As moms struggling with kids who don’t want to sleep, one of the top pieces of advice all parents hear is related to starting a bedtime routine. Several articles riddle the internet telling parents which bedtime routine works best and offering advice on how to develop the right bedtime routine for kids.
However, another common correlation exists between kids and the amount of sleep mothers themselves are getting. Several studies suggest mothers don’t get enough sleep (tell us something we don’t know), and on top of that, even when moms have the chance, they’re the ones struggling to fall asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost two thirds of women (a large portion of them moms) have insomnia, or in other words, difficulty sleeping or falling asleep.
So even when moms surpass the newborn, up all night, sleep deprivation stage of parenting, they’re often still struggling to get a decent amount of sleep or a good night’s rest in general. And whether or not we’re giving our kids a bath every night before bedtime has nothing to do with it. It’s actually pretty surprising some of the simple, every day things that may be contributing to not sleeping well–things like technology, eating habits and more.
In order to combat nighttime restlessness, here a few tips that truly help moms fall asleep and sleep well, along with a bedtime routine to assist:
Stop relying on caffeine. I know, I know, that’s the one we all roll our eyes at, and the last tip you wanted to hear, especially right out of the gate. I’m telling you, though, as a post cup-of-coffee-every-morning gal, this is where I noticed the biggest change … and fast. I finally gave in and gave up caffeine for a number of reasons, but the area where I noticed the largest improvement–within a day or two–was how early I got tired at night and how quickly I fell asleep. Prior to giving up caffeine, I would stay awake until midnight, 1am, 2am or even 3am, easily, simply because I just wasn’t tired. After giving up caffeine, I could barely keep my eyes open at 10pm. I understand that’s not always ideal, and it isn’t that drastic forever. Having been off caffeine for a while now, it’s much easier to stay awake if I need to. And by no means will I ever give up coffee, but I am able to enjoy decaf coffee, which is a great compromise and totally worth it. I will forewarn you that giving up caffeine, at first, can be difficult, as I had headaches for a few days and was more tired than usual throughout the day. Again, though, it’s worth getting over the hump.
Convert half your body weight to ounces in water and drink it. Every single day. Much of my difficulty sleeping could also be directly related to anxiety and general unhealthiness. A whole slew of factors can contribute to anxiety, but one of the simplest fixes is a healthier diet. The thing we hear most in the health industry from doctors, practitioners, dietitians, etc. is “drink more water,” and that’s because no one takes it seriously. It’s an insanely easy and doable fix, and I can’t even begin to tell you how clean and better your body feels when you start actually doing it every day. I noticed my anxiety lifted a substantial amount and my body was processing better in general when I started drinking the right amount of water. With this came more relaxation and ease of sleep at night.
Cut back on alcohol. Alcohol induced sleep is not good sleep. Relying on a few glasses of wine every night to fall asleep is actually making your rest worse. For a while when I started to feel anxious or couldn’t fall asleep, I felt like the only way I could get to sleep was to drink a couple glasses of wine. Although it initially helped me fall asleep, I noticed, after a while, that I would start waking up in the middle of the night. Thus, I’d just shifted my problem from not being able to fall asleep to not being able to stay asleep. When I cut back on drinking and stopped relying on alcohol to fall asleep, I slowly but surely noticed a difference in the type of sleep I was getting and how rested I felt in the morning.
Use natural aids. Things like lavender and chamomile are proven to be relaxing and have the ability to help with sleep. A simple way to utilize scents is to grab some lavender essential oil or a lavender candle and fill up your bedroom with the scent before you head to bed. Often making a warm cup of chamomile–or any caffeine free–tea is enough to push me over the edge (after all the other tips are being utilized) on a restless night. Or another great natural aid you can try is melatonin. Although I personally wouldn’t recommend buying the manufactured pill form, you can easily add more melatonin into your diet by eating cherries and bananas.
Don’t multitask in bed. The bed should be for sleeping. If you’re working on your laptop in bed or even watching a ton of tv from bed, your body begins to associate your bed with those other, busy activities. After a while, you subconsciously begin to register other things besides sleep with your bed/bedroom, and it can affect your ability to rest in that space. Make your bedroom a sanctuary. Try to use it primarily for rest and relaxation. When your mind realizes that each time you enter your bedroom it’s to relax or sleep, it eventually becomes your body’s reaction to automatically wind down when you head to bed.
Do away with electronics an hour before bedtime. This one is hard for everyone, myself included. I like to pin myself into a deep sleep just as much as the next person, but study after study after study show electronics have a major negative effect on sleep. I think one of the best ways to compromise and give yourself a solid buffer to desensitize from electronics and their light is to set a time to unplug, at least one hour before bed. Charge your phone across the room (screen down), turn off the t.v., shutdown your laptop and reach for a real book instead of the iPad. If you still feel like you’re just not ready to go to sleep, reading a book is actually a great way to keep your mind active and make you sleepy without having to reach for your phone and scroll Facebook.
Mom’s Bedtime Routine
Creating a bedtime routine may sound cliché, but it really is a simple and beneficial way to let your body know it’s time to start winding down. On top of a few quick tips and easy changes, a routine can keep those sleep aids working for you every night. Your routine doesn’t have to be anything intricate or lengthy; it can be as simple as making a cup of tea, turning off the lights around the house and heading to bed. It doesn’t even mean your kids have to have a routine. I don’t even start my bedtime routine until my kids are already in bed. Personally, I put my phone on the charger, do a tidy-up session around the house, check the locks and lights, make a cup of tea, do some light reading and head to bed. Instead of putting my phone away and reading, I would flip on the t.v. and scroll my phone until I fell asleep. Yes, I would still fall asleep eventually, but I just didn’t feel like those things were good for me or a good use of my time. I’ve also read several articles about keeping electronics away during bedtime for health and sleep pattern reasons. Although, it was the hardest to implement, I truly do feel better about my routine and sleep in general.
What will you include in your bedtime routine?