I usually talk about sleep tips for your kids, but it isn’t unusual for parents to have problems sleeping too. I know I have struggled many times in my life to get sleep, feeling frustrated because the kids are sleeping nicely, and my husband is snoring beside me. Now let’s talk about sleep tips for parents.
There are things we can do as parents, to improve our sleep, so that even when we’ve sorted out or kids sleep, we aren’t laying awake frustrated that we can’t join them in dreamland.
Why can parents struggle to sleep?
Often as new parents, we are so used to jumping up at every noise our baby makes – to feed them, change them, and help them sleep, that when they finally sleep through the night we can lie awake waiting for them to wake up again, or think we hear them signaling for us.
Newborns also wake up a lot around the clock, as do babies with sleep struggles. So this can put our circadian rhythms out of whack, or leave us overtired so that falling asleep and staying asleep can feel like a monumental task.
And to add to those reasons, all the weight that falls on you when you becoming a parent, and are in charge of a tiny little human, can heighten anxiety and make it harder to sleep.
So what can parents do to improve their sleep?
- Have a look at your sleep habits, to see if there are any choices you are making that might be impacting your ability to sleep. Are you going to bed at a reasonable time? Drinking caffeine too late in the day? These are just a few examples.
- Take 20 minutes to yourself each day, separate from your partner and your baby (and other kids if you have them). Do something that helps you feel good – whether it be reading, exercise or a relaxing bath. This is an important component of self-care. While you are doing it try not to worry about all the things that need to get done, they can be done later after your “me time”.
- If you find yourself worrying at bedtime about all the things you need to get done, put a notebook by your bed and make a list. You can also write down the different tasks you’ll take on and the ones you’ll assign to your partner. You can also separate them in to urgent and non-urgent. This will help you free those thoughts from your mind and help you feel like all those tasks are more manageable.
- Get exercise. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Choose what works for you. You can take your baby out for a stroll or you can go for a run, head to the gym or put on an exercise video at home. The important thing is to do something. Exercises releases endorphins, which are natural stress relievers.
- Think about whether you often play with your phone, look at your computer or watch TV too close to bedtime. All these emit blue light, which can delay the onset of Melatonin. Commit to no devices in your bedroom and commit to reading a book (not on the Kindle, IPad or phone) for 20/30 minutes before you go to sleep. IF you have a TV in the bedroom, remove it. It’ll be too tempting to fall back to old habits.
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol use. Both impact sleep. Even if you find that caffeine doesn’t keep you awake, it can still impact your sleep quality – preventing deep restorative sleep. Try to stop all caffeine use 6 hours before your bedtime and see if this help. Alcohol, some people find helps them sleep, but it can affect sleep quality too because it keeps the body in light sleep. It can also have you waking up and needing the toilet more frequently, which doesn’t help.
- If you don’t have one already, start a bedtime routine. Much like we suggest them for babies, they can be useful for adult. Your bedtime routine might be different from your baby’s though. You might want to do some yoga, meditation, and reading. Or you might want to light a scented candle. Decide what works for you but as you would with your baby, keep it consistent every night.
- If you find your bedtime and wake up time is all over the place, try resetting your body clock, by getting to bed at the same time every night and waking up for the day at a consistent time too. Getting out in the morning sun can also help do this too.
Being a parent isn’t easy, and it brings with it lots of stress, sleepless nights and so much love. But once your baby is sleeping through the night, it is so important to prioritize your sleep too. With the information above, I hope you can improve your sleep so that you are waking up in the morning refreshed and well-rested!