Sleep... what we adults should be doing for a third of our day, but we may not on a regular basis. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you still feel tired when you do wake in the morning? Do you toss and turn and wake frequently during the night? If so, read on for some tips to help yourself and your children get more restorative sleep.
You probably have a bedtime routine for your children to help them transition smoothly into sleep, but do you have one for yourself? Is it really calming, or are you watching an intense TV show or checking your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter before you fall asleep?
My kids are very young (1 & 3 years old) so they have a bath, brush teeth, get jammies, nurse/read books and then bed. Every night. Routine. This helps their brains know to start transitioning into sleep mode. When it needs to be changed for whatever reason, it takes a couple days for them to adjust and that is perfectly normal.
So, what would be a good routine for an adult?
Well, take a bath yourself, drink a cup of tea, read a book, meditate. Give yourself the same relaxation routine that you do for your children. I wash my face, read a book, once in bed, I take a few deep breaths and mentally express gratitude for at least 3 moments during the day. If your mind is going a hundred different places, it may help to journal to write down your thoughts.
One last thing about routine - this applies to weekdays and weekends. You should be consistent and apply your routine every day.
2. No Electronic Devices
Did you notice I said watching TV and checking your social media isn't calming? All that new information your brain is processing by reading all the different posts is very stimulating; not relaxing. Watching an intense TV show gets your heart racing with adrenaline; not relaxing. As adults, and especially parents of small children, we may be looking forward to our time to do those things, but really it is not helping our sleep. The recommendation is to turn off your electronic devices at least 1 hour before bed. If you think you have to be using your phone or computer before bed, (I get it, I do it too sometimes, but to read an ebook or watch a webinar, not check my social media) there are screen protectors and apps that block the stimulating blue LED light.
How is your bedroom? Is it as dark as can be? Is it as quiet as can be? Do you cool down the temperature at night? Make your bedroom as cave-like as possible. We have black-out curtains over the windows to block out the moon and those lovely monsoon lightening storms in the summer. Our digital clock has red letters which is the least disruptive. (Blue and green are brighter and therefore more stimulating.) Electronics are turned off. The thermostat is turned down a few degrees. The only real sound is that of the ceiling fan; no radio or TV.
4. Avoid Stimulants
This may seem obvious, but sometimes the obvious needs to be stated and reminded. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other stimulants at least 6 hours before bedtime. While one glass of wine may be relaxing, several can be stimulating.
Exercise is better in the morning, but if you do it in the evening, try for at least 3 hours before bedtime to be done with your exercise routine as cardio exercise is very energizing (stimulating.)
5. Avoid Bedtime Snacks
Stop eating 3 hours before bed. This is so your body isn't busy digesting your food, when it should be resting. This also helps to give your body a 12 hour fast each day, so when you do break the fast by eating breakfast, it is about 12 hours since your last meal of the previous day.
6. How to Fall Back Asleep Faster
If something/someone does wake you in the middle of the night, don't fret about being able to fall back asleep. Follow the same bedtime rituals; no lights, no electronic devices, keep noise down to a minimum. Take deep breaths and express gratitude for more things or moments.
7. Relaxing Teas
What are some herbal teas that promote sleep? Chamomile, lavender, valerian, catnip, lemon balm, passion flower, peach and wild cherry. Also, a teaspoon of honey with a glass of water before bed has been shown to help with sleep.
Here is a sleep chart I like to reference to help gauge if my kids are getting enough sleep. If your kids aren't getting the recommended amount of sleep, perhaps they need an earlier bedtime. All the sleep experts I have read say that "Sleep begets sleep" which means an earlier bedtime typically means a later wake-up time. As counter-intuitive as that sounds, I have noticed it to be true of my children. Also, if your child is still napping, the better the nap, usually the better the nighttime sleep.
And for the baby, a nice chart to help gauge when she should be ready for her nap as it changes every month or two.
We all need good rest so that our bodies stay healthy, our mind stays alert throughout the day and we have the energy to keep up with our kiddos!
How will you take steps to improve your sleep? Let me know in the comments!
With love, hugs and smiles,