It's not uncommon for me to hear from a parent whose child just started sleeping through the night,
"My kid is sleeping great, but I still can't get a good night of sleep!"
If that's you, you're in the right place. Moms and dads can use sleep help too!
And in case you need some extra encouragement to do something about your own sleep...
A good night's sleep will benefit you well beyong childhood. If your body is consisently getting the sleep it needs, you will see improved cognitive function, you will have reduced your risk of many chronic diseases, your mood and emotional regulation will improve, your immune system will be stronger as will your physical performace.
I don't know about you, but that's enough motivation for me to prioritize sleep in my own life!
I used the word "prioritize" on purpose. Many of us wish we had better sleep, we complain about our sleep from time to time, but when it comes down to actually making changes to improve our sleep, we aren't quite as motivated. It's much easier to pour another cup of coffee (or caffine of choice) and power through.
So I would encourage you to weigh the benefits of a good night before reading on and decide whether you are open to making some (possibly difficult and inconvenient) changes in your habits and routines to acheive those benefits.
1. Take a look at your environment
How sleep-friendly is your bedroom? Your environment really does play a crucial role in determining the quality of your sleep. Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and cool. Turn off all electronics, including your phone, laptop, and TV, at least one full hour before bedtime. Electronic devices emit blue light that can interfere with your body's production of melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep).
Want to go one step further? Get all electronics out of your room altogether. I started keeping my phone out of my bedroom several years ago and I can't tell you how freeing it's been! A small investment in an alarm clock and some boundaries around your devices will be a game changer when it comes to your sleep and morning routine!
2. Stick to a sleep schedule
Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends! This helps to regulate your body's internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep. As tempting as it may be, avoid sleeping in, as this can disrupt your sleep cycle and make it harder to fall asleep the next night. But if your kids are anything like mine, it's likely that sleeping in became a distant memory the moment your first child was born. It's going to bed at the same time every night that needs more work!
3. Wind down before bedtime
Take time to relax before bedtime. Yes, even adults benefit from a "bedtime routine". Engage in calming activities that you enjoy such as reading a book, listening to music, taking a warm bath, or practicing yoga. Avoid engaging in stimulating activities, such as working out or watching an exciting movie, right before bed.
4. Watch what you eat and drink
Avoid eating large meals or drinking caffeinated beverages, alcohol, or nicotine before bedtime. These substances can interfere with your sleep and make it harder to fall asleep.
5. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise can help improve the quality of your sleep. You don't want to be exercising right before bed, though. Plan a time during your day to get some regular exercise in. If you can, aim to finish your workout at least 3 hours before you plan to go to bed.
6. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow
Your mattress and pillow play a critical role in the quality of your sleep. Invest in a comfortable mattress and a pillow that support your sleeping position and help reduce pain and discomfort.
7. Manage stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety can interfere with your sleep. Practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing, prayer, meditation, or journaling to help reduce your stress levels and improve the quality of your sleep.
8. Consult with a healthcare professional
These tips are a great place to start, but if you're still struggling to get a good night of sleep, I recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. They can help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your sleep difficulties and recommend appropriate treatment.
If you are anything like me, making sleep a priority can be a struggle. We love our "adult" time after the kids go to bed - whether it's watching a favorite show, curling up with a book, spending time with our partner - all of those activities seem way more desireable than prioritizing sleep in the moment. But if you've found that your sleep needs improvement, I would encourage you to try implementing some of the changes above. Give it a good 1-2 weeks and then evalute how you are feeling.
Because, remember, sleep changes take time.