As any parent out there can guess – I don’t get much sleep with an infant in the house. The sad truth, however, is that I never really got a lot of sleep anyway. Somewhere around my 2nd year in college I began a morning sugar-coffee routine that became the only thing that made me functional in the morning. It’s a state of mind we all know too well, a painful, bone-deep weariness that makes the thought of facing the day seem unbearable. So we self medicate with some coffee (don’t forget to add chocolate for me please!), and we put on our big-girl-pants and do it all anyway. For me, the 8 hours I used to get before baby didn’t feel any better than the 3 hours of new mommyhood.
Turns out, being well rested is not necessarily based solely on how long you sleep but also how well you sleep. There are different phases of sleep, the deepest being REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The amount of REM sleep you get correlates to how rested you feel waking up. A lot of us likely aren’t getting enough REM sleep (particularly with a screaming baby and that new-mom hyper awareness) and that can make us wake up sleepy.
Thankfully, there are a great deal of things that you can do in order to both fall asleep faster and to get a better night’s sleep and I am going to share a few with you. Before you know it, you will be
sleeping like a baby. Sleeping like a teenager. We all know babies don’t sleep!
1. Wind Down
A lot of people, myself included, have trouble falling asleep when their head hits the pillow. You might find you can’t settle down to sleep because your mind is running 100mph. This is really not unexpected considering everything we juggle in our brains all day long, but it can be remedied. Take an hour before you plan to go to bed and just relax, allow yourself to wind down and get ready for bed. Bonus points if you relax without looking at a screen. Still racing? Try journaling to get all of your important thoughts out of your head.
2. Sleep in The Dark
You might think that your room is dark enough, but any type of light in your room can distract your sleep through the night without you even realizing it. It could be obvious like sleeping with the TV on or something you never noticed like a bright light from an alarm clock. Find a way to block these things out and you will be pleasantly surprised how much better you sleep.
3. Avoid Too Many Liquids Before Bed
If there is one tip I learned while pregnant, its this. Staying hydrated is generally great for your health – but try and wrap up your liquid intake a couple of hours before bed. If you drink a big amount right before bed chances are you will have to wake up in the middle of the night and use the restroom. Any form of waking up while you are asleep will put a break in your REM sleep and you will not feel quite as rested as if you slept soundly throughout the night.
4. Keep Your Room Cool
Temperature can have a huge affect on how you sleep. You might have noticed that you sleep deeper when its cold in your room, and It has been proven that we sleep better in cooler temperatures. You probably don’t want to make your room freezing, but the last thing you do want is to be hot and sweaty while you sleep. I recommend getting a small fan to use while you sleep and keep the air flowing and the room at a comfortable temperature. A bonus is that a lot people find the sound of the fan soothing as well.
5. Keep Pets and Kids Off the Bed
My Nay-Nays Kitty loves me. We don’t get a lot of one-on-one time during the day, but at night he sleeps by my pillow. As parents to little ones and furry ones, sometimes we like to let them sleep with us but this can (pretty obviously) hinder your sleep. Even if they aren’t stepping on our heads (cat) or flopping into our chests (kid), just the subconscious awareness of these extra people or animals can disturb your sleeping pattern. Although it may be hard, try putting the kids in their own bed and keeping your bed to yourself. See how much better your sleep gets.
6. Avoid Napping Throughout the Day
It is so tempting. The baby is fussy so we cuddle on the couch, he’s sleeping, and the house is quiet. Why not close my eyes and catch a few Zs? I love a good afternoon nap as much as the next person but they can really mess with your nighttime sleeping. Think of it like starting the dishwasher and then opening it half way through the cycle. Starting a sleep cycle and then ending it abruptly the way a nap does can not only leave you feeling worse, but when you start the cycle again, you have to deal with the aftermath of your earlier crap-nap.
7. Avoid Heavy Foods Before Bed
Eating gives our bodies energy. So where is the energy from that bowl of ice cream going 25 minutes before you go to bed? Fat storing and health implications aside, digestion can keep you up at night. Try to eat a regular meal at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed. Going to bed with a full belly can keep you up and make it really difficult to fall asleep.
Studies have shown that exercising during the day can help you to rest better at night. Our bodies are meant for moving, and for many of us, we don’t do that enough. Using your muscles and getting your heart rate up throughout the day helps to relax your body and get it prepared for a proper night’s sleep. If you are having trouble sleeping, try exercising every day, even if it just for half an hour. You’ll likely feel better in general, and you might find yourself sleeping much better. (Bonus: Exercising right when you wake up will give you that energy boost you typically get from coffee- two birds, one stone my friends!!)
There you have it, 8 simple and easy adjustments that will help you to sleep better. Did any surprise you? Are there any that you already do? Sweet Dreams everyone!!