This is a Type-A Parent paid post to discuss sleep issues, and to share a new insomnia resource from the National Sleep Foundation.
Dan has often joked that if the average person needs 7 hours of sleep a night, I need 14. He’s right. I’m a total grump without enough rest.
I love sleep.
There’s nothing better than sliding into a cozy bed, pulling up the blankets, and drifting off into dreamland.
But sleep doesn’t come easily for me anymore. Not like it used to.
My sleep anxiety started when I was pregnant with Joshua. I would lay awake at night unable to shut my brain off, get comfortable, and fall asleep. Then I would wake up to pee (four times) and look at the clock and feel a wave of anxiety wash over me. Eventually I stopped looking at the clock when I got up and that helped immensely, but for a while knowing what time it was and how little time I had left to sleep before waking up to start the day made it impossible to fall asleep after those late-night bathroom breaks.
You’d think the sleeplessness of pregnancy would have prepared me for motherhood and all those nights spent rocking babies instead of hugging my pillow, but you’d be wrong.
You think you have trouble sleeping and then you have kids and suddenly you’re very, very aware of the importance of a good night’s rest and how good it can be for your mental health and overall well being.
Despite the many sleepless nights and the stress associated with a lack of quality sleep, I’m pretty committed to doing whatever I can to ensure that the sleep I DO get is restorative. I’ve adopted some tips and tricks along the way, gleaned from websites like sleepfoundation.org and conversations with friends, and now I’m sharing my top 5 tips for better sleep with you.
1. Pressure points.
Pressure will help soothe your senses.
Remember that relaxation thing where you imagine your body is weighted down with sandbags and then you slowly imagine them being lifted off one by one? That’s what this technique is about.
One of the things we’ve learned while Joshua has been in occupational therapy is that weight and pressure work magic on over active senses.
If your brain is running wild and you can’t get comfortable, arms and legs a’twitching, add a blanket to the bed or wear compression leggings to sleep. If you’re mentally aware enough, you can do the old sandbag trick. It’s weird, but it works.
2. Be scent-sational.
Aromatherapy is awesome for sleep.
At Mom 2.0, Suzanne and I won a room makeover from the National Sleep Foundation that included Pure Care aromatherapy pillow covers. I sleep with the smell of eucalyptus right next to my face and it’s amazing.
Use room sprays or other aromatherapy products in scents like eucalyptus, lavender, or sandalwood, all of which encourage relaxation, to make your bedroom a little more zen.
Practice ujjayi breathing.
Perhaps the single most helpful thing I’ve ever done to help myself fall asleep is practice ujjayi breathing. Focusing on the sound of my breath as it goes in and out calms my mind like nothing else can.
4. Clear the clutter.
Decluttering your bedroom of the stuff crowding the space will have the effect of clearing your mental space.
This is the HARDEST tip for me to put into practice. Our bedroom is the dumping ground for everything in our house that doesn’t have a place. We’re working to clear the clutter. It’s definitely a work in progress.
5. Make the bed.
Mama always makes her bed. Every day, even if it’s right before she climbs in it. I have always laughed at her for this. She’s going to bed but she’s making it first?!?
Well, guess what. She was right and I’m not laughing.
I may not make my bed when I wake up in the morning but before I can go to sleep I have to straighten and smooth the sheets. There’s no relaxing if it feels like the sheets are twisting around my legs threatening to strangle my knees.
As it turns out, mama really did know best.
Be sure to check out a new resource from the National Sleep Foundation at sleepfoundation.org/insomnia – a good place to start if you think you have insomnia or aren’t sleeping. The National Sleep Foundation is your trusted resource for everything sleep – understanding how sleep works & why it’s important, learning healthy habits, creating a relaxing bedroom & bedtime routine, & finding solutions to your sleep issues.