When you become a mom, something both awful and incredible happens. Your sleep is interrupted, and the mere grunt of your baby wakes you from across the house (no monitor needed). If you’re a mom, you might agree that we have an internal sense of when their baby is about to wake up or has made the slightest, inaudible peep of a noise snapping your eyes wide at 2:53 AM.
Whether or not you strongly relate to the above, as a mom, your sleep has changed.
Sleep is likely to become fewer hours and less restorative.
Luckily, you can take action to help catch more quality ZZZ’s even if you’re nighttime snoozes are limited between feedings, nightmares, sickness, or..heck..a full moon.
This is the kind-of-a-trendy catchphrase over the past decade or so as sleep specialists encourage us to get more hours between the sheets (perhaps more of this pun is needed as well) in addition to setting up our room and bedtime routine to enhance our extended siesta experience.
I’ve heard and read articles by sleep specialists, some of which insist on 8+ hours per night for optimal functionality while others insist that each person’s sleep needs are individual, with some needing four while others need 10. Can you even remember the last time you slept TEN hours? Look, you’re an adult. You know how you feel after you’ve slept four hours, six hours, 12 hours. So why don’t we look at other sleep hygiene tips to help you get the restorative sleep you need, no matter how many hours that ends up being.
We all know why we need sleep, right? More energy assists metabolic function restores mental acuity (and patience with children), revitalizes muscles, strengthens your immune system. How do we get the kind of sleep that gives us all that?
Across various resources, here is what I’ve found to be the most sleep consistent advice.
- Dependability and Persistence: This applies to yourself. Depend and rely on yourself to set up a relaxing and consistent bedtime routine. Go to bed within the same 30 minutes each night and go through all the same motions. Unless you’re just spent, going to bed early rarely works as your internal clock isn’t ready yet. Be persistent in your efforts, especially if you don’t currently have a bedtime routine, as habits take time to form.
- Exercise: A brisk walk or a 5k, it makes no difference what type of activity you choose to partake in, as long as you do it. Any kind of physical exertion during the day will help you sleep better at night. Not only will your muscles be ready for a rest, but your brain will also be, as well. Remember my between the sheets pun? That counts as exercise, too.
- Food: Are you a late-night snacker? While some may argue that late-night snacking of any kind runs the risk of keeping you awake, there are some major culprits you will want to avoid before bedtime. Anything that may cause you indigestion will not bode well. Zzz’s and heartburn and/or gas have never made good bedfellows. Medications also fall under this category. These can impact how you feel and how your body functions throughout the day.
- Naps: We all wish we could take naps like our babies, right? I know I do. I also know that when I choose to nap, I can plan on staying up 1-2 hours later than I usually do, offsetting my entire next day. I might feel tired after lunch. We all do, it’s literally scientifically proven. At the same time, that does not necessarily mean I need a nap. Some people do some people don’t.
- Avoid Activities: Other than sleep or sex, you shouldn’t be doing anything else in your bed. I personally enjoy reading in bed, but I don’t find this interferes with my sleep. Here it comes, that thing you don’t want to hear but already know. TURN OFF THE TV AND YOUR PHONE. I’m sorry, but it’s just true. Watching TV or scrolling through Instagram just are.not.conducive to sleeping. In fact, you should avoid anything with a screen a solid 30 minutes before shutting your eyelids.
These are the big ones, folks. There are a myriad of other tips, such as meditation, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, reduce evening fluid intake, avoiding bed if you’re not tired, etc. One I can personally vouch for is painting your room a nice, dark, calming color.
As parents, we are all tired. It’s up to you to put a plan in place to ensure you are as rested and reliable the next day as you want to be for yourself and for your children.