Surviving Sleep Deprivation: How to Manage the "Mama-Haze."

"The new sleep mandate is compelling, but making it happen can be a nightmare."

In October, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a recommendation stating that babies should sleep in their parents' rooms for the first 6 months of life.  The guideline came as a result of research demonstrating that doing so can reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.) While this sleep-mandate may be compelling, making it happen can be a nightmare for mamas.  This month's post offers 3 tried and tested tips that can help moms (and dads) to catch a few extra winks.  

Sleep More= Sweat More.

A study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine 1 revealed that a home-based, individual aerobic exercise program can reduce fatigue, both physical and mental, in women with postpartum depression.  A second study revealed that a group of postnatal women who practiced in-home Pilates, a method of exercise designed to enhance strength, flexibility, posture and awareness, were found to have lower levels of physical and mental fatigue than their non-practicing peers.2  Ready to try a gentle in-home Pilates routine?  Check out this one from Fitness Blender .

Wanna Sleep?  Apply the Pressure

Licensed acupuncturist and owner of Four Flower Wellness in Chicago, Ashley Flores speaks to the restorative potential of acupressure for new mothers.   This centuries-old technique works similarly to acupuncture, but instead of using needles, the treatment is administered with the fingers.  Flores suggests that applying acupressure to the Pericardium 5,6 and 7 points can be especially useful before going to sleep, as a means of moving away from wakefulness and toward rest.3  
         How to do it:  The Pericardium 5, 6, and 7 points are found on the inside of the wrist.  Look at the inside of the wrist and locate the 2 tendons in the center.  (If they are not visible at first, flex the wrist back and forth until they are either seen or felt with the index finger.)  Take the thumb of the opposite hand and place it 2 thumb widths up from the wrist crease towards the elbow.  Place the thumb parallel to the wrist and begin to massage in a circular motion.  Gentle pressure should be applied; enough to feel a bit of an ache on the spot but not pain.  It does not matter which wrist is chosen first but do massage both sides for about 30 seconds to a minute, each. 

Eat Your Way to a Good Sleep

The foods a new mom opts for can make a difference in helping cope with a chronic case of  depleted " Zzzzs."  Nutritional Consultant Patricia Daly, BA, DipHE, NT states that one of the best ways to stave off physical and emotional fatigue nutritionally is to keep blood sugar levels even throughout the day.4  Complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice are preferable to their white counterparts, which can lead to a rapid spike and drop in pressure.   A tall glass of water along with those carbs is also a good idea.  Water can keep the bodily systems running smoothly and reduce the risk of constipation—a common culprit of fatigue.  

Sources:

1 Dritsa, M., Da Costa, D., Dupuis, G., Lowensteyn, I., Khalifé, S. (2008).  Effects of a home-based exercise intervention on fatigue in postpartum depressed women: results of a randomized controlled trial.  Annals Of Behavioral Medicine: A Publication Of The Society Of Behavioral Medicine, 35(2), 179-87.  doi: 10.1007/s12160-008-9020-4
 
2 Ashrafinia, F., Mirmohammadali, M., Rajabi, H., Kazemnejad, A., Haghighi, K.S., Amelvalizadeh, M. (2015).  Effect of Pilates exercises on postpartum maternal fatigue.  Singapore Medical Journal, 56(3), 169-73.  doi: 10.11622/smedj.2015042


3 Ashley Flores, LAc.  Skype interview, February 11, 2016.

4 Patricia Daly BA, DipHE, NT  Email interviews June 9-September 27, 2016.


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