Before I was a mom, I used to go to bed late. Or early but I’d read until late. I could sleep until noon without feeling I’d lost a day. I had to set my alarm clock to get out of bed in the morning. Although I do not fall into the category of an early riser, I do not have a problem to get out of bed when the thing buzzes. I do not understand the concept of the snooze button. I prefer to set the alarm at the correct time and then get up. At least those 10 minutes of snooze are s12 tips pent in deep sleep and not dozing.
When I became a mom, the whole concept of time changed. There was no more ME time. Time was spent looking after a baby and making sure its every wish was catered for immediately. No alarm clock was used in the first months. I adapted to my son’s rythm, waking and sleeping when he did.
Once I started working again, I needed to get organised. I used the alarm clock once more in order to get up before my son, prepare breakfast, pump some milk, take a shower, get dressed, dress my son and be ready to go.
After my second son was born, the same scenario was played out all over again in the first few months. And my oldest son was the perfect alarm clock shouting Mammmmmaaaaaa at 7 o’clock sharp!
I now find myself not having to set the alarm. Before going to bed I know I have to get up at a certain time and I will miraculously wake up around that time. I find it mysterious and interesting how the body clock changes and adapts.
When my boys were sleeping over at their grandparents’, I was so much looking forward to sleeping in in the morning. Of course I woke up at 7 am sharp thinking I heard someone call me… But it was a pleasure to be able to turn around and go back to dreamland for an hour more.
Now that my kids are older, they set their own alarm clock. I’m a bit older too and realise that sleep has yet again changed for me as I seem to wake up more often during the night.
So here are a few tested tips that can help you get a better night’s sleep.
- Eat within an 8-10 hour timeframe
Studies show that limiting your food intake to an 8-10 hour period during the day can help your body sync with your natural circadian rhythm. This gives your body 12-14 hours to focus all its resources on restoring, repairing and resting. Similarly, eating earlier in the day is better.
- Limit stimulants
We’ve all heard this: coffee and alcohol before bed is not good. Coffee may prevent you from falling asleep and thus getting less of it. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but the quality of sleep will be lower as it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is the stage when people dream and it is knows as the most restorative.
- Avoid screens before bed
Screens are another stimulant and they screw with your circadian rhythm because they keep the light on and thus suppress melatonin production, the hormone that influences your body clock and helps you sleep. So no screens at least one hour before bedtime.
- Increase your intake of daylight
Spend time outside and get some daylight. We spend too much time indoors which messes with our body clock. If you have trouble sleeping, going outside every day will not only increase your vitamin D level but also regulate your circadian rhythm. If you can’t go outside, invest in an artificial bright-light device to make up for it.
- To nap or not to nap
Napping is good if you, right? Well that depends. If you can power nap regularly it is indeed beneficial. But long, irregular naps can confuse your internal clock. Studies have shown that naps of 30 minutes or less can enhance daytime brain function yet longer naps can negatively affect health and sleep quality. So nap wisely!
- Regular sleep schedule
Your body likes routine when it comes to sleeping and waking. It’s rhythm is on a loop, so it is best to have a regular sleep schedule. So instead of sleeping in on weekends, it may be better for your brain to stick to your weekday schedule and add a power nap in the afternoon.
- Take a melatonin supplement
Melatonin is a key sleep hormone telling your brain when it’s time to shut down and rest. It allows you to fall asleep faster and have a better sleep quality. It’s especially useful for those of us who travel and need to deal with different time zones. Most studies also did not show any side effects or withdrawal symptoms when using a supplement.
- Other healthy supplements?
If you cannot get melatonin (in some countries you need a prescription), try the below supplements (one at a time!). They are all known to aid sleep, improve relaxation
– Valerian root (I like this one)
– Magnesium (I use this one)
– Lavender (I use this one)
For more information on supplements, this portal is useful.
- Your bedroom
Taking a good look at your bedroom may help you sleep better. What is the noise level? Are there any artificial lights (alarm clock, electronic devices…)? How is the temperature (cool is better than warm)? How is the furniture arranged? Is it a clean, cozy and welcoming space? Is your bed fresh and made up? All of these things help you come to a place of calm and thus play a role in your sleep.
- Your bed
Is your bed comfortable? Or do you sleep better in hotels? When was the last time you changed your mattress? I used to work for a bedding company and although my childhood was spent on more or less ancient mattresses, I have since learned that trying which bed/mattress/pillow fits you best and replacing your mattress regularly (at least every 10 years) really improves your sleep and thus your health.
- Relaxed, clear head
We all know that unfinished business keeps spinning around in our head and keeps us from falling asleep. So make sure you empty your head before going to bed. Why not write a ‘brain-drain’ list by pouring everything onto a piece of paper? That way you won’t forget it and your brain can relax. Or try meditating, listening to some good-night stories (I love listening to stories on the Calm app). Taking a hot bath also calms you down.
Yes, a regular exercise routine helps you sleep better. Why? Well your body is in better shape, has released happy hormones, has worked out and thus will be a good kind of tired. Ideally practice a sport outdoors (like running) so you can combine it with our number 4 on this list. In order to find what suits you best try different sports and times of day to practice. Some people prefer mornings, others like to go on quick walks daily. Choose an option that can be easily added into your day for it to ‘stick’.
The bottom line is this:
Make sure you make sleep a priority!