Oh the pain of not sleeping. I can right now stand side by side billions of mums with newborns, in solidarity, and agree just how much sleep deprivation hurts.
My little one is 3 weeks old at the time of writing this, and it’s 6.20pm in the evening.
I like to tell myself that I’m getting to know his patterns, but I’m really not.
Every night is something different at this stage, and I wake up in the mornings with a mixture of fuzziness, grumpiness and tearfulness.
What’s really helping me right now as a side note is an early morning 10 minute brisk walk.
I take the dog out first thing after baby's early feed, and that fresh winter air wakes me up better than coffee.
And yet it’s not only mums with babies who suffer sleep deprivation.
In fact, anxiety and poor sleep tend to come as a partnership.
And it’s hard to tell which causes which?
Whether anxiety comes first, or the lack of sleep? But what’s clear is that when the two exist together, it’s a nightmare.
I want to write this blog today not from the point of view of a healthcare professional but simply as someone with helpful tips on getting some good shut eye, regardless of what your situation is.
- PHONES. Get them out of your bedroom, and certainly don’t look at them right before going to bed. Phones are designed to be looked at. The same goes for social media. Therefore it makes sense that in order for us to be calm and restful before bed, we shouldn’t look at our phones. They'll only make us more alert. The blue light emitted from our phones suppresses the sleep hormone Melatonin, and therefore keeps us awake longer. Therefore if you’re struggling to sleep the number one thing you can do is not look at your phone before bed.
2. Do a brain dump. My favourite form of getting your mind clearer, is to grab a piece of paper and write down everything. Literally, all your to do’s, your worries, your self doubts, whatever is on your mind at that time. You can do a dump in list form, or just scribble away. If you find your mind too busy before going to bed, this is a great thing to do. I always advise the ladies in my wellness club to keep a notepad by their beds, in-case they wake in the night and need to dump their worries onto paper.
3. Try not to panic. I know the fears around needing to go to work or be with the kids and not being able to function the next day. It’s horrible. But it’s made worse by panicking about that at 2am when you can’t sleep. I always recommend if you can’t sleep to get up, grab a herbal tea (camomile & honey is really soothing) and spend half an hour reading a nice book, or listening to a podcast, or anything relaxing like a meditation. The Calm app is really good for its sleep stories I think. You’ll find that if you can make yourself a little bit sleepy and yawny that you’ll fall asleep quicker when you do go back to bed. Tossing and turning checking the clock will only stress you out even more so please don’t do this.
4. Clean sheets! Creating a nice bedroom environment will help with good sleep patterns. Also, calm lighting before bed such as a little night lamp or a reading lamp. It helps to relax us.
5. Take naps if you can. Take any help offered to you and grab a snooze during the day. New mums this is particularly relevant to you! If you can take a nap during the day then you really ought to (when baby sleeps). It will make you feel SO much better. Sod the housework, and give yourself permission to take some rest.
6. Use essential oils. A few drops of lavender oil in a burner, or a lavender pillow spray work wonders to help relax us. Chamomile oil is also a good one to use to promote sleepiness.
7. Don’t try and go to bed if you’re not sleepy. This is something I cottoned onto a long time ago. If you’re not sleepy, wait until you are sleepy. It sounds basic, but perhaps you’re trying to force yourself to sleep at a certain time when you need to wait for your mind and body to be tired enough to sleep?
8. Force yourself to do something relaxing before bed. A half an hour of reading time is my top choice, but other recommendations are a hot bubble bath, listening to relaxing music and a guided meditation, or a form of writing such as journaling. Soon you won't need to force yourself to relax, you'll start to enjoy that bit of self care and look forward to it!
9. Exercise. Take the baby or children outside, even in the garden or park for 10 minutes will help you feel more energised and able to function. A walk in the fresh air will do you so much good BUT you won't feel like doing it. You do need to pull yourself by the scruff of the neck, grab your coat and DO IT. And if you do, you'll feel better almost instantly plus you'll get a boost of feel good endorphins which will make you happier when you return home and enjoy a warm cuppa with a slice of cake 🙂 A walk in my opinion is a win win.
10. Understand that your baby isn't on the same time scale as you! Babies are meant to wake up at night, as are toddlers, as are children. I find it so frustrating that mums are bombarded with "How to get your kids to sleep longer" articles when they only make us feel shittier than we do already. I've taken a 'day by day' approach to my children's sleep patterns, I've tried everything from co-sleeping to cots to double beds to sleeping on the couch while toddler plays at 3am. Whatever I can do to get some sleep is what works and I certainly don't listen to all the should's and what if's online. You do what works for you mama.
And, ultimately, if none of these tips work don’t be shy to go to the doctor if you’re really struggling.
Sleep is imperative to our bodies regenerating and renewing abilities. We do need sleep, it is compulsory. It’s not an option not to sleep!
So don’t feel bad about going to the doctor and asking for help.
Do pop a comment and let me know if these points help at all? And feel free to share this blog for those in need.