Ahhhhh sleep. Bedtime is easily one of my favorite times of the day. But being that I’m a toddler mom, a business owner, a graduate student, a wife, etc. sleep can sometimes be a bit more challenging to come by. Since I wear so many hats in my everyday life, sleep is essential to my overall health and wellbeing. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to give our daughter my all and I’d have zero energy to actually sit down at my desk and get my work done. So since having Allie, I’ve had to really hone in on my sleep and find a system that works well for me in terms of making sure I’m able to get enough sleep at night. Aside from sleeping training our little one, here aee 9 other habits that can help you get a better sleep!
Create a Routine
Just like children, we adults need a good bedtime routine in place as well. Something calm and relaxing to help ease our bodies into sleep time. This means fewer electronics and upbeat activities and more activities that are quiet and slow like reading a book or taking a nice bath. Lately, my go-to activity at the end of the day is reading. I love crawling into bed with a good book and a glass of wine. It’s my new favorite past time! I’ll read for a good 30-60 minutes before falling asleep and it helps so much in calming down from the busy day.
Turn Off The Electronics
Screens are proven to be horrible for your sleep. Plain and simple. But from a more scientific (yet simplified) standpoint, screens can keep your brains more alert due to the continuous cognitive stimulation. Not only that, but the screen itself emits light that suggests to the brain that it is still daytime. This prevents your brain from being able to calm down long enough to get into a peaceful state of mind for sleep and can further lead to conditions like insomnia and sleep deprivation.
In addition to naturally keeping your brain more alert, if you’re on your phone talking to someone or reading through news articles then it can actually increase tension in your body and cause you to feel more stressed out (which we’ll discuss later). So if you find yourself up all night, staring at your phone because you can’t sleep, know that it’s probably the phone that’s keeping you from sleeping. It’s best to turn off all devices at least an hour before bed.
For more information: Scary Ways Technology Affects Your Sleep via Sleep.org
Eliminate Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol are both proven to disrupt sleep patterns (I know I just said above that I love climbing into bed with a glass of wine but give me a break. I’m working on ending the bad habit haha). While a nice glass of wine could help you drift off to sleep faster, it’s going to ultimately disrupt those sleep patterns and prevent you from going into a deep sleep. So chances are, you’ll wake up feeling a bit groggy and not as well-rested.
The argument against caffeine before bed is pretty straightforward. Caffeine is a stimulant meaning that it increases alertness, reduces fine motor coordination, can lead to insomnia, and can cause headaches, nervousness, dizziness, anxiety, a rapid heartbeat, sleep disturbance, etc. So obviously drinking it right before bed isn’t going to help you fall asleep and it’s not going to help in keeping you asleep throughout the night either. So it’s best to avoid both caffeine and alcohol about an hour or two before bedtime.
For more information: Caffeine and Sleep via The National Sleep Foundation
Stop Snacking In Bed
This one has always been super challenging for us because we’re pretty big snackers. We almost always have a box of Gold Fish or something next to our bed for movie nights. But it’s actually a pretty bad habit and going to bed on a full stomach can make it more challenging for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. Not only that, but it’s not the best for digestion either. Allow your body to process your food prior to heading to bed!
Go To Sleep And Wake Up At The Same Time
Stop hitting the snooze. Seriously. I know that’s so much harder said than done, but the more you hit the snooze, the harder it is to wake up. And most times it’ll just leave you feeling more groggy than well-rested. Having Allie helped me tremendously with this. She’s my morning alarm clock so when she wakes, we’re up. And regardless of what time it is when she wakes, I always feel so much more well-rested than I ever did when I used to hit the snooze and keep putting myself back to sleep.
In addition to waking up at the same time every morning, it’s good to get yourself in the habit of going to bed around the same time every night as well. In our home, Zack and I are typically asleep between 9 and 10pm (and then we all wake up at 7am). So we get a good 9 hours of sleep on average every night which is awesome. I know so many mamas who dream of getting a full night’s sleep so we do our best to keep it consistent and make it a top priority in our home. Routines and schedules can work for everyone in the family!
Keep The Room Cool
Studies have shown that sleeping in a chilled room can help you fall asleep faster, improves sleep quality, improves melatonin levels, reduces stress, boosts your mood, and prevents insomnia (this explains why I always tend to sleep better in the wintertime over the summer months!). It’s also been linked to decreasing your risk of diseases like metabolic diseases and heart disease. So with all these awesome benefits, why not sleep in a chilled room?
If you don’t have air conditioning in your home then there are plenty of other ways to cool your room down: close the blinds to prevent heat from becoming trapped in your room, buy a great fan, invest in black out curtains, buy the right sheets to keep your bed cool, sleep naked, drink cold water before bed, etc. There are so many ways to create that optimal chilled sleeping environment!
For more information: Is It Really Better To Sleep In A Cool Room? via The Sleep Advisor
Turn On Some White Noise
I love white noise. My MIL got me hooked on using a white noise app on my iPhone when I was living back home and I literally used it every single night to fall asleep. Now, I have the sound from Allie’s sound machine through he’d monitor and I keep the window open so I can hear all the outside noises as well. This helps to block out noises that could wake me up (just like you’d do with babies) and provides me with soothing background noise to drift off to.
Use A Eye Mask
I recently became obsessed with wearing an eye mask to bed. To the point where I now can’t sleep without it. Our house backs up to a school parking lot so, between the lights in the parking lot and the light from Allie’s monitor, our room can be quite bright at night. So an eye mask really helps to block out that excess light.
In addition to blocking the light, the slight pressure on my eyes helps me to keep them closed. I’m not sure if everyone else here has this issue? But if I can’t sleep then I’ll constantly open my eyes to check on Allie or look around the room. So an eye mask prevents me from doing that and helps me to keep my eyes closed long enough to fall asleep.
Stress can come in all shapes and sizes. Even something like working too close to bedtime can make it challenging for me to fall asleep. Not only that, but it can prevent you from sleeping soundly as well. So it’s best to find something calming to do before bed. Turn off the electronics, take a calming bath, read a good book, get in a good workout. Whatever you do, make sure you’re going to bed with a clear head and feeling stress-free.