The definition of parenting means wanting to do all the things that our children don’t want to do. PLEASE send me to my room for timeout so I can take a nap! Early bedtime? YES! Sleeping, the nemesis of all toddlers, becomes the very thing mom dreams of.
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Years of sleepless nights with fussy babies, cranky toddlers, and house-roaming sleepwalkers sabotages a mom’s sleep habits. But on our 12 Steps to a Healthier You Journey, we are all about breaking bad habits and creating healthy habits. So, let’s take this one head on, too.
In my last post, I talked about the reasons getting less sleep is harmful to our health. Few would argue with that, especially the bleary-eyed mom who is short on sleep and hopped up on coffee. How do we get from exhausted to energized in the sleep department? Like in most things, one step at a time. Let’s look at five sleep habits that will help us catch more Z’s.
Schedule: In the words of productivity guru, Michael Hyatt, “what gets scheduled, gets done.” It’s so true. Schedule your bedtime. What a concept! The general recommendation for sleep is 7-9 hours per night. Some need more; some need less. Find your sweet spot and plan accordingly. If you need to be up by 6 a.m., and you like to have 8 hours of sleep, then you need to be in bed no later than 10 p.m. From that 10 p.m. deadline, plan back at least an hour to start preparing for bed. Once your bedtime is scheduled, it quickly becomes part of your sleep habits.
Relax: Nothing is more frustrating than tossing and turning for an hour before finally drifting off to a fitful sleep. It helps to relax for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Cut the screen time (television, phone, or computer). This lets the brain adjust to the coming downtime of sleep.
- Avoid strenuous exercise (as long as you don’t count wrestling a toddler to bed). Allow the adrenaline to settle before going to bed.
- Eat lighter evening meals several hours before bedtime. No one sleeps well on a bloated stomach or a growling stomach.
- Drink something warm and soothing, especially during the colder nights. I like turmeric milk. I’ll share my recipe in my next post. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties are wonderful for soothing the body at bedtime. The warmth of the drink is also calming.
- Soak in a warm bath. Too hot, and you’ll spend another 30 minutes cooling down. Too cool, and you’ll spend 30 minutes trying to warm up. There’s a perfect temperature for everyone. Add Epsom salt and lavender essential oil to your bath water and soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium in the Epsom salt is a natural relaxing agent.
Unplug: Unless your teen or spouse is out late and you need to know when they’re on they’re on their way home, no one needs you after about 10 p.m. Be like the old-timey radio programs and sign off.
- Ban all electronics from the bedroom, altogether. My husband and I use our phones as alarms, but we leave them in the bathroom or office near our bedroom. Otherwise, we hear every little buzz for the email or text that comes through. So annoying.
- Computers and tablets should also be located outside the bedroom. Think of your bedroom as being a sanctuary, one to which you retreat for rest. Keep it a digital-free zone.
Prepare: Too often, us moms work all the way up until it’s time to fall into bed half dead. But preparing for a restful night’s sleep can be the key to getting a restful night’s sleep.
- Smells play a huge part in how we relax. Some smells are relaxing. Others are not so much. Skunks, for instance, do not invoke a feeling of sleepiness. Yes, we’ve awoken in the middle of night to eau de stink and panicked wondering where it was. Hopefully, not building a home right under our window! When I’m anxious and need some extra help relaxing or there’s a distinct odor in the air, I love to run a diffuser with lavender and lemon essential oil. It calms us down and prepares us for a night’s rest.
- After all is said and done, sometimes we all need a little help getting to sleep. For someone who struggles with getting to sleep or staying asleep, a sleep aid is not the end of the world. I would start with natural sleep aids before trying prescriptions. Essential oils applied directly to the skin, in addition to the diffuser, can help. Cedarwood is a good one to rub on the temples. I also like frankincense on my feet. You can never go wrong with lavender.
Environment: The environment in which we sleep often affects how well we sleep. That’s probably why we often don’t sleep well away from home. Sleep habits include where we sleep most often.
- Everyone has a different comfortable temperature at which they like to sleep. I like it cool. My husband likes it frigid. We compromise for the sake of my cold feet and the energy bill. We turn down the air to about 76 degrees (F) right before bed, and we turn it back up to 80 during the day. Then, we have a couple of fans going to get the “feel” temperature down. Fans don’t actually lower the temperature of a room. They just make you feel cooler with the air flow. I’ll take the feeling of being cool.
- Filter the noise. If you have a snorer in your midst, ear plugs are not a bad thing. It beats sleeping on the couch. Ask me how I know.
- Create a different noise. White noise, like fans, or recorded sounds, like the sound of rain or crickets help some people relax and cover the sound of traffic or other distractions.
- There are practically as many types of pillows and mattresses on the market as there are stars in the sky. If yours is lumpy and uncomfortable, consider upgrading to a better one. Visit several mattress stores and lay around on some. You can also get mattresses in a box these days, but I haven’t heard too many people using them for their primary mattress. I think more use them for guest beds. However, if you have experience with one that is super comfy, let me know. We’ll be mattress shopping in the next year or so, I think. The comfort of a mattress and pillow cannot be underestimated in developing good sleep habits.
- What are your go-to tips for getting a good night’s sleep? Share with us in the comments.Georganne