The majority of pregnant women reports about lasting dreaming-experiences. Often, questions on their meaning and possible sense arise. With new research methods science, too, is striving for lifting the secret of the nocturnal pictures.
Since Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung at the latest, scientists have a yet unanswered question: Why are we actually dreaming?
In psychoanalysis, dreams and their interpretation have had a long tradition. Here, it is assumed that dreams are repressed wishful thinking which enter consciousness in an encrypted manner. Newer approaches waive an interpretation and investigate the phenomenon of dreaming directly at a sleep laboratory or with questionnaires and dream diaries. The results reveal for example, that women remember dreams more often than men, and that dreams are connected with experiences made in a wake state. On the other hand, dreams might also influence everyday life: be it a creative idea or a clue for solving a life crisis. Dream experiences of pregnant women are especially interesting. Following an extract from an interview of sleep psychologist Prof. Dr. Amann-Jennson with the journal “Leben & Erziehen” (Living and Educating) regarding this special topic.
Why is the sleep of pregnant women often worse?
During pregnancy, many women complain about sleeping less and also worse. Due to different reasons, the nightly recovery often is hard to achieve. The temporal shift of phases of rest and sleep is one main reason: many pregnant women are sleepy during the day and tend to short phases of sleep. This is caused by an increased release of the hormone progesterone, a female hormone that regulates the rhythm of reproduction. The unaccustomed impact of progesterone might turn a usual working day into a big challenge.
Even if this hormone is causing tiredness and sleepiness during the day, the nightly sleep still might be disturbed. This leads to even more fatigue the following day. Here, one of the few things to do is to rest as often as possible, even if sleeping is impossible. Therefore, expecting mothers have to get used to the fact that time spent in bed does not equal time slept.
In addition to that, additional difficulties like weight gain and the fact that sleeping in the preferred sleeping position is no longer possible arise as pregnancy progresses. The first three months of a pregnancy are perfect for getting used to sleeping on the left side. This sleeping position improves the supply of the uterus and fetus with blood and nutrients. Also, it supports the kidneys with an easier clearance of metabolic products. The more you get used to this sleeping position the better you are going to sleep when the belly has grown.
The mattress- and sleeping-system is playing an important role for pregnant women. In spite of the changed body shape it should work anatomically-orthopedically – or back pains are predestined. The same applies for an appropriate pillow as well as a warm and – since expecting mothers tend to sweat easily – dry bedding climate.
Increased urge to urinate, cramps, back pain, indigestion, nocturnal nausea, heartburn, breathlessness, allergies, palpitations, circulatory problems, blood pressure too high or too low up to brooding and sorrows are possible further sleep disturber. Often, dreams and nightmares are consequences of such brooding and worries concerning pregnancy and the yet unborn child.
Regularly, the usual sleep-interfering factors like light, noise, and electromagnetic pollution have a pronounced effect on pregnant women.
What might be the reason for that?
During pregnancy, the female body rapidly changes in many different ways. The release of hormones increases, the organs intensify their work and adjust to supply and growth of the child. Pregnancy also is a preparation to being mother, to the physical and mental complications and extra loads of motherhood. Because, on an average, young mothers gather a sleep debt of up to 700 hours per year! This is a huge mental and physical strain. So, smaller and bigger complaints during pregnancy might be part of adaption of being mother. Here, dreams mainly help to deal with mental stress.
Is there a spiritual aspect as well?
Basically, women are pregnant with heart and soul. Meaning, soul and spirit play a certain role in any life situation. The human being is and remains a unit consisting of body, mind and soul. Especially pregnancy is a very exciting phase in the life of a woman. Therefore, feelings play a certain role. And, pregnancy has a huge spiritual meaning. Numerous mothers-to-be think about stuff like: “When exactly does the life of my child begin? Does it already have a soul?” A mother early starts communication with the child. Most of the time, even before they can feel the tiny feet kicking against the abdominal wall. And it seems, that this is an important part of the development of a child.
The physical strains of a pregnancy always have an effect on the mother as well as on the child. The prenatal relationship of mother and child is important in psycho-immunology as well. Psycho-immunology deals with the understanding of the links between our psyche and our immune-system.