it is segregated in 4 or 5 groups so that its efficacy and safety can be measured. Unfortunately, prescription sleeping pills are not kept in a safe zone. Prescription sleeping pills are addictive and dangerous in nature and should be taken under complete medical supervision.

Prolonged insomnia can lead to mental instability. But if you take a little care at the onset of insomnia then there are a number of methods where you can reverse the effects and lead a healthy life. But if you feel that sleeping pills have become inevitable then definitely follow your doctor’s instruction to the letter when it comes to sleeping pills.

Also read: Effects Of Pregnancy On Your Sleep

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