On average, women need roughly 20 more minutes of sleep per night than men do. That's because they expend more mental energy each day—in other words, they multitask and use more of their brains. I can’t think of a mom who would disagree.
Despite this, sleep is one of the first things we sacrifice as moms. It isn’t just when we have the newborn that we experience sleepless nights. Once we have a baby, we worry about them at every stage.
Are they late developing, will they like preschool, did they get their school project finished? Where is my teenager, who are they with, what are they doing? All of these worries rob us of a good night's sleep.
Many moms say they don’t have time for sleep, but what they are really saying is that they don’t make time for sleep. Though it can be difficult, there are a few tips you should keep in mind when trying to catch that extra, necessary shut eye.
Here are five suggestions to help moms sleep better. Many are backed by studies from the National Sleep Foundation.Create a calm, peaceful sleep sanctuary.
Keep the temperature a comfortable 68 to 72 degrees. Close the blinds to block outside light and distractions. Clutter is stress producing, and stress is a common cause for lack of sleep. So channel Marie Kondo and tidy up! Remind yourself it will help you sleep better.
- Turn off your devices.
This one is tough, but your phone and computer should not go to bed with you. Along with television, these electronics are too stimulating.
Any light can trigger a sleep hormone imbalance, since this is how your body distinguishes between day and night. The blue light emitted from our electronic devices has been proven to inhibit the production of melatonin, and melatonin is the body’s main sleep hormone.
Whether you’re tempted to check your work emails or simply binge a new show, remember that nighttime hours are for rest. Catch up on work or fun in the morning, after a good night’s sleep.
- Maintain your routine.
Creating a pre-sleep routine will help put you in a relaxed mood. This could be a simple cup of caffeine-free tea, a warm bath, soothing shower, or listening to gentle and soft sounds such as the ocean. Maybe a light spritz of lavender on your pillow.
A sleep schedule is important because it increases the likelihood you will get more precious sleep. Irregular sleep patterns can alter your circadian rhythm, which interrupts the signal that tells your brain it's time to go to sleep. Melatonin is a key hormone which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. The building block of melatonin is serotonin and 95% of serotonin is found in our digestive system. It’s produced there by the intestines. A healthy gut and good digestion make for healthy levels of serotonin, which explains the importance of a proper diet.
As well, you will need to establish a caffeine curfew. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has studied the effects of caffeine on your sleep. Their study demonstrated that caffeine consumption has disruptive effects on your measure of sleep. Best to savor your coffee in the morning.
If you have school age children, creating a sleep routine will be of great benefit to them as well. Feel good about teaching your children a life long, healthy sleep habit.
- Get regular exercise
83% of people are more likely to get good sleep if they exercise during the day. This makes sense on a basic level: you tire yourself out during the workout, which makes you more likely to fall asleep.
That feeling is actually being caused by a drop in your body temperature. Your body heats up during a workout, which is stimulating. It then cools down after the workout, which makes you go to bed quicker.
If you’re going outside and getting exercise, you may want to make sure you’re not doing it too close to your bedtime. For most people, this won’t be a problem: the feeling of your body temperature dropping is enough to promote drowsiness. However, it is important to note that some people reported trouble getting to bed when they exercised too close to bedtime.
- A new mattress.
If you have implemented the above and still can’t get to sleep, it could very well be your mattress is the problem. Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Are you tossing and turning, constantly adjusting into the wee hours? Sleep movement is an indicator of sleep quality: the less you’re moving, the better your quality of sleep.
If you’re waking up tired, it may be time to replace your mattress. No one should ever sleep on a mattress that is 10 years old and it probably should be replaced sooner than that. They do wear out. Studies have shown people sleep better when they get a new mattress.
Why Sleep is So Important
Sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health. In fact, sleep has a major impact on quality of life. Falling short can take a serious toll on your daytime energy and productivity. We are happier, more energetic and enjoy our days more when we have had a good night’s sleep.
A well rested mom is necessary for carrying out everyday tasks like driving. It is dangerous to operate a vehicle while extremely sleep deprived. We risk the well being of our babies and children.
Sleep plays a vital and key role in our health. Study after study has concluded that less than 7-8 hours of sleep per night increases our risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Other studies have linked depression, obesity, decreased immune response and high blood pressure to insufficient sleep. As a mom, you have a lot of responsibilities. Getting a good night's sleep is one of them.
Start these 5 tips tonight and there won’t be a sheep in sight!
If you live in Alaska and would like to schedule a sleep study, contact The Alaska Sleep Clinic and receive a free 10-minute phone consultation with a sleep educator. Our clinic is owned, operated, and mostly staffed by women who can help provide top quality, comprehensive care for our female patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.