When you’re pregnant, your body goes through lots of physical changes. This may leave you feeling exhausted. Then there’s the fact that you’ve got a tiny human developing inside of you. Your baby needs rest, too—and she’s dependent on you to provide it for her.
But at times, it may feel like everything is against you getting the rest you really need.
Here are 7 tips for getting the quantity—and quality—of rest you need when you’re pregnant.
Know How Much Sleep You’re Actually Getting
Adults typically need 7 to 8 hours of sleep each day, says the National Institutes of Health. But because you’re sleeping for 2 people, feel free to aim for more than that. Try keeping track of how much snoozing you’re actually doing for a few weeks. You may be surprised to find out you’re coming up short on your much-needed Zzzzzs.
Establish a Sleep Routine
Practicing good sleep habits is especially important when you’re pregnant. Go to bed—and get up the next morning—at the same time each day, the United States Office on Women’s Health recommends.
Establishing a sleep routine can help your body get into a rhythm that leaves you feeling more rested. If you have difficulty falling asleep, head to bed earlier than normal.
In your 3rd trimester especially, you’ll want to sleep on your left side, says the National Sleep Foundation. This position provides the best blood flow to your baby, as well as to your uterus and kidneys.
Avoid sleeping on your back for extended periods of time, the Foundation suggests. If you’re having a hard time getting comfortable, try using pillows to support your back, knees or stomach, recommends the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.
Eat and Drink the Right Foods at the Right Times
Drinking lots of liquids during the daytime and cutting down before bed is a good way to stay hydrated and avoid making a dozen trips to the bathroom at night, the National Sleep Foundation says.
If you suffer from nighttime heartburn, avoid spicy, acidic or fried foods. You may also want to try sleeping with your head raised on some extra pillows.
And if nausea is an issue, snacking on bland foods frequently—like saltine crackers—can help prevent nausea and keep you feeling full.
Exercise During the Day
Getting regular exercise is not just good for your overall health. It can improve circulation and lessen pregnancy-related leg cramps, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Before you hit the gym, though, be sure to ask your doctor which kinds of exercises are right for your stage of pregnancy.
Napping is a good way to catch up on lost sleep during pregnancy.
More than half of pregnant or recently pregnant women reported that they napped at least once during the week according to a National Sleep Foundation poll. The same poll also found that 60% of these respondents reported taking a minimum of one nap on the weekends as well.
Change the Way You Think About Sleep
Remember, once your baby arrives, your sleep schedule will be infrequent at best, especially if you plan on breastfeeding. So establishing good sleep habits during pregnancy is an important way to set yourself up for good sleep habits after your baby is born.
And good sleep habits are important not only because they make you feel better during the day. They’re also a key part of keeping you and your baby healthy.