You know the wonderful feeling of it being bedtime and so you put on your comfy pajamas, lay down in your perfectly comfortable bed, in a room that is the perfect temperature, and as soon as your head hits your pillow you start drifting off into a peaceful night of uninterrupted sleep?
Yeah, I don’t know that feeling either.
In fact, my oldest child is almost 10, which means that I haven’t slept through the night in about 10 years. And bedtime, don’t even get me started on bedtime!
My kids fight bedtime like it’s the plague and then once the house is quiet and I finally have a minute to myself (you know the time that I should be calming down and getting ready for bed myself) that is the time that I am going through the house finding sippy cups that rolled under furniture and folding laundry, catching up on my shows (thank you Hulu) and writing blog posts. Then, even after I have gotten all of the things that are on my night time check list completed, I still have a hard time falling asleep once I make it to bed.
My head hits the pillow and instead of sleeping my brain decides it’s time to replay the day and then come up with lists of what we need to do tomorrow. I feel like since I’ve become a mom and a wife that part has gotten worse. I lay down thinking I’m so exhausted and then, BAM, I’m thinking …
Was nice enough to my husband for him to feel loved and supported?
Did I set good enough of an example to my children?
Did I tell enough how much I love them and am proud to be their mom?
Did I say sorry for all of the times I lost my temper?
Did I make heathy meals?
Did I stick to my goals for the day?
Did my checklist get completed?
After all the worries of failure become fleeting, we move into the more entertaining thoughts of …
Can I make that cute shirt with my vinyl cutter?
What would I do if I was the character in that book/movie?
What would I look like if my hair was cut or colored?
I wonder if I can do that crazy exercise move I saw on Instagram.
Then, I finally decided that it was time to figure out how to make myself sleep better because, let’s face it, it is hard to get little people up and out of bed in the morning and ready for school when you can barely get yourself out of bed. Mama needs sleep!
First, let’s start with how much sleep you need. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18-64 need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
For example, if I needed to wake up at 6 AM, I should go to sleep sometime between 9 PM and 11 PM to achieve my goal amount of sleep.
Giving yourself a bedtime can be a really hard thing to do. As adults we are way better at making excuses as to why we need to stay up an hour later than we had planned, “I really need to finish this report for work” definitely trumps the “I need one more sip of water” that I get from my kids at least 4 times every night.
However, having a bedtime goal and a plan to make it happen is important. My iPhone just offered me a bedtime reminder the other day (must be part of a new update, I can never keep up). It used the information I have in there (my alarm that is set for every morning) and told me how much sleep I should get and now I have a sleep reminder that goes off 15 minutes before I should go to bed every night.
Just telling yourself to go to bed isn’t enough to help you get there though.
Think back to when you were a kid, or if you’re a parent think about what you do with your children each night. You probably had a bedtime routine, yes?
At our house the kids put on their jammies and then they get to watch a show on the TV in a dark room while they all sit on the couch. When their show is over they have to go to the bathroom and brush their teeth. Once we have the all clear they go to their rooms and we tuck them in. The End.
As an adult the routine is gone. Sometimes I fall asleep first while my husband is finishing up some work in the office. Sometimes he falls asleep first while I’m finishing up working (and then I get to fall asleep to the gentle sound of the chainsaw I lay next to all night). Sometimes we fall asleep watching a movie. Sometimes I’m super into a book and can’t turn off my bedside light and that keeps us both awake way too long.
Lately I’ve been trying to get into a routine where by a certain time the lights in the house are all off and I can watch 1 or 2 episodes of Scrubs on Netflix and then the sleep timer turns the TV off and I have to go to sleep. It’s a work in progress but I have been going to sleep at a better time than usual. (Source)
One last tip for a better night sleep, make your bedroom a relaxing place where you are comfortable and free of stressors. Who rolled your eyes reading that? That’s what I thought. It’s not an easy thing to create a space for yourself, and it’s even harder when there are two of you sharing the space.
They say not have technology in your room would help with making it a peaceful place but I need a TV not dedicated to Mickey Mouse and Lego cartoons so that I can at least WATCH other adults talk. Also, my phone doubles as my alarm clock that I just happen to sometimes scan Facebook with.
But, some ways that you can make your room more relaxing are to use calming colors in the décor, blue is a calming color, and don’t use crazy prints. Keep things nice and calm. Sometimes a new mattress or even just new pillows can help you get more comfy at night. If you share a bed with a human chain saw like I do, ear plugs can sometimes help you sleep better. Avoiding exercise right before bed is another way to help you fall asleep quicker. It can be hard to fall asleep when your heart rate is elevated so keep that in mind before you save your run for after you put the kids to bed. Limit your caffeine intake, especially after lunch. The Better Sleep Council has a few more tips on their website that may help as well.
Sleep is an important part of your health. It’s easy to overlook how important sleep is for your body. During sleep your brain recharges, your body grows new cells, and your body releases hormones.
Did you know that you can die from sleep deprivation before you die from starvation?
That’s right! You can only last 10 days without sleep but you can last 2 weeks without food. (Source) Also, a lack of sleep can lead to depression, skin aging, and weight gain. It can also lead to more arguments with your partner which can lead to marital dissatisfaction. (Source)
Another fun fact, after 16 hours of being awake your body if functioning as if you had a blood alcohol content of .05. That means you are almost drunk without even having a beer! (Source)
I don’t know about you but I will be trying harder to make sure that sleep is more of a priority. You also better believe that I am handing my kids copies of the studies done on sleep the next time they ask why Mom is so grouchy after being woken up 4 times during the night due to bad dreams and kids rolling into walls.
Are you ready to set some sleep goals for yourself? What are you going to do to help you achieve your own sleep goals?