For me, my sleep often suffers because I stay up too late to get things done. However, I need to remember to breathe, because there is always time. I have realized that I have to make sleep a priority because without it, everything else suffers - so I have come up with my list of 10 ways to improve your sleep situation.
Moms, I get it. If you are like me, you like your alone time at night once the kids are asleep. Brian and I put our girls to bed between 7:30PM and 8PM but we oftentimes find ourselves staying up late, watching mindless TV, catching up on laundry and getting lunches packed for the next day. There just never seems to be enough hours in the day. Therefore, I wasn't putting sleep first and I was staying up until 1 or 2AM. I know, TERRIBLE. After a few days of this, I totally crash and I can barely keep my eyes open at dinner. Plus, my mood is sad, frustrated and let's be honest, downright mean.
Recently, I asked my readers on Facebook about their sleep. To my surprise, many of these moms are getting a lot of sleep because they make it a priority. On the other hand, there are many moms that said that they get like 4 hours a night because they want time to themselves when the rest of the house is asleep. Some moms even get more than 8 hours a night because they feel that they function their best with more. Oh my! For the 35+ moms who commented, it appeared that the average is about 5-6 hours a night. We need more sleep mamas! Here are some of their comments:
"About 6 hours per night. After everyone else is in bed, it's quiet. I may not even get anything done, just sitting on the couch playing a mindless game, but it's quiet and it's my time." - Debbie G.
"6-7, probably closer to 6 most nights. The kids go to sleep around 8, I take a shower, clean up the kitchen, prep everything for the next day, then collapse on the couch. I like to have that downtime to unwind and zone out, usually watching TV. It's really no one's fault but my own that I don't get more at this point." - Emmy G.
"If I get 4 hours, I'm LUCKY! I have learned to function on very little sleep. If I get more than 6 hours (very rare occasion) I actually feel TIRED! I think our bodies and minds adjust when we become mothers. When I was single and without children, I couldn't function unless I had 6-8 hours of sleep. Now, I'm lucky to get that in 2 nights. Working from 9pm-5am allows me to spend a lot of time with my kids but it doesn't allow for much sleep." - Heather M.
"4 to 5. 6 if I am super tired. Those are the fringe hours for me. The house is quiet, my nerves are calmed from the homework/dinner/shower hours and my phone is quiet. I get texts, emails and phone calls all day every day and late at night I do not have to focus on that communication. No kids are awake,which means no sibling fights. And my husband is asleep too. It is all about focus for me , to get those last things checked off my list before I go to bed." - Liz L.
I am making it a personal goal of mine to get more sleep. Our bodies need sleep like they need water. It is crucial that we give our bodies a proper rest each night. Not only do our bodies need it, our minds need it too. Mamas, I think, especially need lots of sleep. We are raising other humans! This is no small feat. Plus, let me guess that you would like to lose some weight? Who wouldn't want to drop a couple of pounds? Staying up too late is not letting you lose those pounds. When we are up too late, we tend to snack or drink wine, which is totally detrimental for any weight loss or weight management plan. Plus, our metabolism totally needs rest. When we don't get enough sleep, our bodies see this as negative stress. Our levels of cortisol in the blood increase, our immune system is affected (often leading to feelings of flu and cold), and our appetite control suffers. Sleep is crucial for our well-being.
I know, so how does a busy mom get the proper rest she needs? She prioritizes it. It really is the only way it is going to happen. There is always going to be piles of dirty laundry. There is always going to be dishes in the sink. My advice - simplify your life. Do less. Have less stuff. Have less commitments outside the home. Think simple. Get your butt in bed at a decent hour. Below are my ideas.
10 ways to improve your sleep situation:
- Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it - I get up around 6:30 AM in the morning to have a few minutes to myself before waking Madilyn up for Kindergarten. I am lucky because she jumps out of bed most mornings ready to go to school. This is most likely because she is well-rested! Mamas, let's learn from our kiddos, right? My goal is to be in bed by 10:30 PM. This will give me around 8 hours of sleep. This is going to be tough for me because I am used to staying up late. However, it has to become the new normal. My health depends on it. I am already a few days into this sleep experiment and let me tell you, I feel great! Making myself go to bed at 10:30PM means that I have around 3 hours to get things done at night and that includes watching some reality TV! Having a plan is key. Stick to it.
- Eat dinner earlier in the evening - Depending on your schedule and situation, your dinner time may vary. However, make it a goal of yours to eat as early as you can. I talk to moms all the time who eat dinner at 9PM! This is really late and I think it messes with our sleep and our metabolism. We try to eat between 5:30PM and 6PM. This gives us a couple of hours to burn some calories before bedtime. If you can't eat dinner this early try to make lunch your bigger meal and save dinner for something light.
- Stop the late night snacking - We don't do bedtime snacks with the kids. They both are great eaters at dinner. They know that is the time they eat. I think bedtime snacks just lead to poor mindless eating later in life. I LOVE to snack at night but I know that it gets me in trouble. If I break open that bag of corn chips, I will grab some every time I walk past the kitchen! Therefore, I have to tell myself that I am not snacking after dinner. Kitchen is closed.
- Skip the wine during the week - If I had it my way, I would drink a glass of wine every night. I LOVE it. However, it leads to poor food choices and late night snacking for me. My goal is to save it for the weekends. Occasionally, have a glass here or there but not make it a regular thing. Plus, many people believe that alcohol may help you fall asleep but it actually leads to a poorer night's sleep because it affects with REM sleep cycles. If you do have a glass of wine, have it earlier in the evening, not right before bed.
- Take a hot bath right before bed - My new routine is to take a hot bath right before bed. Instead of T.V. or social media, I am going to try to unwind with a hot bath. I am a big fan of Epsom salt baths. Amazing. Not only are they totally relaxing but they are also detoxifying for your body. What is interesting is that Epsom salts contain magnesium which is well-known for encouraging sleep. Also, it helps with reducing inflammation which naturally helps with metabolism and weight control.
- Drink hot tea before bed - Instead of wine, try hot tea - decaffeinated of course. Hot liquids help with digestion compared to cold liquids. Therefore, it's a great idea to have a cup of hot tea after dinner. Plus, taking the time to enjoy a cup of tea is very relaxing. Remember to read labels when it comes to tea. Not all are created equal.
- Stretch before bed - Most of the women I work with as clients exercise a ton. What they are missing is that balance when it comes to relaxation and for many of them, sleep is an issue. Hard exercise is great for us but we have to balance it with relaxation and stress-management. Yoga is a great way to unwind at the end of the day. I love to do a few stretches right before bed along with some deep breathing exercises. So easy and so effective!
- Be mindful of your goals - Remember that your health matters much more than getting all of the laundry done. The laundry pile is always going to be there. Get in the habit of doing some of the chores after school or after work and let the kids help with this. All of these jobs don't have to fall on mom late at night. My kids actually love to help me around the house. The trick is letting them help me!
- Gratitude journal before bed - I am not great at remembering to do this and write everything down. However, when I am taking a relaxing bath at night I try to ask myself, "What was my favorite part of today?" "What could I do differently tomorrow?" and "What am I thankful for?" If the thought of writing these things done seems daunting, just try to mindfully think about them.
- Strive for improvement not perfection - I love to have my house nice and neat but what I have realized is that tomorrow is another day and there are going to be more dishes, laundry and papers to organize. Do what you can before your set bedtime. Everything else can wait.
Now, schedule some time for yourself and get some rest. Try it for a week and see how you feel. Give yourself 8 hours of sleep and take not how you feel when you first get up the next morning and how you feel throughout the day. Also, notice if your food cravings change. I am realizing that I am not craving carbs like I was on less sleep. My sugar cravings are way down. Stay in touch and leave a comment below regarding how your sleep experiment is going. I can't wait to hear from you!
(This post contains affiliate links to products that I love!)
Below are 10 of my favorite sleep and relaxation books and products:
EO Epsom bath salts - This is the brand that I buy and LOVE. I have only tried the french lavender and it is amazing. I also love that this brand is organic. They also make a bubble bath that is incredible. Treat yourself!
Naturally Calm magnesium - I have spoke to many busy moms who take a magnesium supplement before bed to help with shut eye. The bath salts I just mentioned also contain magnesium which is absorbed in through the skin. Either way is a great way to get needed magnesium.
Start Where You Are Journal - Any journal would work for nighttime journaling and gratitude lists but I just love the title of this one, "Start Where You Are" because that is what it is all about. No pressure. No obligations. Just relax and start jotting down some thoughts and ideas at night and see if this practice helps you fall asleep.
Sleep music CD - When I was pregnant with Madilyn I had some trouble sleeping. I had no idea what was coming with a newborn. Oh my! Anyway, Brian and I used to listen to relaxing music when we slept. I think I might do that again. It was so nice. Juliana has music on in her room. It is waves crashing. She says, "I at the beach!"
The 90-Minute Baby Sleep Program - If I could go back and do one thing before I became a mom it would be to study how to get my kids to sleep when they were little. Brian and I struggled BAD on this topic. Madilyn struggled with sleep for years and Juliana had a few rough patches. Now, by the grace of God, both girls sleep really well. I read parts of this book when Juliana was little and I was desperate. Yes, desperate. I didn't follow everything perfectly but I did find that if I tried to lay her down after 90 minutes of awake time, she did fall asleep. If we are walking zombies, I bet our kids are going to be too. Healthy kiddo sleep = healthy mama sleep.
Go the F**C to Sleep book - This book is hysterical and one that every mom needs for a good laugh. Hey, if the kids are not sleeping, neither are you!
Jumpstart Your Metabolism book - Deep breathing techniques are so interesting to me. I think that there is a lot of value in paying attention to relaxation and deep breathing. Something many people, especially moms, need in life! Heck, if it can help with my mid-30s metabolism, I am all about it!
Traditional Medicinals Organic Hot Tea - This is my favorite brand of tea. Make sure you buy good quality teas.
Good Night Yoga book - This book is great for moms and kids. What a great practice to do together every night with your kids before bed? Everyone will get relaxed and ready for sleep.
Healthy Sleep Audio CD - I know a lot of women who take sleeping pills to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Before taking these pills, try some healthier alternatives. This is an audio CD that talks about insomnia and provides practical tools to help with sleep.
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