I’ve not ‘slept through the night’ for 6yrs; i.e. since I first had kids.
But to be honest I wasn’t the best sleeper before that either. The big hairy northern one is a snorer; the waxy ear plugs from Boots help, but they weren’t ever a total result. Plus there have been times that I would take hours to get to sleep.
So I’ve made it my business to get better at sleeping and dealing with lack of energy and here are my sleep tips for tired Mums …
1) Sleep apps and Hypnotherapy
I found the most amazing hypnotherapy sleep app by Andrew Johnson for my iPhone which is also available for androids and to be downloaded. I normally hate the plinking plonking muzac and fake voice, but this guy has a sexy scottish voice and it works brilliantly. Plus it has the effect of improving your sleep. Even if interrupted and woken up. He also has one for children.
When I was 26 I gave up smoking and the hypnotherapist sorted out my slowness in getting to sleep for free. It lasted for at least 5 yrs I reckon, but did eventually wear off.
2) Hot milk
It’s really old fashioned, but I do like a glass of milk or hot milk or ovaltine/horlicks sometimes before bed. Especially if I ate with the kids, as otherwise I’ll get hungry through the night. It might be a placebo, but heh, it works for me!
3) Bach Flower Sleep Remedy
The biggest problem is often getting back to sleep after being woken up and then beginning to panic. This remedy works brilliantly for me, much better than any other herbal remedies and you can get it in Boots or health food shops.
4) Getting ready for bed with the kids
I’ve often found that washing my face wakes me up, and I need a couple of hours in my PJ’s in order to feel sleepy. So for the past few years I have gotten ready for bed with the kids. Yep there are the occasional embarrassing moments when a neighbour pops round for something and looks at me weirdly, but it works, you just have to wear those ‘lounge pant’ type of PJ’s!
Not extreme maybe if I’m exhausted and not just before bedtime; more the type that helps you sleep well and gets your body moving like Walking, swimming or dancing. Fresh air is notoriously good for helping you sleep. Check out all my other exercise tips here.
6) Cool head
It’s been proved that you need a warm body and cool head in order to get to sleep, so it’s quite nice to have the window open a little. I also hate having hot feet, so I’ll run them under the tap to cool them down if they do their weird heating up thing.
7) Using up excess mental capacity
Sometimes my brain hasn’t worked enough; after all cleaning isn’t very exciting to me. So I find something interesting, but not too interesting to use up the excess like books on my iPhone, or Solitaire. I’m a huge fan of all the pretty pictures on Pinterest to get me sleepy. Baby TV on Sky is also incredibly soporific!
If I’m worrying about something I’ll get a piece of paper and write down all the rubbish from my head and then count my blessings for what I do have.
I don’t actually attempt to go to sleep until my eyelids are dropping.
8) A good pillow and mattress
I must be getting old to be talking about this; but yes I am just in the process of buying a ‘good’ mattress and recently bought a new pillow. Apparently when you are lying down on your side, your spine should be in a straight line and mine wasn’t; it was sort of tipped at the spine, hence I hurt in the morning.
Be careful that you are not allergic to your bedding e.g. feathers in the pillows.
9) No Caffiene or Chocolate
I don’t drink much anyway, so I have to avoid caffeine from about 5pm, plus I found that some alcohol and medicines have it in them as well. You can always tell if you lie down and your heart keeps pumping really fast, that you have eaten or drunk something that has affected your metabolism (or someone just screamed BOO at you!).
This also means no chocolate (especially dark) or really sweet stuff for me in the evening sadly, because I just won’t be able to sleep.
10) Carbs for dinner but not too much
Carbohydrates are great for dinner to make you sleepy; so potatoes, rice, and pasta. But don’t eat too much, because that affects your sleep too.
11) Too exhausted
Check out all my other tips to get more energy, because sometimes I’m so tired that I can’t sleep, and then I have to sort the other things out first.
12) Make sure your room is tidy and relaxing
Gentle colours, tidy room, lovely smells and no computers of TV are more likely to get you to sleep.
13) Have a routine and stick to it
If you are a rubbish sleeper, then you really need to get yourself into a routine of going to bed by 10 or earlier and waking up at the same time everyday. It will really help. Plus some of us have a naturally sleepy time that we ignore because it’s too early, but if it works, then you can always get up earlier.
14) Get a black out blind or curtains
To help you in the morning make sure that your curtains or black out blind block out all the sunlight.
15) Ear plugs
I’m amazed by how many people living with snorers don’t wear earplugs! I’m not talking about the useless foam ones, or the horrid plastic ones that make your ears sweat and itch. There are great way ones available from Boots (and I bet other places) which work really well. They also make a sort of ‘white noise’ sound in your ears which helps sleep. Don’t worry though, I ALWAYS hear the kids somehow; it’s just one of those things.
I’m no expert in children or babies and their sleep, but these 3 basic things I do know:
1) Sleeping through the night
Ignore the term ‘Sleeping through the night’, it’s rubbish and used to judge Mums. Plus it’s a myth as it actually means 5hrs, not 8hrs. Many mums lie about it, and even if their kids slept through, I can promise you that there will be a problem at some point. I aim for 3hrs on a trot, because that gets me through two good REM cycles, so being woken at that point and then going back to sleep doesn’t cause me a problem.
I am a fan of safely co-sleeping. Well really I’m a fan of dong what works for Mummy and baby/child and it’s often a great solution. It means I don’t have to get up and down all night long, which would have the worse effect of it taking ages for me to go back to sleep. Don’t worry about your sex-life, just think out of the box and pick a different room. Plus don’t worry about ‘bad-habits’; there are plenty of books out there giving advice on how to get them into their own beds at some point and I’m sure they will be out by the time they are 16.
3) Sleep Training
However, if you’re a working mum and for some reason this just wouldn’t work for you, then yes you will have to try some sort of sleep training. Make sure you check out a good site with clear ideas on how long you can reasonably expect your baby to be sleeping first though e.g. Babycenter. Elizabeth Pantley and Dr William Sears offer gentler solutions which you might want to try before going for the tougher ones. Yes, I do believe that there can be consequences to it, in fact I suspect that my inability to sleep came from that sort of training as a baby (I didn’t learn to sleep, I just learnt to shut up). However, those consequences are not as bad as you throwing the baby out of the window in severe sleep deprivation, so you’ve got to be practical about it.
If you have any tips to share that helped you out of a sticky sleep patch I’d love to hear.
Even better, if you try one of my tips and it works, please do come back and share it!
Don’t underestimate the power of sleep deprivation; remember it is used as torture.
(p.s. no one paid me anything to mention their products in this post)