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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

got pregnant mush brain? sleep it off, if you can.

Yesterday I coached clients, launched a new blog, wrote two blogs posts and announced to the world I'm with child at age 40. I was focused, and had a good night's rest! Today... not so much. Last night I couldn't fall asleep to save my life.  Now, I'm staring at my computer, trying to remember why I'm sitting here in the first place, plus I can hardly keep my eyes open. So, excuse me while I take a nap...

AND I'm back.

Kate Hudson made news yesterday by saying "pregnant mush brain" is like being stoned. I love her candor. I've been saying the same for 6 months - I've zero motivation, a serious case of the munchies, and all I want to do is play video games (if Words with Friends on my iPad counts).

My "momnesia" fog hit me by surprise this go 'round.  During my first pregnancy I felt sharp, energetic and worked full time as an editor, juggling deadlines, details and travel. Pregnancy brain was mere myth. But this time I've driven to the wrong airport, space out more often than I'd like to admit, and steal two naps a day if I can get it. But it's not so much that I'm forgetful as it is a total mental and physical exhaustion.

Is pregnancy brain for real? Though the question has been asked many times before, it's a hard problem to study. (If you're aware of a good study on pregnancy and cognition, let me know!). The bottom line based on small studies is that when pregnant women are put to task in the lab, their memory is mostly fine. There might be some minor lapses here or there in the third trimester, but no biggie.

Then what's going on if we can't entirely pin our changing hormones for messin' with our brains?  Well, there's no denying I need a TON more sleep while pregnant, but sleep is one of the harder things to do. I get up 2 times a night to pee, and my growing midsection makes sleeping far less comfortable than I need it to be to have a restful night's sleep. And if I don't sleep well at night, I can't sleep in to make up for it.  If it's not work getting me up in the morning, it's the 6-7am wake-up "Mom!" call. As my witty sister-in-law recently said, "The concept of sleep seems so easy until you try and put it into action."

When I AM sleeping well, my days and brains operate more smoothly. Sleep seems to be the answer for much of our cognitive lapses these days, pregnant or not.  Thus, I'm  making a promise. I'll be in bed, ready to sleep by 10pm during the week, starting tonight. I'm going to try and do this for the rest of my pregnancy. If you know me and my night owl self, this is a big promise for me to make, but a well-needed one.

Now, how's your quality of sleep when you're stressed about something? Pretty crappy, right? Yeah, me too. While science doesn't have much to say about pregnancy brain, it has a lot more to say about the risks of stress during pregnancy.  In fact, there's a lot more to say about stress from the scientific and spiritual perspectives.  I'm keen to look further at stress and pregnancy in the near future here.

Clearly, it's a good idea to pay attention to what might be making things harder for us than they need be.  These are the things I already do: write things down, keep a calendar with alerts, have a set place for stuff like keys, and take a nap when I can.  Now I'm adding: leave myself plenty of time to get where I need to go, and wind down at night so I can get to bed by 10pm. I'll let you know how it goes. Your advice is welcome too!

Now, if it weren't for my calendar alerts, I would have completely forgotten why I first sat down at my computer to begin with this morning. Time to birthday gift browse...

1 comment:

  1. [...] huge effects on our well-being and susceptibility. For example, I’ve been keeping my promise made a few weeks ago to be in bed by 10pm, and I’m finding my ability to regulate stress the next day is greatly [...]