You likely know that it’s developmentally normal for your baby not to sleep through the night; frequent waking to eat helps them grow and develop in healthy ways.
At the same time, new babies can be exhausting for the parents who are living with sleep deprivation! As you’ve likely noticed, the quality and quantity of your sleep can affect your entire life. Getting adequate, rest is essential to your health and well-being; and it adds to your ability to be a great parent.
The following are five helpful tips for improving adult sleep:
- Avoid Caffeine Later in the Day. No matter how helpful it can feel when you’re dragging, it’s important to remember that caffeine stays in your bloodstream between six and fourteen hours! That after-dinner cup of coffee is still hanging around in your system past midnight, which can obviously make it hard to sleep soundly. People are affected differently by caffeine in various forms – coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, etc – so pay attention to how you are affected.
- Make Exercise a Part of Your Day. Moderate, regular exercise can reduce insomnia and improve the quality of sleep. The key to using exercise to improve sleep is to maintain a regular pattern: thirty to forty-five minutes of moderate aerobic exercise three to five times a week. Don’t have time to exercise? Involve your baby in your routine. Take baby for walks or gentle jogs (once you have your doctor’s permission to do so). The fresh air will do you both good!
- Create a Peaceful Sleeping Environment. Take a good look at your bedroom and make sure that it is conducive to healthy sleep. Your bed, pillow, and bedding should be comfortable for you. The temperature shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. Some people sleep better in perfect silence, while others prefer some background white noise of some sort. Cover your windows if you need complete darkness or feel free to use a night light if a soft glow helps you sleep better. Keep your baby close enough that you don’t need to jar yourself awake with bright lights or climbing stairways.
- Worry Less About Your Sleep. I know that this is easier said than done but putting pressure on yourself to get a good night’s rest is counter-productive. To avoid that horrible feeling of lying in bed worrying about not being able to fall asleep, turn your clock away from your bed and gently move your thoughts to calmer topics. Pray or practice meditation and deep breathing. Give yourself permission to rest and sleep instead of feeling like you should be checking off items on your to do list.
- Establish Your Own Bedtime Routine. You likely have implemented a bedtime routine for your children, and you can use the same concepts for your own peaceful bedtime routine. It could include reading, listening to music, a bath, or sitting down for a cup of tea. Try to avoid rushing around cleaning, answering emails, or watching an intense show right before bed.
- Limit Screen Time. Blue light from screens can affect sleep quality. Turn your screens off with ample time before bed and replace them with books or other non-screen activities that help you relax.
These strategies can improve your quality of sleep.
Don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor if you feel like you may have medical concerns that are inhibiting your ability to rest well. Don’t forget to take the time for you in this area because a well-rested parent is a positive thing for the whole family.
You can find more adult sleep tips on the author’s blog.