Mums sacrifice so much for their children. One such thing is that little luxury... sleep. Although it isn't a luxury at all. It is an absolute necessity. One which our modern world doesn't respect enough. Of course, when you have children your sleep habits are going to change. In those early weeks and months with a new born, I feel like you have to do absolutely everything you can to get sleep and rest when the opportunity arises, whatever time of day. Functioning on minimal sleep is hard beyond belief.
But as the months and years tick by, you may find your child sleeping for several hours at a time, perhaps through the night. HA, not mine. At two years old, my little sleep thief very much looks for my comfort throughout the night. And I still want to function as a fairly normal human during the day, so I've found myself adopting a few habits that help.
First up, I make sleep a priority. No one can function optimally on just a few hours of sleep a night, seriously. 7 hours MINIMUM. And when I've had bad sleep, I really feel it. My mood is awful, I get angry and anxious. So here are some of the habits that I have implemented to keep myself sane and happy (most of the time).
In the evenings, my phone goes on to aeroplane mode and I stop looking at it, usually an hour or so before bed. That blue light is really confusing for our internal body clock, which has massive repercussions on our mood, energy and general functioning and health.
I also keep my phone in the living room for the night. It does not go in to the bedroom at all. My body does not need the light OR distraction and constant stress response (even on a tiny level) from the world of social media/ internet etc.
I ensure the bedroom is as a dark as possible and cool. Both key for optimising sleep quality. Black out blinds/curtains are great if you have street lights or other constant light outside your bedroom window.
I keep hydrated throughout the day, and limit my water intake in the evening so I don't have to keep waking up for the loo. I do, however, love a bedtime tea, a herbal one that aids sleep and relaxation. I personally love Yogi Bedtime Tea.
I eat dinner in the early evening, at least 3 hours before bed. This ensures my body is able to optimally digest my dinner and then be ready to 'switch off and clean up' for the night.
Did you know, our digestive systems perform the most amazing clean up task at night? Whilst we are sleeping, and ultimately fasting, our digestive system does some helpful 'housekeeping' which is really important for our gut health. If we are eating late, we are restricting our bodies ability to do this.
A dinner balanced with complex carbs, quality protein and fat, and plenty of fibre, is ideal for seeing me through until breakfast.
I avoid caffeine as much as possible because I'm aware of how sensitive I am to it. Everyone's caffeine tolerance is different. I enjoy the occasional coffee, but only ever before midday. Cacao, dandelion or chicory 'coffee' and herbal teas have become my preferred choices which aren't as stimulating and suit me much better. Remember, black, green, and earl grey tea, and chocolate all contain caffeine too. If you are sensitive, these could be impacting your ability to fall asleep.
If I'm lying in bed struggling to get to sleep (which I admit is rare) I either do breathing exercises, where I slow my breathing down, inhaling through the nose, and making the exhale longer than the inhale. The very action of focusing on breathing is calming, and slowing down the breathing is signalling to the body that you are safe. I have also started to journal, which I'm finding very therapeutic. Journaling with a notebook and pen though, no screens!
I make sure I am in bed at a reasonable hour. Sounds obvious, but with the amount of times I am woken up by my little one (sometimes half a dozen times or more) I need to ensure I am still getting adequate rest. If that means I am in bed from 9pm - 7am, then so be it. I feel a damn sight better for doing it. I also try to stick to a fairly consistent evening and morning routine, whether it be weekdays or weekends.
An Epsom salt bath in the evening can aid relaxation and sleep. Soaking in Epsom salts is a great way to absorb magnesium, which is key for relaxation.
Morning routines are important too. If you can, get outside in daylight as soon as possible. Exposing your eyes to daylight in the morning is really helpful for setting your body clock.
Sleep is the ultimate healer. Our immune system doesn't work as well without enough. Our digestive system cleans up and promotes good gut health. Our blood sugar balance is negatively affected if we don't get enough. And we crave carby, sugary, energy dense food, and caffeine. All of which then adversely affect our sleep. Viscous cycle hello. We are more stressed without enough sleep. Every system in our body is impacted by poor sleep.
So, sleep is a bare minimum necessity for you. Everyone should make it a priority, but especially when you have little ones disrupting your night. Do whatever it takes to foster good sleep hygiene to ensure you are adequately rested.
For more help and advice tailored to you and your lifestyle, please do get in touch.