Everyone tells you how important it is to be rested when you’re pregnant: but that doesn’t make it any easier to do. Between the nausea, the bathroom runs, the backaches—not to mention the gymnastics going on in your belly—making great sleep your goal may seem like a stretch.
But a pretty good night’s sleep is very doable. Just follow a few tips at bedtime, and you’ll not only sleep better, you’ll start a routine that will really help when baby arrives.
Mama-to-be bedtime basics
1. Track to your bedtime
Pick a specific bedtime—and make it a thing. It’s key to being able to maintain a regular sleep-wake cycle, which will help you stay asleep at night.
2. Don’t eat or drink right before bed
Plan at least 2 hours between dinner and bed—and skip heavy, spicy foods that may cause heartburn. Drink your last liquids an hour before bed.
3. Take a warm bath
This will soothe, massage and relax you before bed—and may even temporarily quiet the little acrobat in your belly.
4. Do a few leg stretches
In the last months of pregnancy, many women experience leg cramps at night, causing wake-ups. This may be due to the pressure on your uterus—or low levels of calcium and magnesium. Typically, a few calf stretches before bed can help. If cramping is severe, check in with your doctor.
5. Prepare your pillows
Grab a pillow or two that you can put between bent knees, as you sleep. These will help stabilize you, and take pressure off your spine, hips and surrounding nerves—especially as you sleep on your left side. You may want to check out body pillows that are made specifically for pregnancy.
6. Crack a window
Many moms-to-be report higher body temps than usual, and tend to feel too hot at night. A cool breeze may help you drift off into sleep—and stay there.
7. Unwind slowly
To avoid insomnia, relax in bed for a little while before turning out the light. Read, listen to music, or meditate until you feel sleepy.
8. Pee right before light’s out!
You’ll want to stay hydrated all day, stopping only about an hour before bedtime. But if possible, pee at the very last second before going to sleep, so you won’t have to hit the bathroom again until morning.
Getting into a sleep routine now will put you ahead of the game—because you’ll soon need to put your new baby on a sleep schedule, too. Find out how the right baby bedtime routine can help.