PREFACE TO PARENTS WITH CHILDREN WHO DON’T SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT:
Some of the below tips may still help you but, for now, you’ll have to accept the zombie state of affairs while remembering that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. You’re doing a bang-up job as it is, and I’m in awe of the superhuman strength it takes you just to get out of bed. If you’ve got a few minutes and you’ve decided to read this post, the best advice I can give you is to skip it and go have a power nap instead. The second best advice I can give is to absolutely ignore and hold in the highest disregard anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps. This is only good advice if your baby also happens to prepare their own meals, clean up after themselves, and take showers. You have my permission to give that person a jolly good kick up the arse.
TO EVERYONE ELSE:
A good night’s sleep is essential if you want to step up your productivity. (I know this because I’m currently suffering the effects of a few bad nights’ sleep and it’s taking me about 5 minutes to type each of these sentences.) So, to cut to the chase, I’ve compiled a few tips to take you to the land of nod in no time.
Sleep tip #1: Have a bedtime routine
Routines are familiar and comforting and they help you know what’s coming next. That’s why they’re so important for babies. You wouldn’t wind your baby up with exciting games and external stimuli only to plonk them in bed seconds later and expect them to drift off immediately. So why would it work for you?
Figure out a relaxing routine that, when started, lets your body know that it’s time for bed. Maybe it starts with a bath, or another chapter of the novel you’re reading. Make it something that doesn’t require a lot of mental energy, so that your brain will realise it’s bound for Bedfordshire and can slowly start to shut down for the night.
(And you know your Facebook feed only riles you up, so skip it.)
Sleep tip #2: Empty your head
A common reason for not being able to sleep at night is that your mind is racing at a mile a minute. You’re thinking about everything you did that day, everything you’ve to do the next day, big changes that are happening in your life, small changes that are happening to the price of milk… It’s never-ending.
A great way to do this is to write everything down. Give your thoughts the time they clearly crave and they’ll stop stalking you pre-slumber. Keep a pen and paper beside your bed so you can quickly jot down any tasks your brain suddenly remembers, or any recurring ruminations. In short, give your brain a break and let a notebook take over for the night shift.
Sleep tip #3: Get comfortable
This may sound obvious but you’re not going to sleep properly if you’re uncomfortable. Maybe your mattress is too lumpy, or the room is too bright, or the duvet is too heavy. I recently bought a new mattress after suffering on a memory foam one for years. The difference it’s made to my sleep has been incredible. Other possibilities include buying black-out blinds, splashing out on silky pyjamas (if that’s your thing), or increasing the thread count in your bedclothes.
Still, those can cost a pretty penny, so experiment with ways to replicate them with little outlay. Try a sleep mask if light is an issue. Just replace a sheet or two (the ones actually touching your skin) instead of the whole set of bedclothes. Buy some earplugs if noise is a factor. And don’t eat or guzzle down a big glass of water right before bed. (I’m currently trying to continue getting my daily 2-litre H2O intake without the need for midnight bathroom breaks. They don’t call them the “wee” hours for nothing. 😉 )
Sleep tip #4: Try to stay awake
I can’t remember where I first read about this but it’s actually worked for me. On nights when I can’t sleep no matter what I do, I tell myself I’m going to stay awake for the entire night. The result? Out like a light in a matter of minutes.
I’ve no idea how it works, but I’m sure there’s some fancy schmancy scientific explanation for why the brain, when usually so good at being told what to do, suddenly turns into a petulant child when the sun goes down. So if all else fails, try a bit of reverse psychology and see if you aren’t soon sleeping soundly.
And there you have it — 4 tips for better sleep. Have you tried any of these? Have they worked?
Got a great sleeping tip? Add it in the comments below to help us grab some zzz’s.
And share this post by clicking whatever button grabs your fancy below, so that everyone you know can sleep soundly too. (The buttons are just beneath the related links.) Your friends will thank you.
… Unless your friends have young kids. Then maybe offer to babysit one night. 😛