Most parents don’t get enough sleep. When your baby is keeping you awake through the night that is one thing, but sometimes even when our children are sleeping, we can’t!
Sleep deprivation is well understood now to effect so many functions in our body; from brain processing, eye sight, mood, appetite. So if you can’t sleep here are some tips to try;
Make your bedroom calming and relaxing, a sleep inducing environment
- Clear the clutter, it’s not relaxing to look out over clutter, sneak in storage wherever you can. Especially concentrate on your eye line and clear the areas you look at often. Even stacking up books or moving the laundry basket can help clean the lines.
- Stay cool, the recommended temperature is around 16-18C / 60-65F.
- We are programmed to sleep in the dark so avoiding light at night will help, put an extra curtain or black out blind up. If that’s not an option then go for an eye mask.
- Keep household noise to a minimum. Noisy neighbours or traffic are a bit trickier. Noise insulation on walls can work well but pricey, ear plugs are a much cheaper option. There are also sound blocking curtains and blinds on the market too.
- Stop looking at screens which emit blue light 2 hours before bed, so no laptop in bed, no scrolling through your phone for hours before sleep. Try reading, or listening to a gentle podcast.
Get it out of your head
Sometimes we have worries or concerns buzzing about in our heads which stop us sleeping. We may be aware these things are bothering us, or other times it can be low lying niggles which we aren’t fully aware of.
- Get yourself a pad of paper and pen and keep it next to your bed. If you are lying in bed not sleeping, write it down, whatever it is, whatever comes into your head. It will help your mind rest.
- It can also be helpful writing a sleep diary if you are having a period of sleeplessness. Without getting obsessed by it, write down any patterns you notice, timings you’ve woken etc, things you’ve eaten/drunk before bed or what you’ve done that day. This might be helpful if you need to see your GP to talk to them in more detail about what you’re experiencing.
Help your circadian rhythms – your natural body clock.
- Our circadian rhythm is basically our 24 hour clock in the background of our brain, it cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals, aka sleep wake cycle. This happens without us doing anything BUT what we do can have a big impact on it.
- Get outside in daylight, even on a cloudy day, can help reset your circadian rhythm. So get up and out in the morning to help wake your body up.
- Exercise can help you sleep, but often when you are exhausted you feel you just don’t have the energy to do anything. Don’t feel you need to run for miles or do an aerobics class, low impact exercise can help too. Even a 15 minute walk or some gentle stretching. There are some good guided yoga practices on You Tube.
- Get into a good bedtime ritual. We often do this for our children, we all talk about ‘the bedtime routine’ but it helps for us adults to. Try to go to bed the same time each night, have a warm bath/ shower to relax, read a book. This winding down ritual will help the circadian clock.
Eat & Drink Well To Sleep Well
Some foods will help you sleep, some will hinder your sleep.
- Foods to eat: Focus on protein rich foods which will keep you sustained for longer throughout the day. Think about adding in more meat, eggs, fish, pulses or tofu to boost your diet. Remember to drink lots of water too, that can help you feel less tired during the day. If you’re really hungry around bedtime a banana, or nut butter on oat cake can provide some tasty nutrients that also help you produce sleep hormones. Some studies have shown eating kiwi or drinking tart cherry juice before bed can improve sleep.
- Foods to avoid: Sugars, alcohol and tobacco can all interfere with our body’s natural sleep rhythms. That cup of tea or coffee which helps lift you from your mid-afternoon slump could be keeping you up. Stop drinking caffeine by 1pm to help your body get rid of it by bedtime. It can take longer than you think to be removed from the body.
Take it easy on yourself.
Insomnia won’t last forever.
- Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t sleep after 20 mins or so and you are getting frustrated. Get up, go into a different room, take some deep breaths, try again in 10 minutes.
- Some apps can help you with guided breathing exercises to help induce sleep, try Calm or Headspace.
- Do go and see your GP if you have extended or unexplained insomnia or trouble sleeping.
What are your favourite sleep tips? What else could you share with others to help.
If you are interested in finding out more about how your diet can help you sleep, please contact Anna our Nutritional Therapist or if you would like to talk to someone generally about how you are feeling then Emma our Mother’s Mentor is here for you. We are experienced professionals and have worked with over 1500 mothers just like you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org