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Expecting? Improve Sleep for Your Health and Baby’s, Too

Expecting? Improve Sleep for Your Health and Baby’s, Too

Perhaps no worker is more notoriously sleep deprived than a hospital staff resident. In one scene in Grey’s Anatomy, Meredith confesses “I fell asleep at a restaurant, at a table, while I was on a date.” And 40 years ago, Dr. Mike fell asleep—face down into dessert—while at his boss’s dinner party. Can you wipe cream pie off your face gracefully?

We all need sleep and that’s especially true for pregnant women. A study looked at records for almost three million births and found women with insomnia were 30 percent more likely to have a preterm birth (before 37 weeks), while five percent delivered before 34 weeks. In addition, 40 percent of women with sleep apnea delivered preterm.

Researchers think sleeplessness leads to elevated inflammation, which over time can trigger early delivery. Preterm infants can have breathing, heart, gastro and brain problems, as well as chronic health and behavioral/cognitive issues.

So if you’re pregnant or planning to be and have sleep issues, talk to your doctor and

  • Shoot for 30 minutes moderate exercise daily—with doc’s approval.
  • Make the bedroom cool and comfortable.
  • Eat ever-smaller meals as the day goes on. And make sure to get two nutrients associated with better sleep: magnesium, in leafy greens; and tryptophan (an amino acid that converts into the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin) in egg whites, soybeans, chicken and pumpkin seeds.
  • No midnight snacking.
  • Turn off electronics 30 minutes before bed.
  • Practice 10 minutes of mindful meditation before sleep.