Fifteen Top Tips For Getting Better Sleep For Busy Mums And Dads

Sleep, one of the most crucial things for our well being, but so often not that easy to come by!


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 …

Your Sleep

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!

5) Exercise

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.


Baby’s Sleep

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.

2) Co-sleeping

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.

Remember to check out my other tips for getting more energy as well, or healthy eating (even if you are a rubbish cook like me!).

(p.s. no one paid me anything to mention their products in this post)



Hints and Tips Pregnancy

These hints and tips are just things that worked for me, so I thought I would share them just incase they work for someone else, please share them with anyone you know who is pregnant.  Now obviously it is always wise to check with your health professional about any of the supplements and vitamins that I talk about below, as I am not a specialist, just a Mum.

Because I had turned 40 while I was pregnant I was a great deal more focussed on my health.  I was much more vigilant on taking Pregnacare (vitamins specially formulated for pregnant or nursing mothers) extra, which includes Omega3 tablets as well.  I also took a liquid Iron supplement called Spatone for a while (liquid iron doesn’t tend to constipate you like the pills do).  Then when I got more tired I replaced Spatone with Floradix, which is a liquid iron and mineral supplement; much more effective, but also more expensive.  Ironically, I had to be much more healthy this time because unlike the chocolate & crisps I existed on in my first pregnancy (the only thing I fancied when feeling sick every day for 9 months), I only felt well when eating very small portions of healthy food.  The outcome was that within 2 weeks of ‘little pink’ being born, I had lost all my pregnancy weight; but don’t start getting jealous, because I do have the weight from pregnancy no1 still ;o)  ‘Little pink’ also came out nearly 3lbs heavier than ‘monster/angel boy’ and appeared a great deal stronger.  Of course, these outcomes could be nothing to do with my strategies, but hey, it’s possible and I do think that it’s worth remembering that diets are a no-no when pregnant, but you aren’t actually eating for two full sized people when pregnant either!

One thing I didn’t get to do as much of as in pregnancy No1 was exercise, because there just isn’t the time for it.  I was worried, but afterwards realised that just being a Mum of a 4yr old was enough, even with the onset of SPD (hip and pelvis pain due to the body releasing too much relaxin) which meant I wasn’t very active.  But that didn’t seem to cause problems with the birth.

I was really focussed on tieing up lose strings with my two businesses when I was pregnant, so I didn’t do a great deal of preparation.  Then I suddenly realised that if I had wanted to do ‘Hypnobirthing’ that I hadn’t left myself with enough time to do it.  When I looked into it more deeply, I realised it probably wasn’t for me anyway, as due to my training I have heard too many hypno/meditation audios with ping pong music and sickly sweet voices (no disrespect to them, just not my cup of tea).  But I did need something, and having found a scottish guy called ** Andrew Johnson who creates hypnotherapy iphone apps and downloadable audios.  One of my mummy blogger mates introduced me to him on Twitter and I was lucky enough to get to beta test his pregnancy app.  I can therefore definitely recommend his Relax, Sleep and Pregnancy Apps/Audios as I slept brilliantly in the last 2 months of pregnancy (normally very difficult) and was very relaxed in the build up towards the birth.  Of course he has an unfair advantage with the scottish accent, which is naturally relaxing, and I can’t really give an in depth analysis of his hypnosis techniques as I’m pretty much asleep nowadays on his first couple of words.  This is pretty amazing, as I’ve never been the best sleeper, had loads of pain from SPD in my pregancy, and used to find it really difficult to sleep when I’d been woken frequently by a baby.

I was also really lucky to find a Doula a couple of months before the end of my pregnancy, which was cutting it a bit fine if baby had come early!  She also had a pool, which was great as I found them difficult to find.  I thoroughly recommend a Doula if you can afford one, or look for a Doula in training if you are short on cash.  This would be a great use of the cash that you (currently) get from the government near the end of your pregnancy.  If you live near me, then check out Herts Doulas.

Apart from that I didn’t do much preparation, not just because it was my second, but also because you can order pretty much anything online nowadays.  Some big shops have slow delivery times, but ebay and amazon are really quick.  You don’t even have to panic about buying nursery furniture to be honest, because you might end up with kids like mine who never use it (p.s. Ikea nursery furniture tends to be the most reasonably priced, everything else seems to be at a premium).  It really doesn’t need to cost loads to have a baby, you don’t even need to buy an expensive pram as slings are often preferred by little ones.

Here is my Hospital Bag list, which was also for use after the birth if at home:

  • Birthplan, Antibacterial wipes, Energy drink and snack, iphone speakers
  • For baby: 2 vests, 2 allinones, cardigan, hat, gloves, blanket, newborn nappies, cotton wool & wipes
  • For me: Face cleaner wipes, moisturiser, tinted moisturiser, shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush & paste, maternity pads & throw away knickers, 2 nightshirts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of trousers, 1 pair flat shoes, 1 bra and knickers, cardigan.

Here is the list of what I was told I needed in addition for a home birth:

  • Waterproof covers (from DIY store), torch, small table, kitchen roll, pampers changing mat (put under seat in loo to deliver placenta into), lots of old towels, bucket.  My Doula provided the pool and homeopathy kit.

This was my list of what to do when things kicked off and I either had regular contractions or my waters broke (I didn’t have to find babysitters for Monster/Angel boy as I was going to have a Doula with me and hubby was looking after the dogs and my son:

  1. Phone Husband if he is at work, plus Mums available to pick up Max from nursery (not necessary thankfully!)
  2. Phone Doula
  3. Start Filling Pool and put on immersion heater just in case.
  4. Phone Delivery Suite
  5. Cancel cleaner
  6. Make sure room warm and baby towel & clothes are on radiator to warm up.
  7. Put on music/tv

The biggest tip I can give you is to take care of yourself.  I know that you will feel guilty if there are things that you are not able to do, but it’s only a while, and it’s worth knowing that you did everything possible to keep yourself and your baby healthy.  Here is a link to my other blog on the birth, incase you fancy knowing how it turned out in comparison to birth no1, which was incredibly different.  Hope these tips are useful, good luck with everything!

** I have just become an affiliate for Andrew Johnson, mainly because I’m likely to recommend him lots and it seems daft not to!  However, I don’t expect it to be massively lucrative, as most of you will be buying iphone apps, rather than downloading the audios, and I’m pretty sure there is no way of tracking those ;o)