14 Easy Steps to Better Sleep
I’ve had three babies, and I’ve literally dreamt of better sleep.
Really, every mom fears that the best sleep of her life was probably before kids.
To add to the sleep deprivation, I developed a bit of insomnia when our youngest little lady was born. I couldn’t seem to turn my mind off before bed or after I was up with her at night.
The combination of the two led to some brutally exhausting days.
Why Sleep Is So Important
And this is a problem. Sleep serves a critical role in physical and emotional well being. Good sleep provides us with essential memory processing, repairs our bodies, regulates our body weight, and drastically affects our mood.
That’s why after a short night of sleep we feel grouchy while making poor decisions. And end up putting the milk in the pantry…
So, when my kids let me sleep, I NEED it to be the best sleep of my life! Even if baby girl has a bad night and the total amount is less than ideal. We all have things we can’t control that give us less than ideal sleep (kids, jobs, perhaps a social life).
Yet, let’s focus on what we can control. There are many ways to set ourselves up for success and our best possible sleep more often.
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Studies show that exercise reduces symptoms of insomnia and gives us more time in deeper, more restorative sleep.
On the days that I work out, I notice that I fall asleep and stay asleep much much better. Even a 10-minute walk is helpful!
No Food Before Bedtime
I follow this rule because I noticed that my stomach does better when I don’t eat right before laying down.
A medical professional advised this to a friend for sleep! It’s difficult to relax in slumber when our bodies are trying hard to digest that 8:00 snack.
No Caffeine After 3:00 for Better Sleep
Some people even need this to be sooner in the day. Caffeine is a great pick me up in the morning, but too late in the day and it hurts much more than it helps.
I don’t have a lot of caffeine in general, so I can really feel it if I break this rule. Do you notice the difference when you have it too late?
Get Vitamin D
At least 10 minutes of sunlight exposure during the day helps us fall asleep at night. If we don’t experience enough daylight, it’s tough to keep our bodies regulated and on track for night!
So step out, work on the deck, or take a lunch break walk for vitamin D and fresh air.
SET UP THE SLEEP ENVIRONMENT
Our bodies need to be signaled that it’s time to sleep, and our bedrooms should be a place conducive for the best shut-eye possible!
Get the Lighting Right
Turn on the lamps an hour before bed to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down for the night. And, research shows that it’s best to sleep in a dark environment. Any lights on confuse our bodies into thinking that it’s daytime.
Of course, with kids, we have night lights everywhere. However, I have removed some blinking lights previously in our bedroom. And a sleep mask could help with this too.
Keep it Cool
The bedroom should be between 60-67 degrees to help cool the body. We have all noticed that it’s extremely difficult to sleep when we’re warm!
I’ve started sleeping with the fan on again and open windows. It helps so much!
Include White Noise
The fan helps with this as well! LeBron James even uses a white noise app to get his best sleep possible while doing the crucial work of recovering his body after games.
I do have the app from this site HERE for white/relaxing noise, which I LOVE.
Get Screens Out Or Off
The bedroom should be for sleep and romance. Listening to a text message come in, watching late night tv, and checking Facebook one last time while laying in bed, signals our bodies to remain awake.
Screens should be off 1 hour before bed.
The nights when I work on the computer or check my social media are often the nights that I take forever to fall asleep.
I now turn my phone off at eight pm, and this has been very helpful at removing the temptation to browse just one last time!
Read Before Bed
Since those screens are turned off, this is a great substitute. But be careful. I love reading, but anything too exciting ends up with me getting way too involved and forgetting about the clock altogether.
Reading self-improvement books before bed seems to work best for me. I’m interested in them, but I’m not lost in a story that I can’t put down.
Do Something Relaxing
To my husband’s utter dismay, a little shoulder massage knocks me completely out when nothing else will. I’m asleep immediately after.
Anything relaxing would be helpful here though. A bubble bath, self-massage, stretching, or a warm cup of tea (have the tea an hour or two before) work wonders.