I felt like the walking dead. I’d had 4 back-to-back pregnancies. Which meant 4 newborns in under 5 years.
I questioned whether I would ever sleep well again.
The chronic fatigue of motherhood made it hard to be patient and playful with my children.
But like most moms, as much as I cherished sleep, I didn’t think it was a priority.
However, after my 4th baby was born I realized that getting enough quality sleep was directly related to achieving my goals. When I got better sleep, I was happier and more patient. Which meant my kids were happier and we had fewer tantrums.
Plus, I was working hard to lose the weight that stacked up over 4 pregnancies and I found that the better sleep I got, the easier it was to eat healthy and lose weight.
SLEEP IS THE FOUNDATION OF OUR HEALTH
Sleep impacts every area of our lives. Getting quality sleep is linked to better general health, lower stress, and a longer lifespan. Yet how often does getting enough quality sleep fall to the bottom of our list of priorities?
Most moms are not getting quality sleep.
Well, you are balancing children, a home, endless responsibilities, and maybe even work!
And what comes last?
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 (i.e. your kids) you need to make sure your mask is on.
Simply put: You need better sleep.
And making just a few changes to your routine can dramatically increase the quality of your sleep and your life.
Here’s how you can sleep soundly tonight:
10 STRATEGIES FOR MOMS TO GET 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, that is complete and utter nonsense.
You know exactly what 4 hours of sleep feels like and it doesn’t feel good.
(Listen to a sleep scientist explain the importance of sleep in this fascinating podcast episode.)
Sleep experts are adamant that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Failure to get enough sleep can be disastrous. Sleep deprived people are more likely to get into accidents and make fatal mistakes
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 decompress with some Netflix. And maybe even have an adult conversation with your husband.
And you may have to wake up with you child 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.
2) AVOID SCREENS A FEW HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME
Screen are everywhere. And they are destroying our sleep. In our digital age, avoiding screens takes serious planning and willpower.
But you can do it.
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 screens out of your room entirely.
I’ll admit, this one was a struggle for me. The hubs and I used to have this nightly ritual of watching an episode (or five) of Forensic Files in bed. It was our time to spend together after a long day and, frankly, it’s crazy good.
BUT it wasn’t great for my sleep. An dItching screens before bedtime has dramatically improved my sleep.
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 at night 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 asleep. If you rely heavily on caffeine to get through your day, then your body is literally begging you to make sleep a priority.
Improved 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. 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. Need some motivation? Check out 3 Ways for Busy Moms to Get Motivated to Workout.
7) PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING
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 deep breathing exercises.
A simple one to try is 5-5-5 breathing. Breathe in for 5 counts, hold for 5 counts, and breathe out for an additional 5 counts. Repeat a few times and you will feel your body starting to relax.
Meditation is also fabulous. It’s great at any time of the day, but it’s especially helpful for relaxing and preparing for sleep.
I used to lie awake at night, my mind racing with everything I had to do. Despite being exhausted, calming my mind seemed impossible. Until I started meditating.
I’ve found that practicing regular mediation has made it much easier for me to manage anxiety and stress. It’s made it easier to shut off my brain at night and fall asleep. There are so many great guided meditations for sleep on the internet. I personally love the UCLA guided meditations. Here’s one especially for sleep.
9) 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 drastically improves sleep quality. Your circadian rythym (the body’s 24 hour internal clock) works best when you have regular sleep habits.
As a busy mom, this will take planning and willpower since life can be a bit chaotic.
I have found that moving my “me time” to the mornings as opposed to after the kids are in bed has made it easier to go to bed after I put my kids down.
10) 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:
- Create your to-do list for the next day: Feeling prepared for the next day will allow your brain to relax and unwind.
- 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 get better sleep.
- Read a book: Reading can be relaxing and put you right to sleep.
- Lay out your clothes: Like making your to-do list, preparing your clothes for the day can help calm your mind.
11) 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!
GET BETTER SLEEP TONIGHT
Mama, your sleep is so incredibly important. You are the engine for your home and family. Making sure that engine is running well means that you need to get quality sleep.
You don’t have to try every single strategy above to start seeing really positive results. As i started to implement just a few of the strategies, I started to really notice a difference in my sleep.
Even a few changes to your routine can be life changing. Pick a few strategies that seem doable and try them for a week and see what happens.
You deserve a good night’s rest.
You’ve got this, mama!