Sleep well... naturally!
SLEEP EVOLVES WITH EACH TRIMESTER
Sleeping is not a waste of time. It is, in fact, an essential activity if you are to remain good-humoured and retain awareness, respiratory and muscular efficacy, and avoid fatigue, tension and small worries. So sleep is restorative and optimizes all of your body’s functions. During pregnancy, it is therefore more important than ever to ensure your sleep is of good quality trimester by trimester as it changes constantly.
First trimester : The sudden rush of progesterone, a naturally sedative hormone, causes an irrepressible urge to sleep all day long. This is completely normal. Ideally, you shouldn’t fight this... When working, the solution is to take a 10 to 20 minute nap, depending on your schedule: the energy gained is equal to 10 or even 15 times the duration of the nap.
Second trimester : With the anxiety and nausea of the first trimester passed, the new hormonal situation stabilized, sleep returns to normal. This is the time to make the most of the day, ensuring it does not eat into your restorative sleep time. Everyone has their quota but in general, it is equivalent to one hour less than natural sleep time during the holidays.
Third trimester : The closer to term you get, the more your sleep is disturbed. Besides a growing tummy and its little inhabitant becoming increasingly lively, other factors promote waking at night: itchy skin, night cramps, back pain, etc. This is where you have to be most vigilant and do everything you can to be in the best of health on the day of delivery.
TEN TIPS FOR SLEEPING WELL
Sleeping on your stomach is neither forbidden or dangerous. But as the pregnancy develops, the position clearly becomes more uncomfortable. For this reason, but also to make it easier to breathe and optimize the baby’s oxygenation, during the last months it is recommended you sleep on your left side and get into good habits to ensure a good night’s sleep:
1/ Respect your biological clock : Be sure to expose yourself to daylight during the day and sleep in darkness at night, as these contrasts are the basis of sleep and waking cycles. If not, melatonin secretion, which gives the body the signal to sleep, is disrupted. Remove any screens from the room that flash when on standby!
2/ Be active during the day : To access deep, restorative sleep, you need to be active during the day. Make your mind and your body work (read, take up a creative hobby; spend half an hour a day walking, swimming or practising yoga), remembering to slow down and stop at the right time: at least three hours before going to bed.
3/ Dinner should be light...but not too light : Meals that are too heavy disrupt sleep by increasing body temperature. But if the meal is too light, you may wake up feeling hungry. Ideally: vegetables, protein (eggs, ham, fish, etc.), complex sugars (rice, bread, cereals), dairy products and fruit, two or three hours before going to bed.
4/ Rule out alcohol and nicotine: Two bad habits that also disrupt sleep. Alcohol disrupts the sleep’s quality and nicotine, like coffee, is a stimulant that makes you wake up often.
5/ Choose the right bed: Too firm and the weight of your body rests too much on the shoulders and hips, too soft and the neck, middle of the back and backbone are not properly supported. You can elevate the legs at the foot of the bed to improve venous return. And use a nursing cushion placed between the thighs and along the stomach to relieve tension and lie comfortably on your side.
6/ Relax the epidermis : A warm shower (not more than 37°C) has no equal in the evening for relaxing your mind and preparing your body for sleep. And, when you come out of the shower, refreshing treatments for tired legs and anti-stretch-mark products will be even more effective. As will moisturizing and soothing treatments that guarantee a night without tightness or itching for ultra-sensitive skins.
7/ Establish a ritual: At the first sign (yawning, stinging sensation in the eyes), start an appropriate routine that will always facilitate sleep. Drink a herbal tea or glass of milk, air your room and turn the heating down (18°C) in order to reduce your body temperature.
8 / Breathe deeply: Practise abdominal breathing and visualization to help you fall asleep quickly. Lie down with your eyes closed, breathe deeply and slowly about ten times from the abdomen and aim to fully relax all the muscles of your body. Then visualize all of the details in a calm place.
9/ Stabilize sleep: Waking up regularly at the same time, including at weekends and when on holiday, facilitates waking/sleep synchronization. But if you are very tired, do not hesitate to have a lie in or a siesta to make up for it.
A HELPING HAND FROM COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
In the case of repeated sleepless nights or waking up repeatedly, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor about it, who, depending on your case, will be able to point you in the direction of the most appropriate solution. You should never self medicate, as this runs the risk of side effects! However, the range of complementary medicines is vast.
Behavioural therapy: consists of no longer facilitating insomnia by learning, among other things, how and when to go to bed.
Phytotherapy:Certain plants promote sleep. So herbal teas are a good idea, particularly chamomile and vervain.
Homeopathy: During pregnancy, numerous allopathic medicines are prohibited. This is not the case with homeopathy, however, which, depending on your personality and the type of insomnia in question, could be very helpful.
Acupuncture: According to Chinese medicine, trouble sleeping is caused by poor circulation of energy (chi), which can be rebalanced by acting on different points of the body.
Relaxation: Yoga, meditation and sophrology can help you to find the calm necessary for sleep.