Sleep, sleep glorious sleep……Sleep that word, that basic human necessity that you took wholly for granted before children, if only you could have bottled it back in your teenage years and twenties ready for when you had children. That Sunday morning lie in that now eludes most of us is now some past forgotten memory.
When you have children your whole lifestyle changes and that includes a regular sleep pattern especially when they are babies and toddlers. It’s only when you don’t have enough of it that you realise just how important your sleep is. Especially when you have people dependant on you no matter how much of it you have had.
We spend nearly a third of our lives asleep (or we should have if we don’t have young children!) Sleep is as essential to our bodies as water or eating. It rests, heals and mends us physically and mentally. Sleep helps us process everything we have been through in the day and helps our brain act as a giant filing and filtering system as we sleep. It enables our brains to sift through and sort the important, the long-term memories and the bits we can forget. It even sometimes solves problems. When we sleep we destress and our bodies relax as our mind switches off and our blood pressure falls.
A lack of sleep can be hugely detrimental to us physically and mentally. Sleep is essential for our mental health and if we don’t get enough sleep then things can start to go wrong, it can have a knock-on effect on the rest of our body mentally and physically and it can make being a mum really hard.
A good night’s sleep improves our productivity and capacity to get things done. It can enhance the memory and improve concentration. We all know what it feels like when we have been awake with a poorly child all night and then have to get to work and function as normal. It’s often impossible and we then rely on coffee and our nerves to get us through which you can only sustain for a certain amount of time.
When you sleep less you eat more. Studies have shown that when people sleep less they eat more and they tend to be the more carb heavy foods that we crave. We also rely more on caffeine to get us through. Things that are fine but in moderation and shouldn’t be relied upon consistently.
If you sleep less than the recommended seven to eight hours a night you can be more at a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease or a stroke. It can also increase the risk of depression and anxiety.
Our modern lives and home environments don’t help either – being connected to our smartphones and the office 24/7 isn’t great for a good night’s sleep, that blue light from our devices interrupts our circadian rhythm that we rely on to regulate our sleep pattern and ultimately give us a good night’s sleep. Browsing our phones wakes the brain rather than making it sleepy.
Here are our Ten Top Tips for a better night’s sleep
- Avoid drinking any caffeinated drinks past midday. Alcohol can also keep you awake so be mindful of having any if you are having trouble sleeping.
- Make your bedroom environment right for you if it’s too light when you sleep think about a black out blind, check the temperature is right? Being too cold or hot can really affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Check your mattress is it too hard or soft, when did you last replace it? Make your bedroom a place you want to be.
- Switch off at night sooner – get your phone out of your bedroom. Don’t use it as an alarm clock. Think about a digital curfew or a digital detox.
- Use an alarm to wake up at the same time every day, and set your rhythm, even if you are tired. This can help adjust your body clock helping you sleep at night. Equally try and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Make your evening routine a switch off your mind and wind down. Don’t stay up till midnight just to get some me time – carve some out during the day. Here are some tips on having some me time.
- Clear your mind and have a relaxing hot bath or shower, meditating, deep breathing and visualisation can help. Relaxing is the key word, don’t feel guilty for taking some time for yourself!
- Plan your meal times and don’t eat your main meal too late in the evening, having a late dinner just before you go to bed can disrupt your digestive system and hormone level.
- Exercise is vital for tiring the body and mind and for destressing, make sure you get some fresh air during the day and try and do something to make your mind and muscles tired.
- Write it down before bed, all those thoughts in your mind that might keep you awake as you try to remember them.
- And if you can’t sleep? Calm your mind before bed. Is there something bothering you or stuck in your mind? If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes or so, then try getting up and doing something else to take your mind off but make sure that is relaxing. Pick up a book, listen to a podcast…
What are your top sleep tips? Let us know!