Sleep. It’s something we all need and none of us get enough of. At my baby shower, I was prepped by friends for poopy diapers, mommy groups, and breastfeeding. I was told I wouldn’t sleep much in the first few months. When they aren’t eating, they are teething. When they aren’t teething, they are growing. When none of those things are happening, it’s cold and flu season and the reason for lack of sleep is a complete mystery.
You mean you STILL can’t sleep?
What I wasn’t prepared for was the sleep I wouldn’t get when I no longer had babies waking me up at night. I wasn’t ready to be a person who just couldn’t sleep. Yet for many months following the infant stage of my third daughter, I kept waking up exhausted and unsure of why. I decided to set out on a quest of non-pharmaceutical remedies that would help me achieve my much-needed slumber, and I am here to share a few that have made my snooze stretches a little steadier.
1. Tidy people need tidy bedrooms
This one may seem obvious, but for years I have let my bedroom be the “catch-all” for misplaced and giveaway items, as well as full baskets of laundry. I thought that as long as our main living space was clean, that would be enough. After all, I’m barely conscious during the time I spend in my bedroom, right? What does it matter?
Wrong. If you’re having trouble sleeping, start with the space you spend the longest stretch of consecutive hours. For me, this meant donating unused items and keeping the space next to my bed clean, free of old water (and let’s be honest, wine) glasses, and keeping my dresser free of clutter when I went to bed. Now, don’t get me wrong: it DOES get messy, especially on a morning when I am trying to get myself halfway presentable before getting out the door. That being said, I feel more rested closing my eyes in a tidy room that smells good, is free of trash, and won’t leave me tripping and cursing the next morning on the way to my first cup of coffee.
2. Keep a list
If you’re anything like me and the words “anxious” or “planner” describe you, you might spend some of those waking hours fretting about what the next day holds. A simple solution? Keep a pen and paper at your bedside. There’s something really cathartic about writing out worries, concerns, and tasks as opposed to setting an alarm on my phone, and I am less tempted to peruse social media when I’m finished. On that note…
3. Do Not Disturb
Technology is wonderful! I am willing to bet that most people reading this post are doing so on a handheld device of some sort, maybe even at 2am. One of the things I recommend most, though, is setting a cutoff time for social media, texting, calls, and phones in general. I am a very light sleeper and wake to the slightest vibration of a text message, so the Do Not Disturb feature on my phone has been a lifesaver for me. Furthermore, limiting my screen time after a certain time has really helped my marriage and allowed me to wind down for bed in brain-friendly ways like reading a book, journaling, or talking to my spouse.
4. Establish a comforting bedtime routine
We are creatures of habit, so this one is big. When we begin engaging in habits at certain times throughout the day, our bodies begin to expect it. In my case, getting out of bed is always followed by a cup or two of coffee. My baby’s afternoon nap has my kids looking to me for a snack and shows, and the scent of my Trader Joe’s lavender hand lotion has me yawning by 10pm. For me, bedtime is a simple but enjoyable routine that I look forward to every night so that I am not continually putting it off for another my favorite show. It involves comfy pjs that I am excited to put on, yummy-smelling hand-lotion and some lavender essential oil, a dim nightlight, and a relaxing skincare regimen.
5. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake before bed
I think that the caffeine one here is obvious… but alcohol? I enjoy a pre-bedtime glass of red wine as much as the next gal, but I did notice a significant difference in my frequency of wakeups on nights I have one versus nights I abstain. After paying close enough attention, I realized that wine affects me more than beer, and fruity mixed drinks more than anything! For me, the alcohol gets me to sleep quickly but the sugar wakes me up a few hours later. I have noticed that if I want a really solid night’s sleep, it’s probably best to stick with herbal tea or water before bed.
Here’s to hoping these tips help you achieve the slumber you may be lacking. Sweet dreams, mommas!