What keeps you up at night? If you’re a mum it could be many things. But there’s lots of stuff you can do to help you rest. Here are some of my sleep tips for busy mums.
Wind down early
When you go to bed at night knowing there’s a chance you’ll be woken by a small child, it helps to get in as many hours before midnight as possible. This way you’ll be better able to cope with the early morning hours when you’ll be on duty! When I was young, my mum used to say that “every hour you sleep before 12am is worth two hours after”. No doubt it’s one of those old wives’ tales designed to get kids into bed and out of parents’ hair but it stuck with me and applies here. Plan your day so you switch off anything over-stimulating about two hours before bedtime to allow your body chance to wind down and relax. Then it’ll be easier to get some sleep earlier.
Prepare for tomorrow, today
Help yourself to feel like you’re ahead of the game by choosing tomorrow’s outfit before you sleep. This way, if you are going out to work, you have your clothes ready and it is a no brainer of ‘what to wear’ in the morning when you might be rushing. You can do this for your children too so they know what they’ll put on. I also like to have all school bags packed and ready by the door so we have a swift exit at the start of the day. It keeps my mornings stress-free and allows me to relax the night before.
Sleep in a dark room
This is something I’m working on as our bedroom is very bright and our window dressings let all the light in. We’re planning a bedroom makeover later in the year when I will get something darker at the window but until then I’ve invested in a sleep mask to cover my eyes and help trick my brain into thinking it’s the middle of the night when in fact it’s 9.30pm. If you can, make sure that your room is dark when you sleep and if like me it isn’t, then get yourself a nice sleep mask.
Download your thoughts
Busy mums always have a million things going on in their head, and bedtime is when all our ‘to dos’ are remembered by our brains and pop back into our heads. I find that having a notebook and pen by the bed allows me to download my thoughts and get rid of the nagging mental activity that prevents me from dropping off.
Watch what you drink
A cheeky glass of wine in the evening may help you relax at the time but could disturb your sleep later in the night. Same for caffeine – a coffee or tea in the evening can keep you up. Switch to decaf for night-time drinks or try something like a hot chocolate – I like the Belgian Chocolate Options which is just 40 calories per mug (that’s 2 syns on Slimming World). You could also try a chamomile tea drunk half an hour before bed which has a calming quality.
Avoid long daytime naps
While a little ‘nana nap’ can provide a boost during the day if you are lagging, avoid slumping off for more than 30 minutes. It’s during the first third of our night-time sleep when we get the most restorative benefits, and deep sleep is related to the amount of time spent awake in the day. We’re not going to get much quality of deep sleep in our daytime nap and it can prevent you from getting stuck into your long night-time sleep, so keep napping to a minimum for better quality night sleep.
Blind manufacturer Hillarys is supporting UNESCO’s International Year of Light 2015 and recently held a #HillarysWeekOfSleep awareness campaign on Twitter to help promote better sleep. They have teamed up with wellness expert Dr Lauren Kita to produce some sleep tips of their own. You can read Dr Kita’s tips here.
The benefits of sleep
It’s obvious that, when you get enough sleep, you’re mentally alert and ready to face the day. But did you realise that lack of sleep could be making you fat? I can attest to this – when I have less than eight hours, I’m always hungrier the next day. I only noticed this when I started going to Slimming World because I was paying attention to the food I was consuming, but a lack of sleep means that ghrelin – the body’s hunger hormone – can take hold. Your body produces ghrelin in the stomach and the more ghrelin you produce, the more you want to eat. Studies have shown that subjects suffering from a lack of sleep had 15 per cent more ghrelin than well-rested subjects. Another benefit of getting plenty of shut-eye is that you’ll be less cranky the next day and therefore more patient with the kids…
By Nadine Hill