This weeks post comes to us from Janice Russell, who runs parenting disasters, you can find more information and blog post over at her website HERE.
We all expect to lose some sleep as parents, but what you may not expect is to lie awake even after your children are sleeping through the night (or at least most nights). Experiencing loss of sleep as a parent isn’t uncommon, but the solution may be easier than you think. Instead of reaching for a prescription sleep aid, try these strategies that get to the root cause of the issue.
Start with Your Mattress
Researchers have found that the quality of your sleep actually matters more than quantity when it comes to reducing risks of negative health outcomes like hypertension. The good news for parents is that you have more control over the quality of your sleep than the quantity, and the first line of attack is to limit disruptions.
While having a kid call out for you in the middle of the night is certainly a disruption, the primary disruption to your sleep likely comes from your own comfort (or discomfort). Many people sleep on an old mattress for way too long without even realizing it’s a problem. If it’s been awhile since you’ve bought a new mattress, one of the most important things is to know what kind of sleeper you are and how different mattresses work with certain sleeping styles. One example is how the mattress brand Purple impacts back and stomach sleepers. This mattress is designed so you sink into it slightly, but this is normal and your spine still stays in proper alignment, even on your back or stomach. Having this kind of knowledge before you shop is important for making the right choice.
Be Aware of Light Exposure
Along with comfort, another critical factor that affects sleep quality is your body’s natural sleep rhythm, or circadian rhythm. According to Reuters, research shows that being exposed to more light during the day, combined with less light exposure at night, is an easy way to keep this rhythm in balance. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, consider taking a morning walk or going to a park with your little one. If you work outside the home, try going for a walk on your lunch break to get some light exposure.
Once you’ve gotten your daily dose of Vitamin D through sunlight, The Cleveland Clinic explains why it’s just as important to limit exposure to light at night. This rule applies to all ages, which is why it’s a good idea to turn down the lights and turn off devices for both parents and kids before bedtime.
Enforce Bedtime - For Yourself
Lowering the light at night is just one of several things you can do in the evening to get your body and mind prepared for sleep. In many ways, the same type of routine that works for children is what adults should be doing, too, including taking time to unwind. Our adult minds need to transition from the day’s cares so we’re ready to relax - the same way our kids do. Try reading a book in the evening, or “trick” your mind into relaxation by listening to soothing sounds. Once you find a routine that’s right for you, be sure to keep it consistent.
Don’t Forget About Daytime
Getting enough light exposure isn’t the only thing you can do during the day to sleep better at night. For example, many of us rely on caffeine to get through the day, but having caffeine too late can keep you up at night. If you hit an afternoon slump, try taking a short nap if you can, or opt for an energizing activity. Believe it or not, getting some exercise can also help you sleep better.
Some of these things are easier said than done, like going out for a jog when you’re already feeling exhausted. Others are simply a matter of making small tweaks to your usual routine. We spend so much time focusing on our kids’ sleep habits. When you know what a difference it makes, it’s worth putting the same effort into getting the rest you need, too.
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