Do you dream of skipping out of bed with a smile on your face? Or is getting a good night’s sleep a lost cause, relegated to the carefree BC (before children) days ?
Getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t need to be the privilege of a lucky few. We all need it, we can’t cope without it and we are of little use to our children or ourselves if we are lurching from one latte to another in order to function.
So, if you’re clutching your pillow in desperation, take heart, there’s help out there. Try these tried and tested tips to help you reclaim quality me-time in the form of restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Sounds heavenly? Keep reading.
Further reading: 10 Sleep supplements for the best night's sleep ever.
7 SECRETS FOR A DAMN GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Aim for quality of sleep, not quantity of sleep
If you’re seriously sleep deprived, or even feeling a little fuzzy, it could be that the quality of your sleep, not the quantity, is the problem. Factors like eating too soon before bed, light or noise disturbance and room temperature could be interrupting your sleep. Ear plugs & eye covers are a quick fix. Trading synthetic bedlinen for breathable, natural fibres is another. Aim for a cool, tranquil and dark space and minimise clutter. Your bedroom should be a haven, rather than a dumping ground or multi-media room.
Ban and embrace technology
We all do it. As soon as the children are tucked up, we dive onto our screens to send an an email, finally finish that report or check our Facebook status. Don’t! Have a cut-off time and be strict with yourself. Any sort of WiFi activity or blue light from computers, mobiles or TV screens sends a wake-up call to our brains and bodies. Exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. That said, there’s also some great insomnia apps that may aid your sleep.
Have a sleep routine
Sadly, there’s no-one able to read us a bedtime story or tuck us in, though audiobooks could be a substitute! Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t take time to create your own snuggle-up routine. Think warm bath with candles, followed by a pyjama shuffle around the house switching down all the lights. Sip a camomile tea on the sofa (in the semi dark of course) or opt for a few pages of light reading.
Do exercise (the right type)
Regular exercise is great for boosting our natural serotonin levels, which contributes to quality sleep. However, practising your Jane Fonda or Beyoncé booty moves within an hour of two of bedtime can have the opposite effect. Instead, a few gentle stretches or yoga is the way to go in your PJ’s. Regular meditation will calm mind and body. Remember, you’re giving your brain cues for what’s to come … think ‘good night’s sleep, good night’s sleep’.
Spend time outside every day
Our bodies have their own internal biological clock. In times gone by, our ancestors had to make full use of daylight to work, and not much could be done in the dark. Easier said than done for mums who have no choice but to catch-up while their children sleep. Reconnecting with the outside world can contribute to a good night’s sleep. Just put your body outside twice a day, preferably in the first minutes of waking up and as you wind down in the evening. You are sending a signal to your brain without even realising it.
Set your ‘retire and rise’ rules
Aim to keep to a regular bedtime. This includes weekends. Of course we’re tempted to stay up late and enjoy ‘adult time’ which is so rare for us single mums. But beware: It will play havoc with your body’s natural clock. Likewise, waking up around the same time each day is important for a good night’s sleep. You may even find you no longer need the alarm, or your beloved snooze button.
BONUS TIPS FOR A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
Consider your drinkies
If a soothing, warm drink is your snooze cue, make sure it’s non-caffeinated. Try switching to herbal tea or dandelion coffee – often it’s the warmth that we’re looking for! The caffeine kick can help us in the short term but don’t lean on it all day. Likewise, a nice glass of red may bring on a warm, fuzzy feeling but alcohol actually impairs sleep quality. Limiting your intake especially late at night will work wonders for your sweet dreams. And a hangover is certainly one less bedfellow to wake up with.
Monitor the midnight madness
If you suffer from insomnia, there is nothing wrong with getting out of bed to break the relentless tossing and turning. Ditch the bedside clock so you don’t keep torturing yourself with glow-in-the-dark numbers. Get up, make a warm drink and do something really, really boring. Like folding laundry or tidying a pantry shelf. Something utterly mundane and repetitive. Don’t be tempted to fire up the computer. I once darned a lace tablecloth at 3am. I know!! But it sent me back to bed so quickly and the hole didn’t irritate me at brekkie!