It’s been seven and a half years since I had my first baby. I spent a lot of those early years feeling like I was walking through a dense fog! That awful feeling of the “baby alarm” going off at 6am, waking up drained and exhausted with a WHOLE day of entertaining ahead; it often felt like an insurmountable task. So, I decided I needed to change my quality of sleep for the better.
The way I look at it, getting a good night’s sleep as a parent is like cramming. We don’t have the luxury of unlimited hours in bed, so it’s about making sure that those we do spend there are the most productive possible. Without good quality sleep it can be very diffiult to summon up the endless amount of energy that run-around parenting requires, but over the years I’ve done my research, and I think I now have the art of sleep cramming down! Here are my top tips.
1. Ensure that your brain isn’t too busy. During our sleep time our brain tries to process, and make sense of, everything that is going on in our hectic lives. If too much is going on, we dream more, and therefore experience less deep, resotorative sleep. Write a check list, and tick off jobs one at a time during the day. Have a “power hour” where you plough through some house work so that you’re able to tick at least some of your jobs off the list. Try to focus on what you are doing as much as possible so that you are able to complete tasks quicker. Obviously, this is hard with small children around, but even just eliminating the background noise of the TV, or turning off your phone, can help to speed things up and aid your brain in remaining clear.
2. Actively Calm your mind. Meditate during the day. The more relaxed your mind, the better you will sleep. Even finding 5 minutes a day just to breath or focus on your breathing makes the world of difference. Headspace is a great App for simple, guided meditation. Alternatively, simply breath in for 7 counts and out for 11, 10-20 times. Imagine yourself somewhere peaceful and relaxed, and focus on your breath.
3. Make sure your environment’s right for a good night’s sleep. The bedroom should be slightly cool, fresh sheets make a difference, as does making sure your bedroom is not too cluttered. Some lavendar oil on the pillow can be really helpful. A good bath with epsom salts will calm any tired muscles and calm your body, ready for bed.
4. Switch off screens and social media half an hour before bedtime. It’s easy to spend your last minutes awake catching up on celebrity gossip on instagram, but in reality the pictures, stories and colour are stimulating your mind rather than calming it. Challenge yourself to switch off your phone by 9pm!
5. Take a sleep inducing snack or supplement for a better night’s sleep. Small amounts of certain foods are know to be beneficial at bedtime: oatcakes, turkey and a good old glass of milk all have sleep inducing properties. No big meals at bedtime though, as this will keep your digestive system working. Calcium and magnesium supplements are fantastic for aiding sleep, but any alcohol with interrupt your sleep quality.
6. The more do, the more tired you will feel. SLOW. DOWN. Make sure you take a little piece of time in the day to do something relaxing, just for you: read a book, listen to some music. The more burnt out you are the more tired you will feel. The truth of the matter is, the To Do List of life will never be done, be kind to yourself and don’t expect too much all at once.
7. Make sure your kids are as likely to sleep as possible! Obviously, we cannot control the sleeping patterns of our children 100%, but we can certainly do things to help. Make sure that they are taking on plenty of food and water in the day so that they don’t get hungry. Ensure that they have a good sleeping environment (following the advice above) and a consistent bedtime routine: bath, book, bed. It’s important they are getting enough daily exercise to tire them out, but also that they are not going to bed late, and therefore becoming overtired. Also, good quality black out blinds are a life saver. You can take a Gro Blind anywhere and stick it up at your child’s window to block out even the tinniest bit of light from the room. In my experience children are very light sensitive and these can make the world of difference!
All of this advice is also essential to helping you enjoy relaxed, rested family holidays together. Please visit www.bestchildfriendlyholidays.co.uk. We’ve found your best child friendly holiday, all you need to do is book! Happy sleeping!