Tips from our In House Sleep Expert – Amanda Bude
Most women that are pregnant or have been pregnant are very aware of having interrupted sleep. I lost count of the number of times I ended up on the couch, surrounded by cushions, or for hours on end tossed and turned, and jealously watched my husband snooze away! I could not get comfortable, up to the bathroom constantly, suffering from leg cramps, constant nausea and of course that ever present excitement and anxiety running through my mind at 3am (just how much do I need to pack to go to hospital for twins?)!!
Did you know up to 78% of woman suffer insomnia or sleep problems during pregnancy-that is 8/10 women! Research shows that this sleep deprivation of course will follow through into the birth of your newborn, meaning you are sleep deprived BEFORE your little bundle of joy arrives. So how do you ensure you are getting good quality sleep, despite being at the mercy of our physical, hormonal and emotional changes?
1. Watch what and when you eat and drink in the hour before you go to bed.
There are many foods that you might need to swap to lunch time, or not eat immediately before bedtime, OR add in sleep inducing foods. Foods high in B3 (niacin) extend your REM cycle and limit the number of awakenings in the middle of the night (beets, pork, poultry and peanuts). Consider anti- sleep foods- a dinner containing broccoli which is high fibre and nutritious but can cause plenty of gas in your intestinal track, followed by a bowl of Ice-cream (fat content will slow down your digestion), can be a recipe for an irritated night! Wash that down with a citrus drink- these will irritate the esophagus by stimulating and irritating sensory nerves, causing inflammation on top of acid reflux!
Sleep inducing foods include the age old cup of warm milk. The amino acid tryptophan makes your eyelids heavy by raising levels of serotonin in your brain. This leads to a calming, and sleep-promoting effect. Combine this with a high protein snack/carb snack before bed to keep your blood sugar up, and stimulate the release of insulin. This will prevent nausea, bad dreams or sweats. Try half a sandwich with peanut butter, or an egg and see the difference over a week!
2. Make your bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary, and ONLY use it for sleep and sex!
Invest in a good quality mattress and pillow for head, back and tummy support, maybe a smaller pillow for under your hips. Bedroom temperature should be between 18-22 degrees for comfortable sleep. Dark enough and quiet enough so tempory block out blinds, and music to sleep and relax may need to be a consideration. Clean sheets, aromatherapy for pregnancy and sleep are also a lovely addition. Walk into your bedroom and ask yourself is there something that can be changed in regards to sleep? Ban all electronic equipment from the bedroom. That means i-phones and lap tops. EMF exposure before bedtime will disrupt quality of sleep. It will also help resist the temptation to check FaceBook, Pinterest and emails at 3am, by simply reaching over to the bedside table!
3. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.
In the hour before bed turn off all computer equipment, have a cup of soothing hot milk or herbal tea, listening to quiet music, listening to pregnancy hypnosis meditation or with a bath followed by an aromatic foot rub……hmmm yes!
4. Stick to a sleep schedule.
We are creatures of habit and conditioning, going to bed earlier means better sleep, and it resets our body clock- as my four year old little boy says to me “ good night mummy same bat time, same bat channel”! Adequate exposure to natural sunlight during the day, increases our melatonin levels, and serotonin levels, so at your lunch break pop outside for a quick indulge.
5. Learn how to relax by practising muscle relaxation techniques and visualisation.
I always recommend going to bed with meditation music. Choose your music by thinking is this relaxing to listen to? Make sure it goes for at least 60mins. Then once in a comfortable position starting from head to toe squeeze and relax all individual muscles till you reach your toes. Then scan your entire body for areas of tension and repeat, repeat, repeat! Whilst doing this visualise your most favourite place in nature, or an event in your life where you have been, happy, relaxed and at peace. Visit our website shop for guided relaxations and start conditioning your mind and body to relax down quickly!