Need sleep? Then keep reading. It is common for over 70% of women to have problems sleeping everynight, but when compounded with being pregnant makes it a whole lot worse. Women in the first trimester get on average of 7.4-8.2 hours of sleep, but the incidence of insomnia increases with increasing age of the fetus. Did you know that sleep rate disturbances goes from 13% in the 1st trimester, 19% in the 2nd trimester, and 66% in the third trimester. Pregnant women say that the majority of them can not stay asleep, followed by waking up too early, and only 23% said the difficulty was falling asleep. Let's address the problem head on and give some natural sleep remedies you can find in your kitchen cabinet, just listen.
Insomnia during pregnancy
Most women face sleeping difficulties when pregnant. During the first trimester, pregnant women seem to sleep a lot. But, the quality of their sleep drops tremendously. Pregnancy can lead to insomnia. It can also make you feel tired throughout the day. Insomnia-difficulty in falling or staying asleep- becomes common during the first and third trimester. It is caused by leg cramps, breast tenderness, heartburn, back pain, nausea, or the tendency of frequent urination. But don’t worry, because insomnia will not affect your baby.
What cave women can teach us about sleep patterns?
Adequate sleep dates back to cavemen and women, who on average had at least 8.5 hours of sleep according to the study done on hunters and gathers studied by the the University of California. When the sun goes down, they went to sleep, and when the sun came up they knew they needed to start work. Sleep is the one way you can reduce inflammation, stress, heart disease, and even improve immunity. You need to be getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, but let's be real in todays day and age who actually gets that much?
Circadian cycle for sleep and melatonin, the sleep hormone, production starts increasing levels later in the evening for adults. Let's bring out our light blocking curtains and bring us back to the cave. What I mean is that a new study by The Journal of Physiological Reports showed that children responded better to going off to sleep when no or very low light was utilized at least an hour before anticipated sleep. This study showed that we start secreting melatonin (sleep hormone secreted by the pineal gland that communicates neurologically with body's internal clock in the hypothalamus) the around 7:47pm, so since that was the natural "biological night" think about bedtime routine starting then. The cave environment was best, so get some black out curtains or install a low light dimming switch and keep light very low around bedtime. They also found that when exposed to light even after darkness, showed 50% less melatonin levels than if they were kept in the dark prior to bed, and bright light alone suppressed melatonin by over 90%.
What are the changes in body during pregnancy?
Estrogen and progesterone are the major hormones that affect pregnancy. High levels of progesterone lead to the enlargement of certain internal organs. For instance, during pregnancy, the size of the uterus increases up to five times its normal size at the end of the gestation period.
For an average pregnancy, the mother’s weight is expected to increase by 9-12 kg. If you are pregnant with more than one fetus, the weight also increases. The increase in weight depends on the number of fetuses in the uterus.
The size of the heart may increase during pregnancy to effectively support the workload. The blood volume also increases during pregnancy to provide the extra blood flow through the placenta delivering oxygen and other nutrients to the fetus. Blood volume increases due to an increase in the number of red blood cells in circulation and the increase in the blood plasma volume.
Progesterone lowers blood pressure particularly in early pregnancy due to slight relaxation in the vessels of blood. Reduced blood pressure causes dizziness. As the baby grows, you may experience indigestion or shortage of breath because the developing fetus crowds your lungs and pushes your stomach higher.
During pregnancy, the gastrointestinal system walls slightly relax. The speed at which food moves along the gut reduces to create room for maximum absorption of nutrients into your blood. Sadly, you may experience constipation or nausea.
You also experience frequent urination particularly during the start and towards the end of pregnancy due to an increase in the size of uterus pressing against the bladder.
Stretch marks may appear during pregnancy. They are caused by hormonal changes and mechanical stretching of your growing breasts and abdomen. The breasts start to produce colostrum in the second trimester.
Sleeping on the Back while Pregnant
During the last trimester of your pregnancy, you should avoid sleeping on your back. Researches show that sleeping on your back may increase the risk of stillbirth due to compression of your major blood vessels that alters the heart rate of your baby.
When you continue sleeping on your back after 20 weeks of pregnancy, you may experience dizziness and shortage of breath. The best position that you should sleep during the third trimester is on your sides. Some doctors recommend sleeping on the left side arguing that sleeping on the left facilitates blood to flow more freely to your baby.
Pick any side that you can comfortably sleep because there is no difference in sleeping either on the left side or the right one. You can also use a variety of pillows to support your body parts as you get used to side-sleeping. Waking up on your back during the last trimester of pregnancy should not raise an alarm.
Natural sleep aid - Moon Milk
Let me introduce you to moon milk. Moon milk is the combination of warm milk, nutmeg, and ashwagandha to help combat against sleeplessness. Nutmeg when ingested breaks down into 3 components and both help to decrease everyday stress, blocks excitation hormones, and has a mild natural sedative effect at high concentrations. If you make your own nutmeg tea using up to 1/4 of a teaspoon, make sure to use the same amount of ground ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is a leaf that is rich in triethylene glycol that helps produce REM and non rapid eye movement sleep and has been studied to help correct the imbalance of the central nervous system. Better communication signals sleep now to the brain. And these 2 active ingredients, Nutmeg & Ashwagandha, mixed with warm milk gets your little one closer to counting sheep with every sip they take.
Moon Milk Tea Recipe
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ashwagandha
A teaspoon of honey
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup of warm milk
Best Sleep Aid
Make sure that you smell your tea because the most active form of nutmeg to express Dopamenergic & GABA hormones for sleep happen via aromatherapy. Other aromatic essential oil lavendar in combination with acupressure on HT7 is NoMo Sleepless Nights in a stylish nighttime wristband you can find at www.NoMoWristbands.com, walmart dot com, amazon and in CVS locations since over 6000 stores carry the NoMo brand. Research finds that the 3:1 combination in NoMo Sleepless Nights helps to put people off to sleep quicker and keep them asleep longer.
Best position for the adult airway can be obtained by a small folded blanket placed under the shoulders. Or sleeping on the side moves tissue in the neck for better oxygenation and less snoring, trust me your partner will thank me for the small a small ramp idea. This position is especially helpful when sick so the nasal congestion or mucus runs down with gravity. You may want to consider a humidifier, eucalyptus oil, or vicks on their chest to open their airway. Snoring really loud and the lack of getting oxygen, similar to a minor obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), will cause them to wake up abruptly. If you notice that they are stuffier at night, it could be because they have an allergy to the composition of the pillow (down feathers or latex are common allergens), the laundry detergent used (try something natural or with no fragrances), or if it is too hard their chin might be hitting their neck which restricts their ability to breath.
Things to help you sleep
We already discussed your Circadian cycle and how light determines the amount of sleep hormones you produce, but what about all of the light producing technology that’s all around you 24-7? Your eyes are more sensitive to light because your pupils are larger, which hits the retina and creates an even stronger signal to the internal clock. Television, computers, cell phones contain a blue light wavelength that can suppress your body from creating melatonin. Don't look at your phone or watch TV for 45 minutes before sleep. For those of you who use TV as a sleep aid, studies show it will have you wake up more in the middle of the night. Noise can be imperative for some to fall asleep, so try white noise, sounds of nature, or even a fan or air purifier instead. Grab a book, not a kindle, and start to read. According to University of Sussex, 6 minutes of reading before bed can reduce stress by 68% and prepare the body for bed. Your eyes, even with your eyelids closed, is super sensitive to light, so if you find it difficult to wake up in the morning, try getting a sunrise clock that keeps increasing the light as the time they need to get up approaches. Homo sapiens, from the cave to modern day, we as people need sleep to love happier and healthier lives.
Sleeping pills If You Struggle to Sleep
If you find it hard to fall or stay asleep at night, as a last resort, you may consider using sleep medication. There are certain prescribed sleep medicines like valerian and melatonin that you can take. You should carefully use sleeping aids, and always consult your OBGYN prior to taking them. When misused, you can end up developing disturbed sleep behaviors like sleeping while driving.