Did you know that you will spend 1/3 of your life sleeping? Yet so many of us find it difficult to either fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up feeling refreshed.
As a massage therapist I am used to expectant mums falling asleep on the treatment table, which is why I have compiled my top tips to sleeping like a baby during pregnancy and beyond.
If you are not planning on having any more kids, read on, these tips can help you too!
Set the Mood
Having a comfortable and cozy bedroom set up can help you drift of deeply and easily. Making sure that your bedroom is dark, that temperature is not too hot and that your bedding and linen is nice and soft. A dark bedroom will help you regulate your natural sleep hormone, melatonin and ensure that you can rest easily. If your room is too bright due to street lights, or other disturbances, you can always try using an eye mask to block out light.
As a massage therapist I am extremely kinesthetic (ie touchy feely) the way fabrics feel are so important to me! I will treat myself to plush 1000 sheet thread count sheets and soft fabrics because I know how important it is for me to feel comfortable.
Create a Sleep Ritual
We are creatures of habit. We eat the same thing for breakfast, brush our teeth the same way, put our pants on the same way, drive the same route to work. And when we are trying to sleep, certain habits can signal that it’s time to unwind and go to dream land.
Having a routine can help you to unwind from a busy day. You can try to create good sleep habits by setting and sticking to a bed time, having a shower or bath and stretching before bed. Many of the tips in this blog can be included in your sleep routine, such as writing down your worries and meditating. It is important to stick to the same routine on weekends as well so that you can form a new helpful habit. Whatever you do, creating a routine around sleep can form a vital step to improving your quality and quantity of sleep.
With our busy lives its important to make time to stop. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Experts say that we have around 60,000 – 80,000 per day. That’s incredible! Our brain is non-stop chatting away to us, helping us to interpret our lives. But, when we are trying to sleep, it can be hard to stop the chatter. One way to do this is to meditate. Making a conscious effort to still the mind.
If you are a beginner, you can start by becoming still and focusing on your breathing. Sit still. And take a few slow deep breaths. Focus your mind on each in breath and out breath. If you get distracted by thoughts, that’s OK, just return to the breath once you realize when has happened.
If you struggle to meditate on your own there are a trillion apps that can help. Just search your app store on your smart phone and find one that suits you.
Write your worries down
For some reason it can take a weight off your mind to see your worries written in front of you. And the best thing is – there is not right or wrong way to do this. Perhaps you need to vent your spleen and get your emotions out on paper. Or maybe you have so much to do and you don’t know where to start, so you write a to do list for yourself. Whatever you do, writing is a cathartic way to express worries, fears and anxieties in such a way that makes them appear more manageable.
Worrying about something at 3am is pointless, because there is nothing you can do – everyone else is asleep. Writing down what you want to do about the worry can be helpful as it will free your mind from having to remember it. If it is written down, then you can read it in the morning after you have had a great night’s sleep.
No devices in the bedroom
Experts in sleep will tell you to remove devices such as smart phones, TVs and laptops from the bedroom. The reason is that the blue light emitted from these devices messes up our circadian rhythm (our wakefulness and sleepiness patterns) and can reduce melatonin, the hormone that is essential for sleep.
And I can already hear you say, “But my phone is my alarm, I need it in the bedroom”. Well guess what – Kmart have $10 alarm clock radios AND I am sure that if you charged your phone in another room and set your alarm tone to the loudest setting, you will be able to hear it. Plus, the act of getting up to turn the alarm off will prevent you from hitting the snooze button 100 times.
“I’m sorry if I fall asleep” is a common phrase I hear in the treatment room. Exhausted expectant mums, craving blissful slumber. Massage during pregnancy helps to ease nervous tension and helps mum to relax. As massage reduces muscular tension, you will feel more relaxed and reduce the sleep disturbances that may be caused by bodily aches and pains
A relaxed mum will be able to sleep more easily and deeply. And the proof Is in the pudding, a lot of my expectant mum’s tell me that they have had the best nights sleep the night of their massage treatment.
Build a pillow fort
Expectant mums are often overwhelmed when they see the number of pillows that I use in a massage treatment. But once they are on the table, they feel relaxed and supported and most importantly comfortable. During pregnancy, side lying is the recommended sleeping position and the following set up will help you feel relaxed and comfortable.
I recommend the use of the Denton’s pregnancy pillow to support the growing belly and reduce ligament strain in the abdomen, then place a fat but firm pillow between the knees to take pressure off the lower back, and pop finally a “cuddle” pillow between the forearms to keep the shoulders square and to reduce neck strain and carpal tunnel symptoms.
You can see a video on how to roll the “Cuddle” pillow here: https://www.facebook.com/lauracalderonemassagetherapy/videos/1072004672939531/
You don’t need to be pregnant to replicate the pillow fort, in fact, this set up will help you reduce low back, hip and shoulder pain while you sleep.
You can see a video on the table set up here: https://www.facebook.com/lauracalderonemassagetherapy/videos/1606674316144866/