Did you know that there is one thing you can do to accomplish all of these and it is super simple…. it’s sleep!
I wore this badge of honor for years, glorifying how well I was able to function on minimal sleep. When I first became a mom I was going to school full time to be a nurse and working an over night shift as a CNA so I could spend my days with my babies. I did this for 4 years and through 2 kids before my husband joined the Navy and we were routed to Japan. How crazy is that! During those precious first few months when my body was healing from pregnancy and birth and needed sleep the most I told myself that I was a way better mom if sacrificed more, slept less and did more. Part of it was out of necessity but there was also a part of it that was a stigma I had attached to motherhood that included being tired and without sleep.
I did not realize how exhausted I was until I got overseas and had to readjust my sleep schedule. For the first 2-3 months there I slept sooooo much! I would nap when the kids napped, went to bed when the kids went to bed. I had that “luxury” because I was not working at the time and none of our stuff had arrived there yet so there was nothing to clean up. No toys, decorations or batch cooking. I also did not have my coffee machine…wink…wink! I just wasn’t equipped with stuff “to do” so I was forced to rest. At first I thought maybe I was pregnant again but in reality my body was so run down it needed that time to get back on track.
Not unlike our need for food, water and shelter for basic suvivial. There are a few things we need to THRIVE in this life. Sleep is one, along with human interaction (connection) and movement. Regular sleep is key for detoxifying the body, building healthy new cells, creating beautiful skin, positive moods and outlooks, and who doesn’t want laser sharp focus?! Not to mention a long and healthy life, there were studies done, several in fact, that showed that not getting enough sleep on the regular can shorten your life span, just google them! If that isn’t enough of a reason to stop trading those precious hours of sleep for one more task then we need to have a serious talk!
Here are a few ingredients that you can add to your bedtime routine for better sleep that you can use every night ensuring that you are maximize your rest!
Get Better at Prioritizing Your Day
This is one I am super guilty of especially as mom, I am always able to find one more thing I have to do, another load of laundry I can throw in, another mess of toys to put away, or spill to vacuum up but once I was able to establish a mindset shift around tasks (my “todo’s”), creating priorities in my day and making sleep one of them. Nothing gets in the way of my rest! It can wait until tomorrow and if it can’t then maybe it would be helpful to sit down and take some time to prioritize your tasks for the day so that once sleep time hits you can remind yourself that you can do it later.
This did not come naturally for me, but I do know that once I get into a routine I thrive off of the consistency. Now, I sit down with my husband every night and plan out the next day. Making sure I schedule in time to workout, bang out my work commitments for the day and even space to just hangout and be with the kids. Also, us knowing what each others priorities are for the day makes it easy for us to support each other in getting them done instead of being bitter towards each other because we feel unsupported.
This one step makes the day much more relaxing because I have scheduled the things I want to get done and I have permission to relax the rest of the day. This translate to a better nights sleep because I am not staying up late to cram in the stuff I need to do and am not stressing if I really can’t get it done. Two things that hugely impact sleep.
Fact: Did you know that there is not such thing as “catching-up” on sleep. Once you lose it, you lose it. They only way to maintain a good sleep cycle is to stay on a regular schedule.
Try to eat your dinner at least an hour or so before you go to bed 2-3 hours is ideal. This gives your body time to digest your final meal making falling asleep and staying asleep easier. Digestion is a huge energy sucker, meaning it takes a ton of energy from your body to actually digest the food you eat. Our most restorative sleep actually occurs in the earlier hours of the evening, between 8p and 2a. If you can give your body 100% of the energy you have to restore and repair your body you will wake-up way more rested then if you go to bed super full. Everyone is different of course so play around with times and needs to see what works best for you.
What you eat matters too! In one study, researchers tracked diet and sleep for a group of healthy adults over the course of five nights and found that indeed, food choices during the day did affect sleep. The researchers chose what the study participants ate for the first four days of the study, but not on the final day of the study. The data showed that eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar throughout the day was linked with participants getting lighter, less restorative sleep, with more awakenings throughout the night.
Apply the same logic to alcohol. Alcohol may help you fall asleep because you feel relaxed but it is actually a stimulant and you will not get the deep sleep you think you might be getting. Switch to a night time mocktail if you have developed a habit for an evening sip. I also personally have a few supplements that I love for my family.
Avoid The Electronics
Social media specifically and electronics in general really mess with your mind. That FOMO you get when you see someone doing something you wish you were doing kind of makes you stress out. This is going to look very different for everyone but I will let you know what I do.
I stop looking at my cell phone once we sit down to dinner. Dinner is a very sacred time for my family. I make sure my kids have my full attention when we eat. I personally want to put all my focus on my meal. I want to enjoy my food, listen my body and appreciate the time I spent choosing and preparing nutrients for my body with . Staying away from the phone also gives my mind an opportunity to unwind and start shutting down so when I go to bed I am not as wired. I don’t think we realize how much of an impact electronics and social media in general effects our mind and our bodies. Creating stress and anxiety in ways we never imagine. It goes back to prioritizing because if I can accomplish my tasks during the day then it guarantees that I am avoid those screens in the evening!
This one is my favorite go-to’s at bed time. I have been doing this since college and it is a game changer. I’ll just lay the steps out here below for you to follow:
Lay in bed on your back – get super cozy! I actually make a little nest for my head. I need exactly 3 pillows to do this. Sometimes my husband can find his way to me once I get settled but nothing gets between me and my pillow nest. Just ask him!
Place one hand on your heart and 1 hand on your belly
Close your eyes
Start breathing in deeply, deeper then you think you can….KEEP BREATHING IN!
Hold it for a second.
Then let it out slowly, really slowly, when you think you’re done, keep exhaling little bit more.
Repeat until you fall asleep!
That’s it! So simple, this puts your mind and body in a deep state of relaxation. It removes it from that fight-or-flight state it’s been in all day with all the tasks that need to be done, places that we have to be, to a safe state of calmness. Your nerves can let go! This is also a great way to help you metabolize the stress from the day, allowing your body to repair and recuperate as you sleep . Which we need to do if we want to wake up refreshed and not feeling over worked and strung out.
Do you have some favorite bedtime routines for you or your kids? Let me know in the comments!!