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10 Strategies for Moms to Get Dramatically Better Sleep
Sleep impacts every area of ours lives, yet few people truly make it a genuine priority. Most moms I know are not getting quality sleep. Why? You are balancing children, a home, endless responsibilities and maybe even a job! And what comes last? Your needs.
But sleep deprivation is literally killing people through the associated health problems that come with it. And like the oxygen masks on an airplane, if you want to help other people (your kids) you need to make sure your mask is on.
Simply put: You need better sleep.
Duh, you say. All moms want more sleep. And we make it a contest with other moms to compare who is the most sleep deprived. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, motherhood may affect our sleep. But are you making it an actual priority? Are you making intentional choices to improve your sleep? Making just a few changes can dramatically increase the quality of your sleep–and your life.
Moms aren’t wired for great sleep.
Like many people, my sleep quality went down the tubes when I became a mom. Even when I wasn’t up with the baby, I would be laying on my bed entirely exhausted, but unable to sleep. I would hear phantom cries constantly. Knowing that any moment, my child might need me made it soooo hard to actually relax and sleep well. Even when my baby slept through the night, my sleep quality was still pretty crummy.
Like Batman perched on a building waiting to fight crime, as a mom you are poised 24/7 to deal with the tears, stomach aches, nose bleeds, bad dreams, or whatever comes with having children. Even if during the day a miracle occurs and you have time to take a nap, you have a really hard time relaxing enough to fall asleep.
Having to wake up to feed a baby is an obvious and unavoidable sleep disruption. But even with the sleep deprivation that comes with a newborn, these tips will still be incredibly helpful in improving the sleep you are getting.
Benefits of Quality Sleep For Moms
There are endless benefits to improving your sleep quality. You are also more likely to have a healthy weight and have more energy. I can tell you that losing weight is much easier when you are getting enough sleep. Your body will function better, your hormones are more likely to be regulated. You’ll basically have much better overall health. Research shows that your kids may even sleep better.
8 Strategies for Moms to Get Dramatically Better Sleep
1) Schedule enough sleep every night
Adults needs no fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night. While some will proclaim that you can function perfectly well off something like 4 hours of sleep a night, it is complete baloney. Sleep experts are adamant that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Failure to get enough sleep can be disasterous. For example, chronic sleep deprivation in the US Navy has resulted in increased deadly crashes.
And I know that this is so hard for us moms. You’ve put the kids to bed and after a long day you finally have a few seconds to yourself. You want to catch up on your show or spend time with your spouse. You’re completely exhausted, but you’re not ready to call it a day yet.
Or you wake up with a baby several times a night.
Whatever the case, figure out when you need to go to sleep at night to make sure that you are getting enough sleep. For me, this means that once my children are in bed, I start my relaxing nighttime routine.
2) Avoid screen a few hours before bedtime
Screen are everywhere. In our digital age, this takes serious planning and willpower to make this happen. But you can do it. The research is pretty convincing: Screens are destroying your sleep.
Have a screen cut off time at least 2 hours before you plan to go to sleep. If you can, keep your phone and other screen out of your room entirely.
I’ll admit, this one was a struggle for me at first. My husband and I used to have this nightly ritual of watching an episode (or five) of Forensic Files. It was our time to spend together and, let’s face it, it is an addicting show. Just hearing the cheesy opening music gets me so excited. But is wasn’t great for my sleep.
Simply not looking at computer, TV, or phone screens in the couple hours before bedtime will probably have a huge impact on your sleep quality.
3) Stop eating a couple hours before bedtime
Eating heavy foods before bed will sabotage your sleep. Think about the last time you tried to fall asleep with an overly full belly. You probably had a hard time getting comfortable.
Personally, going to sleep on a slightly empty stomach (3 or so hours after eating) is best for my sleep quality.
4) Stop caffeine after mid-afternoon
This one is pretty obvious. Caffeine is a stimulant and it will make it hard to fall alseep. If you rely heavily on caffeine to get through your day, then your body is literally begging you to make sleep a priority. Better sleep will reduce your dependence on caffeine. Stop the caffeine after the afternoon and then get to bed early!
5) Make your bedroom a sanctuary
Do you find your bedroom relaxing? Is it a reprieve from stress? If not, making some changes will drastically change your sleep and even your mood. You can invite amazing sleep into your bedroom by creating a bedroom sanctuary (check out my post here).This means eliminating distractions, lights, screens, mess–whatever will make it hard to shut off your brain and keep quality sleep at bay.
Research shows that exercise significantly helps people to sleep better. If you aren’t a regular exerciser, it’s best to start out easy. Vigorous exercise might zap you of your energy during the day. For ideas on how to fit in exercise, check out my post 6 Gym-Free Ways For Busy Moms to Fit in a Quick Workout.
Do you have trouble relaxing and shutting off your brain? Even if you’re exhausted, is is a struggle to quiet your busy mind? Then try mediation. It’s great at any time of the day, but it’s especially helpful for relaxing and preparing for sleep. There are so many great guided meditations for sleep on the internet. Headspace is a fabulous app that can get your started. I personally love the UCLA guided meditations. Here’s one for sleep.
8) Go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday
Research shows that creating a reliable body clock where you go to bed and rise at the same times each day improves sleep quality. Your circadian rhythm (the body’s 24 hour internal clock) works best when you have regular sleep habits.
As a mom, this takes planning and willpower. I have found that moving my “me time” to the mornings as opposed to after the kids are in bed has had a really positive result. For tips on maximizing your mornings, check out my post here.
9) Create a relaxing bedtime routine
Just like creating bedtime routines for your kids helps them fall asleep, relaxing bedtime routine will help you fall asleep and sleep soundly. Some examples of nightly rituals include:
- Take a relaxing hot bath: When you get out of the bath, your body’s rapid temperature drop naturally relaxes you and will help you sleep deeper.
- Read a book: Reading can be relaxing and put you right to sleep.
- Lay out your clothes: preparing for the day can help calm your mind
- Sexy time: Studies show that sex before bed will help you sleep more soundly.
10) Keep room nice and cold
Love to keep your bedroom freezing and pile on the blankets? Well, you’re in luck! It’s actually good for you. Sleeping in a cold room helps you sleep better and is actually better for your overall health!
Test it out
If you want better sleep, try a few (or all) of these strategies for a week and see what happens to your sleep.
What would you like to try?
If you are looking for more on sleep, here are a few fantastic resources to get you started.
- Freakonomics Radio has a great short series on The Economics of Sleep and it is super fascinating.
- Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to a Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success
- Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems.