Sleeping While Pregnant

Expectant parents know that it’ll be harder to get a good night’s sleep after their little one arrives, but who would have guessed that getting enough sleep during pregnancy would be difficult too?

When you’re pregnant, your body goes through a variety of changes and thee changes tend to disrupt your usual slumber. This can be due to the increased size of your abdomen, back pain, heartburn, shortness of breath or insomnia.

If you’ve always been a back or stomach sleeper, you might have trouble getting used to sleeping on your side, which is the most recommended sleeping position for pregnant women. It’s even better to sleep on your left side because it will increase the amount of blood and nutrients that reach the placenta and your baby.

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If you are having problems with back pain, use the “SOS” (sleep on side) position and try placing a pillow under your abdomen as well.

If you are experiencing heartburn during the night, you may want to try propping your upper body up with pillows.

In late pregnancy you may start to experience shortness of breath. Lying on your side or propping yourself up with pillows can help alleviate this issue.

It is important to avoid sleeping on your back during pregnancy because this can cause problems with backaches, breathing, your digestive system, hemorrhoids, low blood pressure and decrease circulation to your heart and your baby. These are all a result of your abdomen resting on your intestines and major blood vessels.

It’s also important to avoid getting used to sleeping on your stomach. When you are farther along in your pregnancy, your abdomen undergoes physical changes that will make it very difficult to lie no your stomach.

Early in your pregnancy, try getting into the habit of sleeping on your side to avoid major discomfort during the later stages of pregnancy. Shifting positions is a natural part of sleeping that you can’t control so don’t drive yourself crazy worrying that you might roll over onto your back during the night. If you do shift onto your back, the discomfort will most likely wake you up.

Naps and Brain Benefits

475981169-smallNapping can have great benefits for your brain and body, but sometimes after waking up a from a nap, you feel groggy and almost as if you are more tired than you were before taking the nap. When you sleep for too long during a nap, you fall into a stage of sleep that is difficult to get out of.

Sleep experts suggest that taking a 10 to 20 minute power nap can give you a quick burst of alertness and mental clarity when you don’t have much time. This length limits you to the lighter stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep, making it easier to get moving after waking up.

Studies show that sleeping for 30 minutes may cause sleep inertia, a hangover-like groggy feeling that can last for up to 30 minutes after waking up, before the nap’s restorative benefits become apparent.

60 minute long naps are best for improvement in remembering facts, faces and names. Hour long naps include “slow-wave” sleep which is the deepest type. The downside for sleeping this long is some grogginess upon waking up.

A full cycle of sleep is 90 minutes long, which includes the lighter and deeper stages, REM sleep and the dreaming stage. 90 minute long naps can lead to improved emotional and procedural memory and creativity. A nap of this length is typically easier to wake up from as well.

If you plan on taking shorter naps, it helps to sit up slightly as it will allow you to avoid falling into a deeper sleep. If you dream during these power naps, then it could be a sign that you are sleep deprived and need to get more hours of quality sleep each night.

Smartphone Apps to Help You Sleep

Everyone has trouble falling asleep. Studying for school, stressed about work and over indulging in your favorite TV shows until all hours of the night can leave your mind and body too stimulated to rest.

In most cases, your smartphone may not the best source of relaxation. It’s easy to get distracted with social apps and games that can keep you up. Now there are plenty of apps that can also help you fall asleep.

 app-sleepcycle Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock

One of the keys to good sleeping habits is getting into a cycle or pattern. This app not only analyzes and graphs your sleep quality, but also lets you add sleep notes and wakes you up at your lightest sleep time using soothing tones. To use this all, all you need to do it place your iPhone under a sheet on a corner of your bed and the rest happens automatically!

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Sleep

This app can help send you into dreamland with hundreds of soothing sounds, gentle lullabies and hours of relaxing music. This app is perfect for an overworked mind and designed to help you unwind and release all the tensions of your day.

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Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

Seattle-based app developer HiveBrain Software teamed up with highly acclaimed hypnotherapist Andrew Johnson to bring you guided meditation. Johnson’s soothing voice will take you on a journey to a more peaceful place and leave you deeply relaxed with a clear mind as you drift off to sleep.

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Yoga for Insomnia

Yoga for Insomnia is based on traditional Hatha yoga practices and incorporates poses that stretch and relax the body. Mindfulness and breathing techniques are combines with soothing music and illustrations of poses to create a restful ambiance.

While these apps can be useful to help you doze off or learn more about your sleep, they are not able to diagnose or treat any potential sleep illnesses you feel you may have.

Mattress Types

Mattresses are designed to provide the support and comfort you need to relax and rest. If you’ve had your mattress for a while, it may be time to buy a new one. Research shows that people sleep better and suffer less back pain when sleeping on a newer bed. Matching your specific comfort needs is important when choosing the right mattress because mattresses are made with a variety of materials and technologies that meet a broad array of people’s needs, tastes and budgets.

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According to consumer reports, mattresses should be evaluated every seven to ten years for quality and support. There are many options to choose from if you haven’t shopped for a new mattress recently:

– Innerspring Mattress – Uses a steel coil system. The greater number of coils, the more points of support and greater distribution, and the bed can better contour and support the sleeper.

– Foam Mattress – Uses one or more types of foam for support. The foam used in these mattresses can be manufactured in a variety of shapes and densities.

– Hybrid Mattress – Combines steel coil support and one or more types of foam.

– Pillow Top Mattress – Provides an additional upholstery layer sewn into the top of the mattress. This layer can be made from a variety of fiber and foam materials.

– Gel Mattress – Uses a type of foam that contains gel in the product’s support system, upholstery layers, or both.

– Memory Foam Mattress – Uses high density polyurethane foam as the support system, in the upholstery layer, or both.

Often times people tend to repurchase the same type of mattress they had before out of fear of making a costly mistake or because they are unsure of their options. Researching products takes time, something many of us have little of to spare, but it is important to consider all your options so you are better equipped to cut through the hype and choose a bed that meets your needs.

Falling Asleep When You’re Wide Awake

Not being able to fall asleep when you want to is agonizing. In order to get a better night’s sleep, you need to perfect your sleep hygiene. This includes developing a regular sleep schedule, using your bed only for sleep and ditching electronics and caffeine before bedtime. Following these tips may also help you sleep easier:

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Get Out of Bed

Lying awake in bed sends your body the wrong message, saying it’s okay to lie there and not sleep and your mind can get conditioned to that. If you’re unable to sleep for a 15-20 minute stretch, get up and out of the room and try something relaxing like reading or listening to soothing music.

Try Relaxation Techniques

A simple way to unwind is through breathing. Simply note the rising and falling of your breath and focus on parts of your body where you feel the slow inhales and exhales, whether it’s in the lungs, abdomen, or anywhere else.

Ease Anxiety

Sometimes sleeplessness stems from worry. If your mind is consistently in overdrive at night, try scheduling a time during the day to write down what is worrying you and where you stand with it. This helps by putting your worries out in the open instead of keeping them in your racing mind. By systematically documenting your worries during the day, ideally, you’ll be less likely to fixate on them at night.

If your sleeplessness is frequent and impairing your daytime behavior, bring it up with your physician. When people start to feel like they’re worried about their sleep during the day, then it’s time for some guidance from a professional to help you sleep at night.

Sleepwalking

154452003-smallSleepwalking is a sleep disorder that causes people to get up and walk or perform other activities while sleeping. Symptoms of sleepwalking disorder ranges from simply sitting up and looking around, to walking around, to leaving and even driving long distances. It is a common misconception that a sleepwalker should not be awakened. It is not dangerous to wake them up, although it is common for the person to be confused or disoriented for a short period of time after being woken up.

There are several factors that may be involved in the development of sleepwalking that may include genetics, environment and medical conditions.

Sleepwalking occurs more frequently in identical twins and is 190 times more likely to occur if s first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, has a history of sleepwalking.

Environmental factors that may cause a person to sleepwalk include: sleep deprivation, stress, alcohol intoxication and drugs such as sedatives, neuroleptics (drugs used to treat psychosis), stimulants and antihistamines.

Medical conditions that have been linked to sleepwalking include: abnormal heart rhythms, fever, nighttime asthma, nighttime seizures and certain psychiatric disorders such a PTSD, panic attacks or multiple personality disorder.

Usually, no exams are tests are necessary for determining whether a person sleepwalks. However a medical evaluation may be completed to rule out any medical causes of sleepwalking.

A person who has a sleepwalking disorder can take these measures of treatment to help prevent any future instances:

– Get adequate sleep
– Meditate or do relaxation exercises
– Avoid any kind of stimuli before bed

Medications for treatment of this disorder may be necessary if there is a high possibility of injury, if the disorder is causing significant disruption to the family and daytime schedule or when all other measures have proven ineffective.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation

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We all know not getting enough sleep at night can make us cranky in the morning. What we don’t know is how lack of sleep impacts the rest of your body as well. It can affect your health, looks and even your ability to lose weight.

Sleep Loss Dumbs You Down

Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning and lack of sleep can hurt these cognitive processes. It impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. During the night, various sleep cycles play a role in “consolidating” memories in the mind. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you won’t be able to remember what you learned and experienced during the day.

Serious Health Problems

Sleep disorders and chronic sleep loss can put you at risk for:

– Heart disease
– Heart attack
– Heart failure
– Irregular heartbeat
– High blood pressure
– Stroke
– Diabetes

According to some estimates, 90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition.

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Lack of Sleep Ages Your Skin

Many people have experienced sickly, yellow skin and puffy eyes as a result of missing a few nights of sleep. It turns out that chronic sleep loss can also lead to lackluster skin, fine lines and dark circles under the eyes.

When you don’t get enough sleep your body releases more stress hormones. In excess amounts, this hormone can break down skin collagen, the protein that keep skin smooth and elastic.