What is Sleep Hygiene?
Sleep hygiene simply means good sleep habits. It means doing the same set of things every day to make sure that whatever sleep you get is restful, restorative and refreshing.
This post is about you, Mama.
Fact: New mothers with little babies don’t get much sleep.
Tough love: Welcome to motherhood. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, and everyone goes through it.
Instead of dwelling in negativity and how exhausted you are (let’s be honest, we’ve all done our fair share) let’s focus on what we can do to help improve the sleep that you do get.
Tips for Sleep Hygiene
- Create a basic sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. It can vary depending on how the baby slept the night before, but it should be within an hour each day.
- Only lay in bed when you’re tired (most moms have no problem with this!). If you’re laying in bed for 20 minutes and can’t fall asleep, get up and leave your room. Do a quiet, nonstimulating activity, like reading or taking a warm bath. Don’t check Instagram or watch TV – that will keep your brain awake for longer.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol 4 hours before bed. Even if they don’t stop you from falling asleep, they will interfere with the quality of your sleep, making it less restful and restorative.
- Only use your bed for sleeping. Don’t watch TV or scroll through social media on your phone while you’re in bed. You want your brain to associate your bed with sleep. Adding in other activities detracts from that association.
- Create a bedtime routine for yourself. Routines are not just for babies! After a few weeks of the same routine right before bed, your body will begin to unwind naturally as you move through your routine. Bath, meditation, reading, yoga, hot tea. Whatever works for you and nourishes your spirit for 15 minutes before bed. You deserve it!
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool. Make sure that there are no lights from chargers, appliances or anything blinking. The smallest amount of light can decrease melatonin levels, keeping you awake.
- During the day, get some sunlight! Studies show that when we get sunlight during the day, we sleep better at night.
- Avoid discussing stressful topics before bed. Talk about them during the day, when your brain has time to process them. There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning because you’re worked up about an upsetting conversation you’ve had.
- Get moving! 20 minutes of brisk movement every day will improve both your mood and your sleep. Take the baby for a walk in the carriage or lay him down on a blanket while you do yoga on the living room floor. Move your body!
- Use what you need to help you sleep. Try blackout curtains, a sleep mask, earplugs or a white noise machine. Some people swear by humidifiers, others love white noise. Find what works for you.
It’s a really good idea to sleep when the baby sleeps. You’ve heard this before – but I really mean it. I know that in your head, baby sleeping = freedom to GET STUFF DONE!
Wash the dishes, clean the kitchen, throw in some laundry or mindlessly scroll through Instagram… but honestly. Your body needs sleep more than anything. And now, when your baby is sleeping, is the time for you to get it.
How can you sleep during the only time you have to get stuff done?
I’ll tell you how.
This time period in your life is very short – just a few months in the greater scheme of things. Dinner can wait. Frozen pizza can feed a family. The house does not need to be clean. It doesn’t! You need to take care of yourself first. You have to let go and focus on yourself and the baby. That’s it.
You can do this, Mama. Build up as many good sleep habits as you can, for you as well as your baby. Slowly, over time, things will improve.