For exhausted moms, a full night’s sleep can feel so far out of reach. Whether you’re in the season of midnight feedings, your kids still wake up before the sun rises, or you lay awake for hours worrying about your family, I’m sure we can all agree that we don’t get nearly enough sleep. Don’t worry mama, I’ve got some sleep hacks that can help you get a better night’s rest.
There’s this meme circulating around on social media about how it took 4 days to finally get 8 hours of sleep. Have you seen that one? At first, I laughed because it’s funny. Then I thought, sh*t, that’s not too far off from the truth and that’s actually quite scary.
If you’re a busy mom with a mile-long to-do list, you may think long nights and less sleep are necessary sacrifices. I did too, once upon a time. But, that kind of lifestyle can be detrimental to your health. Trust me, I know from experience. If you keep burning that midnight oil, eventually you’re going to burn out.
Mama, I know you’ve got a lot of work to do and that the house needs to be cleaned and that those late hours are some of the only hours you get to yourself, but none of these things are more important than sleep.
How important is sleep?
Sleep is an essential part of self-care. Adequate sleep is crucial to maintaining your physical and mental health.
According to the American Sleep Association, most Americans don’t take sleep seriously. The ASA insists that sleep is so important, it can literally save your life. In order for your body and your mind to function properly and stay healthy, you need sleep.
Long-term effects of lack of sleep include:
- Forgetfulness and lack of concentration
- Irritability and mood swings
- High blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke
- Weight gain
- Weakened immune system
I don’t know about you, but to me, this all sounds pretty terrible. If you want to take care of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, you need to get some decent sleep.
Okay, let’s be real. It’s not always going to be possible to get a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
In fact, that’s pretty much never going to happen when you’re a new mom. And you’ll have plenty of nightly interruptions throughout the toddler years, too. Heck, even when your kids are old enough to bathe and dress themselves for bed, you’ll still have some sleepless nights.
But, no matter the obstacle, you should always try your best to prioritize sleep.
If you’re ready to get a better night’s rest, try some of these simple yet effective sleep hacks.
Sleep Hacks for Exhausted Moms
1. Create a bedtime routine and stick to it.
If you aren’t the “routine” type, just hear me out. Having a bedtime routine makes things so much easier for the whole family. Plus, a consistent bedtime routine helps you wind down after a busy day and signals to the body that it’s soon time for sleep, promoting better rest.
We didn’t have a bedtime routine for the first two years of my first-born’s life, and we absolutely dreaded bedtime every single night. It was a constant battle and by the time we finally got her down, we had little of the evening left to ourselves. This would lead to us staying up later and ultimately leaving us even more exhausted.
Now our kids’ bedtime routine takes 30-45 minutes every time, it’s pleasant, and we have plenty of the evening left to focus on our own bedtime routines.
(If you need help with your kids’ bedtime routines and sleep, I recommend checking out Little Z Sleep. I binged the podcast when I needed help and the advice I received worked wonders for us.)
Yup, that’s right. You should have a bedtime routine too. For example, your routine could include skincare, a cup of tea, and a few chapters of a book before calling it a night. What your bedtime routine looks like will vary depending upon your needs.
2. Find a soothing activity to do before bed.
There are so many feel-good activities you can include in your bedtime routine to reflect on your day and set the tone for a restful night.
Find a soothing activity or hobby to get you in the mood for sleep. Here are a few you can try:
- bedtime yoga
- listening to mellow music
- creative writing
3. Unplug before bed.
Unplugging and avoiding all electronic devices before bed is one of the most effective sleep hacks, but late-night screen time is also a hard habit to break.
It should come as no surprise that scrolling social media and watching TV are not recommended before bed. In fact, blue light from your smartphone and your tv can inhibit melatonin production and affect the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Experts recommend that you turn off your screens and avoid blue light for 2-3 hours before you go to bed (Source: Harvard Health Publishing). That gives you plenty of time for your bedtime routine and to incorporate one or two of those soothing activities we were just talking about.
If you can’t manage a full 2-3 hours of no screens before bed, at least unplug for 1 hour before you hit the sack.
4. Take a bath.
A hot bath is my go-to for almost any problem – sick, sad, or stressed. Baths are great for relieving stress in a healthy way, unwinding after a long day, and getting ready for bed.
(Here are 5 more healthy ways moms can relieve stress.)
In fact, a warm relaxing bath can help you sleep better. According to researchers, a hot bath (ideally taken about 90 minutes before bed) can help you fall asleep faster. The hot water lowers your core temperature, signaling to your body that it’s time for sleep.
You’ve got to try this DIY vegan milk bath recipe before bed. Game changer.
5. Experiment with essential oils.
Don’t run away! I’m not one of those super crunchy moms who think essential oils can cure anything and everything. But, I do think there are many benefits to using essential oils, including stress relief and better sleep.
Many essential oils have been recognized as natural sleep aids. Various studies and research suggest some essential oils can alleviate mild insomnia and restlessness, improve the overall quality of sleep, and help you fall asleep faster.
Here are just a few of the essential oils that may improve your sleep:
(Source: Forbes. Individual studies are also linked below.)
- Lavender – shown to alleviate mild insomnia and restlessness, and improve the quality of sleep. (Check out this DIY lavender coconut milk bath recipe.)
- Valerian – can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.
- Bergamot – shown to improve sleep quality.
- Roman chamomile – can calm anxiety, improve vital signs, and promotes better sleep. May also help reduce nightmares.
How to use essential oils for sleep:
Essential oils can be mixed with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, and then applied topically. Generally, the ratio should be 1 teaspoon of carrier oil for every 1 drop of essential oil. (You may want to test a tiny amount on a small patch of skin to make sure you don’t have a sensitivity to the oils.)
You can also add essential oils to a diffuser or apply a few drops to your pillow. FYI – you should not ingest essential oils. If you do, you could spend the night hugging the toilet instead of getting a good night’s sleep.
6. Eliminate disruptions.
If you have trouble falling asleep or find that you wake easily, you may need to work on eliminating disruptions. If you’re sensitive to noise, try a sound machine. You can buy a decent one for as little as $15 off Amazon, or you can download an app on your phone for free. If you need complete darkness, use a sleep mask.
7. Get comfortable.
To get quality sleep, you need a relaxing sleep space, free of stress and stimulation. Optimize your sleep space so that you can fall asleep faster and get a better night’s rest.
Start by dimming the lights and turning on the diffuser during your bedtime routine. Set your thermostat, open a window, or use a fan to get a comfortable temperature.
If you’ve been sleeping on the same sheets since college, it’s time for an upgrade. Make sure you’ve got a comfortable pillow, some decent sheets, and cozy pajamas. If your mattress leaves much to be desired, but you can’t afford a new one, make a smaller investment in a mattress topper. You can even try a weighted blanket, which studies show can help with anxiety, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and more.
With these sleep hacks, I truly hope you can get a better night’s sleep. What did I miss? Do you have a sleep hack that you swear by? Give me the deets in the comments below.
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