Friday, February 5, 2010

Sleep When You Want…For As Long As You Want!

You can stop the two most popular sleeping monsters from scaring off ‘sound sleep.’ To tame them, follow these simple suggestions. By Kaye Langit-Luistro

Now that you are expecting, you seem to look at situations through “rose-colored glasses.” You may feel as regal as the “Queen of England” with all the pampering given by your partner, family members, relatives and friends, during this exciting phase. But what may ruin your “reign” is lack of sleep at night. “I have this patient, who tells me that no matter what she does, she still falls asleep at around 12 or 2 am,” relates Ann C. Natividad, MD, Obstetrician-Gynecologist and Sonologist at Dr. Jesus Delgado Memorial Hospital.

Sleep Monster 1: The Sleep Robber

It is very stressful when you can’t doze off, no matter what sleeping position you take or how many ‘sheep jumping off the fence’ you have counted! For sure you will become irritable, get tired easily and experience mood swings the next day. Grace Tolentino-Castillo knows this fully well. On her second and third pregnancies, her physician put her on a complete bed rest because her cervix was already open. Starting from 6 months, she was only allowed to stand up for her bathroom breaks. It is true, she says, that although you are lying down, you don’t automatically enter dreamland! And when I did want to fall asleep, my baby was on a different schedule—he wanted to ‘practice his kicking and swimming skills inside my belly,’ Tolentino-Castillo adds.

Potion #1: How to Induce Sleep

When patients ask Dr. Natividad how to treat this problem once and for all, she recommends getting down and active in the day. Schedule errands, finish chores and other responsibilities from 8am to 5pm, for instance. “Don’t nap during the day so you can sleep soundly at night,” advices Dr. Natividad. “Most moms can no longer sleep at night, because they slept for hours during the day.”

Sleep Monster 2: Oversleeping

For Lerna Sabado, fighting off sleep, especially during working hours, was her biggest problem. “During my first pregnancy, I went to work at 5:30 in the morning so I woke up at 4 or 4:30.” When 7 or 8 am hits, Sabado’s eyelids seem to have a mind of their own—they closed automatically. She fought hard against sleep during the first 7 months of pregnancy.

Our grandparents refer to it as part of “paglilihi” or ‘infanticipating.’ But in reality, Dr. Ann explains “there is a hormone secreted during the first five months of pregnancy called “B HCG that increases a mother’s need for sleep.” But after the sixth month, it starts to fade away. Another reason is that a pregnant woman’s heartbeat works for two people—hers and the baby. That’s why the mother gets tired easily and prefers to rest all the time.

Potion # 2: Balance sleep and activity

Your metabolism really slows down when you sleep, explains Dr. Ann. Pregnant women who do are not involved in any aerobic and weight training programs, and clock in more than 8 hours of sleep, are expected to add a few extra pounds, beyond the required weight gain.

How to solve the problem? Opt to wake up and sleep at regular hours. This might sound cruel, but this simple practice helps ward off oversleeping. With a little help from your partner or family member, you can greet the sunshine peering through your window panes, with a perky “Good morning!” Saying no to naps during daytime and restricting sleep at night, may just be the best way to tame those pesky sleep monsters, after all.

How to achieve the perfect sleeping position?
Authors Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg and Sandy Hathaway of the bestselling book “What to expect when you’re expecting” write that you need to obtain the best positions when sleeping and getting out of the bed, to keep body aches and accidents at bay:

1. “Sleep on a firm mattress, or put a board under an overly soft one. A comfortable sleeping position aided by a body pillow-one that’s at least 5 feet long will help minimize aches and pains when you’re awake.”
2. “When getting out of bed, swing your legs over the bed to the floor, rather than twisting to get up.”

Day Sleep?
Now that more and more moms are entering the “call center workforce,” their sleeping patterns have gone haywire, because they work on graveyard shifts. “I’ve lots of patients from call centers who have erratic sleep patterns,” relates Dr. Natividad. “I advised them to have their shifts transferred in the morning so as not to alter their normal sleeping time. Because if you work at night, and sleep in the morning, you won’t get enough rest because the house is usually abuzz with activity.”

A regular sleeping pattern is not only helpful to the mother’s energy level but also to the baby’s growth and development. But if you really can’t get out of that set-up, aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep everyday, and you’ll be okay, explains Dr. Natividad. “But I still prefer that the mother sleeps at night, not during the day for better health.”

Footnote: I was given this assignment by my editor at Moms and Babies Magazine. When the magazine changed image, unfortunately, my article was never published. But why waste a good article, right? Hope you liked it!
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