You are a body builder.
Yes, you, my dear.
No, I haven’t lost my noodles (not yet!); if you’ve grown a baby inside of you then you are, in the most literal sense of the word, a body builder.
And body building is tough work, ladies. It takes energy, kochos, saps your strength and makes you… exhausted.
On top of that, by the time you get toward the end of your pregnancy you’re shlepping around an extra couple dozen pounds day in and day out, and, of course, also waking up in the middle of the night to turn yourself over and/or use the bathroom.
In short: pregnancy is exhausting.
And, like it or not, your sleep need in pregnancy is a whole lot higher than your sleep need as a non-body-building person, and your awake time limit may be shorter, too.
So what if I told you that with just 30 minutes a day - just 30 minutes! - you could transform your pregnancy.
A shorter awake time limit coupled with a greater sleep need means… it’s Mommy’s time for a nap!
(And, I will note: this is NOT just for pregnant mothers! If you’re sleep deprived and need a boost during the day, this is the thing for you, too, regardless of how old your youngest is and whether or not you’re pregnant!)
So what you’re doing for 30 minutes is laying down in a dark quiet room and going to sleep. Sound like a plan?
Why 30 minutes, you ask?
Well, like most things, there is a science behind the 30 minute mark. Your average adult sleep cycle lasts about 75 minutes (or one hour and 15 minutes); your average well-rested person will take approximately 12 (or between 10 and 15) minutes to fall asleep.
That means that if you want to get a good, geshmak, full-sleep-cycle nap, you want to block out about 1.5 hours for you to sleep.
If you have that time - amazing. I won’t pretend not to be jealous of you.
But if you don’t have that time - fear not. I hear ya, and a catnap can help you boost your energy, cut your day in half and tide you over until bedtime.
Giving yourself 30 minutes to sleep gives you about 15 minutes to fall asleep and then about 15 minutes of sleep. That’ll mean that you’re getting into stages 1 and 2 of sleep - lighter sleep.
That’s a good thing.
Because once you get into the deeper sleeps - stages 3 and 4 - it’ll be a lot harder for you to wake up and, once you do, you’ll feel groggy and out of sorts for a while.
So the ideal length of time for you to block out for a nap is either a half an hour, or an hour and a half. Anything in between, and you’re likely to wake feeling ichier than you did before you went to sleep.
Ok great, so you’ve got your 30 minute time blog and you’re ready to nap. Now what?
Now think of what you do for your baby for him to nap well.
Get yourself into comfortable clothing so that you can sleep well. Make your room niiiiice and dark and cool, too. Have a mini routine or a couple minutes of reading to let yourself wind down.
And most importantly: DON’T STRESS. If you get stressed about falling asleep, you’ll be less likely to fall asleep (I know, it’s a vicious cycle).
Allow your body and brain to relax, let yourself get comfortable and drift off.
If you’re a coffee drinker, sometimes drinking coffee right before your nap can be helpful, too -- it takes about 30 minutes for the caffeine to get into your bloodstream, so if you down that right before your nap, it’ll help you jumpstart once you wake up.
Also be sure that you’re not napping in the evening or too close to the time that you’ll be in bed for the night - you want this nap to be in addition to the nighttime sleep, not instead of it!
And, while we’re talking about that: having an early bedtime can also help with the tiredness.
Maybe you work all day, or, for whatever reason, can’t carve out those 30 minute on a daily basis. Then what?
First, remember that it’s not all or nothing. Just because you can’t nap every day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t nap the days you can. So maybe you can nap weekends. Or maybe just Shabbos. Or maybe once a week you can send all the kids out to a friend for a nap. Brainstorm with your husband, sister or a friend to figure out a way that you can get that nap in at least some of the time.
On those days that a nap just ain’t happening, how about some quiet time? Yes, for you. Simply blocking off stimulation for a bit, even if it’s not a full-out nap can help give your brain a little boost. You can lay in bed without actually falling asleep, or even just sit and close your eyes for a few minutes - every little bit counts!
And, of course, this doesn’t only apply during pregnancy! If, for whatever reason, you’re not getting the sleep you need at night, you should definitely be doing your best to make up for it during the day.
I’d love to hear from you what YOU’re going to be implementing in your own life -- but now, I’m going to lay down for a nap.