Whether we have kids or not, it doesn't matter: A good night's sleep is key. It's amazing how well we feel after getting a good night's sleep. As soon as that alarm clock goes off, our eyes open and we're ready for whatever the day has in store for us! Sleep not only feels nice, but it's vital for our body's health. Not being able to get at least six hours of sleep a night in can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of certain diseases. And we all know how much harder it is for parents to sleep when they have a newborn or little kids running around.
To help moms of all levels get the good night's sleep they all deserve, here are 10 new things to try in case the classic suggestions aren't working (putting a pillow between your knees, sleeping in a completely dark room, avoiding liquids close to bedtime...).We also added 10 things to stop doing if all those efforts to sleep better aren't working.
After all, the better sleep we have through the night, the more refreshed we'll be, which in turn, helps us become more effective women and moms. So fluff those pillows and turn your phone on silent — it's time for some Z's.
Let's start with the 10 tricks mom should consider trying...
20 Get Out Of Bed And Move Around!
I bet you weren't expecting us to tell you to avoid sleep if you were trying to fall asleep! The thing is, sometimes when we're trying to fall asleep, it only makes us more restless. This is when those 2am thoughts come about, making us more alert and anxious than before. The longer we lay there, the more uncomfortable we become. You toss and turn, hoping you'll finally find a comfortable position, but it's probably not going to happen. Instead, get up and do something! Go into another room of the house and do a small activity, like reading or coloring. Distract your mind again and tire yourself out until you begin to doze off.
19 ASMR Apps
I'm not sure how long autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) has been around, but it's making the rounds online. ASMR is essentially sensory experiences that have the ability to relax you. There are a ton of videos on YouTube showcasing people whispering, chewing softly, moving their hands... but now there are even apps showing the same kinds of things. If you have issues falling asleep, and enjoy falling asleep to sounds or some kind of background noise, check out some free ASMR apps. It sounds a tad... out-of-the-box, but you never know until you try it.
18 Squeeze Those Muscles
If you've done acupuncture or have had a few massages in your day, this sleeping technique may be familiar to you. But I'm here to remind you of its benefits. According to Bustle, relaxing your muscles in bed is a great way to get, well, relaxed all over. As the article says, hop into bed and focus on your feet. Yes, your feet. "Squeeze your toes tight, then release. Then move up to your calves, then your thighs, your butt, your hands, and so on." After you've put your muscles through a little test, try breathing steadily until you're ready to doze off. If you're still awake after doing one round, keep on trying until you tire yourself out.
17 Slip On Some Socks
If you're an avid Hallmark movie watcher like I am, then you would know that EVERY character seems to have matching pajamas. In the real world though, most moms fall asleep in whatever they have lying around the house. Whatever's clean without leftover food stains on it is the way to go. However, if you have problems sleeping, try slipping on some socks. However, according to a Swiss study, "warm feet and hands were the best predictors of rapid sleep onset." Bustle explains "Shifting [circulation] flow from your core to your extremities cools down your body, working in concert with melatonin."
16 Box Breathing
If you're not into yoga or meditation, then you're probably wondering what all this "deep breathing" is about. Does it really work? Well, when done right, deep breathing has the amazing capability of relaxing you through and through. How Sleep Works explains practicing box breathing for 10-15 minutes can make all the difference in your state of mind. To do so, take a deep breath in and hold it for a count of four. Release that breath for the same amount of time and repeat until you're close to sleep. If focusing on breath is hard for you, try inhaling through your left nostril (holding your right), and exhaling through your right (while holding your left).
15 Have Someone Stay The Night To Help
I know some of you are going to shake your heads at this, but hear me out. If you have a mom, a friend, or a sibling who stays over often, think about the possibility of them taking a nightshift. There are a few moms out there who have their own moms come over a few times a week to take the night shift so she can get some sleep. This can definitely work well if you have some night owls in the family, or if someone gets home from work late and doesn't go to sleep right away. Having someone stay the night to watch over your child will help you get some sleep without overthinking everything. You can finally get a solid eight hours in!
14 Get Rid Of The Clock
I know "get rid of your clock" gives a lot of people anxiety, but I don't mean it literally. Although time is a manmade thing, we need it to keep a schedule — especially as a busy mom. However, if you're having trouble sleeping, having your phone or alarm clock right next to your bed could hinder your sleep. While laying restless, many women tend to check the time from time to time to see how much sleep they're not getting. This, of course, only makes us more restless! Put your phone or clock on the floor or somewhere that's not in direct eye contact. Putting it under the bed or turned away from you could help you rest a little easier.
13 Plan Out Your Dreams
My college roommate was in a long distance relationship for most of college. Before bed, she and her boyfriend would call each other and "plan" their dreams. I thought this was extremely weird, with no validity to it; however, it kind of works. They would tell each other what they wanted to dream about, where they would meet in dreamland, and G-rated things they would do. By closing her eyes and essentially telling herself a dream story of her and her man, it helped her fall asleep quicker. Plus, people tend to dream about whatever it is they fall asleep thinking about. So this kind of works!
12 Think Backwards
I used to have major anxiety in my younger years and had trouble sleeping because of it. My therapist told me to try recounting my entire day while I was laying in bed. Thinking of each and every thing I did that day, who I spoke to, how I felt, and what I ate, took my mind off everything else. It also reminded me of the full day I just had, which was kind of relaxing. If this doesn't work for you, though, you can try doing the same thing but in reverse. Instead of recalling everything you did when you woke up, think about everything you did in reverse order.
11 Do Headstands
If you're into yoga, you might understand this idea more so than non-yogis. Nevertheless, if you're an agile being who knows how to do headstands or handstands, why not give this a try? You don't have anything to lose! How Sleep Works explains "headstands circulate refreshed [energy] to the master glands in our brain - hypothalamus and pituitary, which control all the other glands in our body. It also cleanses and detoxifies the adrenal glands, making us think positive and warding off depressive thoughts." The thought alone is mindblowing, but if you're truly having trouble sleeping, trying this out until you're good at it could be kind of fun. You can always do it against a wall too until you master it.
And here are the 10 things a sleep-deprived mom should avoid at all costs...
10 The Phone Light
Now that we've discussed a few things you can try to fall asleep, let's talk about 10 things we should stay away from.
We hear quite often how dangerous our cell phones can actually be. So many of us rely on those little handheld devices for boredom or security, but that small backlight is actually keeping us awake. I know I sometimes watch Netflix on my phone before bed, or fall asleep while scrolling through Pinterest, but the lights from our phones are bright enough to keep our mind thinking it's "awake" time. I know many of us rely on our phones as an alarm clock, but put your phone in a bedside drawer or on the floor to keep the notification light from keeping you up.
9 More Than One Cup Of Coffee
Some people are coffee drinkers while others are tea drinkers. Whatever kind of drinker you are though, don't have more than one caffeinated beverage too close to bedtime. It's just going to keep you wired, making it harder for you to fall asleep. Depending on your coffee or tea dependency, sometimes these drinks won't affect you. But if you're not used to drinking these warm beverages, it's best to pass. If you absolutely need one of these drinks, have one or two cups in the morning but steer clear before bedtime. The same goes for those sugary sodas and sport drinks!
8 Cold Water
I've never heard this before, but apparently, there are people who splash their face with cold water before bed. It's one thing to clean your face before hopping off to a cozy bed, but to splash cool water on your face could actually be keeping you up. Wake Fit explains, "It actually helps in stimulating the body, makes one keep awake, and increases alertness. The best thing is to wash your face with warm water in the evening to aid in good sleep."
Bypassing the cold water, try washing your face with warm water instead. Better yet, take a relaxing warm shower/bath before bed to really prepare the body.
7 Lemon Love
I'm obsessed with lemons. I love lemon sauces, ice cream... I put lemons in my water... However, lemons aren't just added for taste, they're added for their energizing properties. While some people drink warm water with lemon to prep their digestive system before bed, this could actually be keeping them up. Foods for Better Health says, "The negatively charged ions found in lemons will increase energy levels and work as a mood booster. Fresh lemon water helps to oxygenate the body, which will also increase energy levels." Depending on how often you add lemons to your food or drink, this could be that one, unknown ingredient that's keeping you awake at night.
6 Turn On (Or Turn Off) The TV
Falling asleep is a funny thing because millions of people fall asleep differently. Some people love falling asleep watching something on TV, while others simply can't sleep unless the room is blacked out. Nevertheless, it's smart to try either one if you're having trouble doing so. I remember thinking I'd never be able to sleep without some kind of white noise, but once I tried it out, I woke up feeling much more rested. I didn't wake up due to the show's laughter, I never rolled over on top of the remote — reminding me to turn it down... I simply slept without any distractions. So, depending on the kind of environment you sleep in, try doing the opposite of what's normal for you to see if it works.
5 Eating Red Meat Too Close To Bedtime
In general, I think it's wise not to eat anything too close to bedtime. However, if you eat dinner later than others due to work or a busy schedule, try to stay away from red meat. "A big steak dinner, for example, takes a lot of digesting, and your body isn't meant to be working that hard while it's sleeping," Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., M.P.H tells the Huffington Post. "Asking your body to process a protein-heavy, late-night meal is asking to watch the clock." If you need to eat late night dinners, stick to clean whole foods instead; foods that are easy on the body.
4 Midnight Snacks
When you're a mom who's breastfeeding throughout the night or have children with sleeping issues, you'll do what you gotta do to make it through the dark hours. If you need to stay up, you'll have a few snacks here and there, but do so in a healthy way. Just like eating lemons or steak is going to keep you up at night, don't do anything too fancy which require your undivided attention; that's only going to keep you more awake. Back in the pre-kid era, eating a full pizza to yourself at midnight was no big deal. Heck, you might have put yourself in a food coma doing so. But for whatever reason, things are different in a kid-filled life. Pass on the midnight snacks and stick to water.
3 Letting The Pet Bunk With You
This is going to be hard to say, but... if you have a beloved pet who sleeps with you, it's time to try sleeping without them. Dogs and cats have their own movements, waking you if they dream, get up, want to cuddle, or need to relieve themselves. Cage training and getting them to sleep comfortably without your presence is the way to go. This way, a pet will know that you're sleeping and cannot be bothered. I know we all love our pets and the idea of kicking them out of your bed sounds rude, but this will leave more space in the bed for you and fewer distractions. This is especially true if you have your partner or kids next to you in bed, too. Too many people in one bed equal zero sleep!
2 Sleeping In A Warm Environment
I always thought I fell asleep better in warmer environments, but after trying to sleep in a cold room, science was correct: I did sleep better! The Sleep Judge explains, "Part of why sleeping in a cold room is better is due to how it initiates rest. The ideal sleeping temperature falls anywhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and as you sleep your body temperature lowers naturally. Introducing your body to a cooler environment helps stimulate sleep and allows you to cycle naturally through the sleep stages." And if you think you'll be too cold to focus on sleeping, simply bundle up, grab an extra blanket and try it before you knock it.
1 Yes To Yoga
Yoga is relaxing for a lot of people. It's a way to gain energy and stay toned without all the heavy weights. There are so many moves you can try that can affect different areas of the body, and it can feel like a touchdown when you finally accomplish something new. However, if you're trying to find ways to fall asleep, it's better to keep yoga in the mornings. Yoga is an energizing workout — one that wakes the body up. Now, there are a few yoga teachers who teach a "pre-sleep" class on YouTube, but if you notice, most of them are done in bed, doing very light stretches. Doing an intense 30-minute practice is only going to wake you up and keep you up.