Sleep is a vital component to health, and it is not uncommon for women to have trouble sleeping during pregnancy. Physical, emotional, and hormonal changes during this time create stress on the body and nervous system, which consequently may make it more difficult for women to fall asleep and sleep soundly at night.
A sufficient amount of quality sleep for women is crucial throughout their pregnancy. Studies have found links between women with poor sleeping habits during pregnancy are at higher risk for birth complications such as low birth weight and pre-term births (University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences, 2013).
An added difficulty is that many conventional sleeping aids are not able to be utilized while pregnant. Luckily, there are several natural and safe remedies that women can utilize during this time in which sleep is crucial for both mom and baby.
Vital for promoting and maintaining bone health, vitamin D also plays an important role in neuromuscular functions, immunity, and reduction of inflammation. It is estimated that up to 50% of the general population is deficient in Vitamin D (Lee et al., 2008). Research indicates that insufficient levels of Vitamin D may negatively influence a person’s sleeping habits. A positive correlation was found between those with sufficient levels of Vitamin D in their system and an increase in their sleep quality and quantity (Blumberg et al., 2014).
Vitamin D is found naturally in very few food sources; the food sources with the highest amount of Vitamin D are fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon. One of the best sources of Vitamin D is through sunlight. Our bodies are able to use the ultraviolet rays from the sunlight to synthesize its own Vitamin D, however, the average person does not receive enough daily sun light exposure to maintain adequate levels. Supplementing Vitamin D daily is often the most effective way of maintaining proper levels.
Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salts are a naturally occurring mineral, magnesium sulfate, and has several beneficial uses. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant and when there is a sufficient amount in the body, it helps to promote production of serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter. When the body is under stress, it is depleted of magnesium, resulting in a decrease in serotonin levels as well. When added to a bath, Epsom salts are absorbed through the porous openings in our skin, soothing our muscles and decreasing stress levels (D.O., 2014).
Creating a nightly routine with Epsom salt baths can aid in better and more rested sleep. It is important to use natural Epsom salts without any added perfumes or artificial coloring, as these can be irritants to sensitive skin. If you do not have a bathtub, that’s okay, a foot bath with Epsom salts will do just as much good when it comes to absorbing the magnesium and soothing your nervous system.
Aromatherapy has been shown to have many beneficial physical, mental, and emotional effects to those who utilize it. Difficulty in falling asleep and sleeping soundly can often be linked to a nervous system under stress. If the nervous system is not able to relax, then the body and mind will not be able to relax either.
Studies have shown that the scent of lavender oil before bedtime, calms the body’s nervous system and puts it in a parasympathetic state (Sayorwan et al., 2012). The parasympathetic nervous system is commonly referred to the “rest and digest” nervous system. When in this state the body’s heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases, and an environment of relaxation is created for the body.
Lee, J. H., MD, O’Keefe, J. H., MD, Bell, D., MD, Hensrud, D. D., MD, & Holick, M. F., MD, PhD. (2008 December 9). Vitamin D Deficiency : An Important, Common, and Easily Treatable Cardiovascular Risk Factor? Retrieved January 4, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109708031756.
Blumberg, M. S., PhD, Karlsson, K. E., PhD, & Seelke, A. M., MS. (2007). SLEEP – Vitamin D and Actigraphic Sleep Outcomes in Older Community-Dwelling Men: The MrOS Sleep Study. Retrieved January 04, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC428860
O. (2014, October 14). How Epsom Salt may help you (and your kids) sleep better. Retrieved January 04, 2017, from https://sleepsense.net/epsom-salt-may-help-kids-sleep-better
Sayorwan, W., MPham, Siripornpanich, V., MD, Piriyapanyaporn, T., BSc, Kotchabhakdi, N., PhD, Hongratanaworakit, T., & Ruangrungsi, N., PhD. (2012). The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brian Electrical Activity. Retrieved January 04, 2017, from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Tapanee_Hongratanworakit/publication/ 225051306_The_Effects_of_Lavender_Oil_Inhalation_on_Emotional_States_Autonomic_Nervous _System_and_Brain_Electrical_Activity/links/0fcfd51257861db827000000.pdf.
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences. (2013, July 17). Poor sleep in pregnancy can disrupt the immune system and cause birth-related complications. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 04, 2017, from www.sciencedaily.com/release/2013/07/130717164725.htm