Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Insomnia and Pregnancy

Insomnia plagues a lot of pregnant women, myself included. It seems as if the further I progress through my pregnancy, the worse it gets, and this comes as no surprise considering that weight gain, heartburn, muscle cramps and more pregnacy discomforts make it next to impossible to sleep! I've been researching methods for improving my sleep quality, and here are a few suggestions that I would like to share:

Natural Helps

Chamomile Tea-chamomile is a naturally relaxing flowering herb that can often be found in tea form. I have found a steaming hot cup of chamomile tea with honey taken right before bedtime to be quite soothing. My favorite brand is Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea, which has a very mild, minty flavor.

Lavendar-lavendar is well-known for it's sedative effect and is commonly used for aromatherapy purposes. Try taking a warm pre-bed soak in the tub with 5-6 drops of lavendar essential oil, or try adding 2-3 drops of the oil to a washcloth and toss it in the dryer when drying bed sheets.

Light Yoga/Stretching-relaxes tight muscles, encouraging a more restful sleep. Yoga is also beneficial to stress: easing the mind before sleep keeps thoughts from racing all night, thus inducing deeper sleep. NOTE:avoid strenuous exercise at least two hours before bedtime, as it can make it more dificult to wind down and iterrupts sleep.

Choose the Right Snack!-pregnant ladies love to snack! (well, at least this one does!) Eating a light snack in the evening is ok, but be choosy about what you eat, and avoid eating too close to bedtime, as this can cause heartburn, a BIG cause of insomnia! Some snacks to try:

Turkey and crackers--turkey contains a sleep-inducing compound called tryptophan, and of course the protien is good for pregnant women. Whole-wheat crackers are best, as they are a complex carbohydrate.

Cheese or Yogurt--calcium prevents muscle cramps and promotes relaxations. Pregnant women need to consume a fairly high level of calcium daily. Another good option is a warm glass of milk, sweetened with honey, and perhaps flavored with vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Almonds or Cashews--Tree nuts are high in magnesium, which pregnant women need to consume in high levels along with calcium. Promotes tension relief. Nut butters are a good source of magnesium as well; try smearing a little on crackers or an English muffin.

A Small Bowl of Bran Flakes--high in fiber, another necessary nutrient, and of course, the milk is rich in calcium. Try topping the cerel with a sliced banana for a potassium boost, another natural muscle cramp reliever.

Other Tips

Don't dwell on it!-if you go to bed thinking that you won't be able to sleep, then you probably won't! Try to stay relaxed.

Don't get up!-this is a hard one for me! Its better to just stay in bed than get up and get busy, which will make you be more awake. If you absolutely can't stay in bed, do a quiet activity, such as reading, in a dimly-lit room. And if you watch TV, be mindful of what you watch--to much action can cause those endorphins to get revved up, making it nearly impossible to get back to sleep!

Pray!-use this time to commune with God. Sometimes when I pray and give all my cares and concerns over to God, I find it relaxes me enough to sleep better.

Write it Down!-writing down everything that you have to do the next day on your to-do list can ease your mind and keep you from dwelling on all the tasks you must do the following day.

What works for you to relieve insomnia? What natural remedies have helped you?

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