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Did You Know?
Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime.
The best part of waking up - a good night's sleep
Motherhood and Sleep

Sleep, sleep and sleep are the three greatest challenges to mothers of multiples. The fun begins when Mom has trouble getting enough sleep each night during the last trimester of pregnancy. (And most don't know that growth hormone is released only at night, so the fetus can't grow sufficiently unless Mom is sleeping).

After the birth, an exhausted new mother faces the following daily challenges:

  • Disrupted circadian rhythms due to being up day and night make Mom feel perpetually jet-lagged
  • Shifting levels of hormones also disrupt sleep patterns during the post-partum period
  • The double demands of twins create physical exhaustion and a need to sleep while also lessening the opportunity.

Dr. Carol Ash is an adult and pediatric board-certified sleep medicine physician. (And a mom.) Dr. Ash has the following tips to help mothers of multiples cope during the difficult first months:

  • Resist turning day into night. Keep as regular a sleep schedule as possible. If you must nap during the day, sleep for no longer than 40 minutes. After that, your body will go into deeper phases of sleep and you will awaken feeling groggy rather than refreshed.
  • Get natural sunlight into your eyes first thing in the morning. Natural light sets the "clock" in the brain, helping us know where we are in a 24-hour day. Light entering the eye is also the body's signal for the release of key hormones, so make sure you are up and in daylight each morning.
  • Sleep isn't a luxury. It's easier for the human body to go without food or water than without sleep. Just 18 hours of sleeplessness is the equivalent of an illegal level of alcohol in the blood in terms of functioning. Protect and preserve your sleep and you'll feel better and function better, too. Many women forgo sleep to do a few more loads of laundry or clean the kitchen. Put yourself first.
  • When you do get a chance to sleep at night, keep the room as dark as possible: turn clocks with illuminated faces toward the wall so they don't shine into your eyes, draw the curtains to block out street lights.
  • Hormonal changes that occur in the postpartum period can affect body temperature and appetite. Make sure that your room is a comfortable temperature, a bit cooler is actually better. Even if your schedule is irregular, don't eat after about 7 p.m. Sleeping is always more difficult on a full stomach.
  • Finally, eat small meals during the day to keep yourself going, and choose healthy foods that promote sleep: foods containing the protein tryptophan. These include turkey, yogurt and cheese.