Preparing for good sleep: what to do during the day

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by Professor Colin Espie

Regular exercise is good for sleep, and can help reduce leg cramps. Doctors recommend keeping up a normal routine of physical activity for as long as you feel comfortable. If you weren't super fit before pregnancy, take it gently. If you can hold a conversation while you're exercising without becoming breathless, it's probably not too strenuous.

If you experience heartburn, or reflux:

• avoid citrus fruits and juices, rich or fatty foods and spicy dishes

• eat small, regular meals, to reduce the content of the stomach at any one time

• caffeine and alcohol are likely to make reflux worse, and could also keep you awake at night.

If you feel sleepy during the day:

• If you're looking after young children, nap when they nap

• If you're at work, a lunchtime nap in a spare meeting room, or even in your car, could help you stay awake through the day

• Napping for less than 40 minutes at a time should help you to avoid feeling groggy. Set an alarm, and/or ask a friend to wake you up.

If you suffer from cramp, regularly stretching out your calves during the day and before bed may help to prevent problems occurring at night.

Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during the day, but cut back two hours before bedtime to reduce overnight bathroom trips.

Next: Winding down and drifting off: what to do at night

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