Sleep Tips For Tired Mums
Remember the days when you woke up naturally, and felt amazingly rested and refreshed, like you’ve had just the right amount of sleep?
Didn’t think so!
Being a mum of young kids is a 24-hour job, usually accompanied with broken sleep and early waking. Even as they start to get older and don’t need us so much in the night, we still tend to stay up late because there’s still so much that needs doing before the next day. Also, it is usually the only time of day to get some peace and enjoy some uninterrupted alone time to watch Netflix or read a magazine.
As a result, many mums are having to function with not enough sleep. Feeling tired and pushing through, maybe with a coffee or three and some sugary snacks, is our way of coping with lack of sleep.
Yet research suggests chronic sleep deprivation can affect your health, moods, relationships, and be the cause of forgetfulness and accidents. It’s a pretty serious topic.
If motherhood has stolen your mojo and you want to make a change, start with getting more zzz’s with our top eight sleep tips.
Sleep is like nutrition for the brain – it allows you to concentrate better, you’re less likely to get sick, you’ll be more patient with the kids, it improves your mood, and it can even help you manage your weight.
MUMMY MOJO’S EIGHT SLEEP TIPS FOR MORE MOJO-FILLED DAYS
1. Eat to Sleep
What you eat and when you eat during the day can have a big impact on how well you sleep at night. The first step is to eat a balanced, nutritious meal with snacks, evenly spaced throughout the day, as well as drinking 8 glasses of filtered water. Eat too little during the day, and you’ll overstuff yourself in the evening, leading to a night of tossing, turning, and indigestion. Eat too little for dinner, and you might find yourself lying awake, longing for a trip to the fridge.
Consume your main meal about four hours prior to bedtime. Include complex carbohydrates and foods rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid and an essential chemical, which helps to build protein. Consuming it late in the day will release melatonin and serotonin for good sleep. It speeds up the onset of sleep and decreases the level of spontaneous awakenings during your sleep. It is found in meat, fish, greens, and eggs.
Include a bedtime snack. Foods that contain calcium, magnesium and potassium are good choices, since these minerals support healthy nerve and muscle function and can help muscles relax. Some bedtime snacks you could consider to help you sleep include: Nuts and tofu; cheese and crackers; cereal with milk; banana slices on whole wheat toast; peanut butter sandwich; tart cherry juice; dried goji berries; fresh raspberries; almonds and walnuts. If you are being woken in the night to feed, try having a few of these snacks to hand if you get hungry.
2. Avoid Afternoon Slump
How we handle afternoon slumps can make or break your sleep routine. Even if it were possible, an afternoon nap is bad news, no matter how good an idea it might seem at the time (what mum has time for an afternoon nap?!). Unless you are suffering from night-time sleep deprivation with a newborn, you should try to avoid afternoon naps at all costs.
But that doesn’t mean reaching for sugary or fatty foods to give you a pick-me up – the boost is short-lived, followed by a slump, and in turn will lead to poor quality sleep. If you struggle mid-afternoon, try a 10-minute relaxing meditation, or a walk around the block. Both are great ways to increase your energy naturally.
Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine can disrupt normal sleep patterns. You may be able to fall asleep, but you don’t stay asleep. And that makes it harder to reach the deepest (and most restful DELTA) stage of sleep. The general rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after 2pm.
3. Move your Body
You need to ensure you have moved your body during the day to ensure that you are physically tired as well as mentally tired at bedtime. Apart from relieving stress (which can trigger insomnia) exercising in the afternoon or early evening can also help you fall asleep by raising your body temperature a few hours before bed, allowing it to fall as you are ready for sleep later in the evening (a fall in body temperature is one of the triggers for sleep).
4. Sleep Schedule
Stick to a sleep schedule by consistently waking up and retiring at the same time every day. Yes, even on weekends! Your best bet is to pick a schedule that will allow you to sleep for at least 7 hours a night. So, if you like to get up at 5am to go for a run or get a head start on the day, you need to get to sleep earlier. Do whatever you can to get to sleep at your chosen time each night, including getting the kids to bed at a regular time, and keep practicing until it becomes a habit. In time you will be able to train your body to get tired, go to sleep and wake up at the required time feeling refreshed. You may not even need an alarm clock!
5. Relaxing Bedtime Ritual
Don’t let that rascal, cortisol (the stress hormone), get the best of you! Have a routine every night that relaxes you and cues sleep time is coming. If your bedtime is 10pm, try switching off TV, mobile phone and other electronics at 9pm. Make yourself a night time camomile drink that is conducive to sleep, take a warm bath with lavender oil, remove make-up and brush your teeth, dim the lights, take stress herbs or a magnesium supplement, write in a journal, do some yoga stretches or read a book. To raise melatonin – your sleep hormone – turn off the laptop and instead listen to a guided meditation before bed to help you get mentally ready for sleep.
6. Bedroom Ambiance
Save your bedroom for sleeping (and sex). Think relaxation and release rather than work and entertainment. This means not watching TV, texting, working or scrolling through Facebook. Make sure the room is cool. When it’s time for lights out, make sure that the room is completely dark. Darkness cues your body to release the natural sleep hormone melatonin, which is crucial for falling asleep, while light suppresses it. Even the smallest amount of light will affect your release of melatonin. If you have to have an alarm clock or phone plugged in, try turning them away from you or covering them to black out the light. The darker it is the better you’ll sleep throughout the night and wake up feeling refreshed.
7. Mumsomnia and Night-time Waking
If you find you can’t get to sleep within 20 minutes of getting into bed, get up again. Go into another room, read a book or fold laundry, just do something in a different space. If you’ve got stuff on your mind, get them out of your head or onto paper by keeping a journal in your bedside drawer. When you feel yourself getting sleepy go back to bed and try again.
If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, stay in bed. Conserve your energy by lying still and being calm and relaxed. Be mindful and welcome your thoughts and emotions.
8. Have Sex
Have you ever wondered how men can go from enthusiastically doing the deed to a deep sleep in minutes? It turns out that the oxytocin that’s released during an orgasm can work better than the best sleeping tablets! So it’s worth giving sex a go, even if you’re tired, because it might just help you sleep like a baby. And don’t forget, sex also fights aging, improves your mood, tones your body, boosts the immune system, alleviates stress levels - and it improves your pelvic floor – so what are you waiting for!