Some people keep a sleep diary. This is how mine would go:
It’s has been approximately 2,555 nights since my last decent sleep. Occasionally, my captors give me some relief and allow me a night without interruption, but it only serves as false hope. If I ever get a chance to escape, I can’t sleep 4am. My body has been ruthlessly trained to crave more sleep and yet be unable to gain it. Sometimes the youngest captor, who is by far the master at sleep interruption, will allow me nights and nights of sleep. When that happens, the eldest captor (who taught the younger all he knows) will wake with a variety of complaints – nightmares, a need for water, growing pains. They have cleverly worked together to make sure that I will never sleep a full night again…
Maybe I am exaggerating (maybe I’m not) but a thing that was once taken for granted is now a VERY BIG DEAL. And is for every mother of young children I know. How do we get more sleep? And when sleep is in short supply, how do we improve its quality?
There are a few things you can do to up your chances of a good quality sleep.
- Have a regular night-time routine. Body clocks are sensitive things. Going to sleep and waking at the same time each night and day helps you settle into sleep more quickly. Now just let your baby know that.
- Ban technology from the bedroom. The blue-light that emits from our screens inhibits the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Aside from the science of it all, it’s far too easy to spend hours scrolling through various feeds and not sleeping.
- Capture and let go of the 3AM worries. Have a notepad beside the bed to capture the 3AM worries/ideas/things that keep you up at night. Once you have released them to a page you can worry about them (later) in the morning.
- Use a relaxation exercise. If you just can’t get to sleep, try tensing and releasing each muscle in your body, from your toes up to your head. Concentrate on the sensation of release. You might even fall asleep by the time you get to your knees.
- Keep a glass of water by the bed. Particularly if you are breast feeding, you need to keep well hydrated. And no-one wants to get up if they don’t have to.
- Think positively about the sleep you will be getting. I remember those nights – when I’d just finish feeding the baby and I’d shuffle back into bed, calculating exactly how much sleep I might be getting before the next session. And being so depressed about it that it hardly seemed worth the effort of shutting my eyes. Try not to fall into that trap. Try to be as positive as you can about the sleep windows you do get.
- Get a comfortable and supportive mattress. Let’s be honest. If your mattress and pillows are uncomfortable the other stuff won’t make much difference.
- Even if you aren’t into co-sleeping, there will be a time when your kids come into your bed. They might be unwell, they might be up a bit on the early side (like 4am), it might be Christmas morning and they are way too excited to sleep or they might just need an extra cuddle. The fact is that once you have kids, you need more real estate in the bedding arena.
- If you are sharing a bed with your partner, they are also likely to be sleep deprived. Two sleep deprived people sharing a bed is hardly a recipe for a content and happy house-hold. A bed that can cater for both of your sleeping styles and help you both get good quality sleep is a great investment.
- You need a mattress that will help you get back to sleep as quickly a possible when sleep windows are narrow. You don’t want to be wriggling around trying to find the (only) comfy spot.
- Back ache is very common in mums. Pregnancy itself is no joke on the lower back and then it’s followed up by spending hours in one position when feeding your baby. Even once bubba is weaned, carrying them everywhere adds further strain. A mattress that supports your poor, abused back is essential for new parents. You certainly don’t want your mattress excaserbating any existing back issues (which can happen with an older mattress). SleepMaker have some more tips on managing back pain and how a supportive mattress can help here.
- Sleep deprivation might be something mums joke about but it’s no laughing matter. You know what it’s like when you don’t have enough sleep. When you cry at the drop of a hat. When everything seems overwhelming. When you feel like you would give your right arm for just one night’s decent sleep. When you feel like you aren’t quite sure if you are going to make it. I really think that anything that can alleviate that feeling is worth investing in.
If you are in the market for a new mattress, SleepMaker has a great tool to help you select your perfect bed. It’s a very simple, graphic-based, online questionnaire that gives you a few options to consider and points you in the right direction of where to buy. Large purchases in our household are always preceded by research. If it’s the same around your place, the SleepMaker website and mattress selector is an excellent place to start your mattress search. And, if you are about to welcome a little bundle of joy into your life, really think about whether your existing mattress is going to support you through it.
this post is sponsored by SleepMaker