You’ve worked hard to help your children fall asleep, and now you can’t sleep. Maybe you stay up past the kids’ bedtime so you can watch TV, clean, or scroll aimlessly on social media. I know the struggle all too well, as sometimes it can feel like I put in all the work to get my daughter to sleep well, yet I’m not taking advantage, and I’m still getting maybe six hours of sleep a night.
It’s not shocking that I’m in good company. As caregivers, it’s easy to tap out at the end of the day and do things that 1) we feel we need to do that we didn’t have time for when our kids were awake, or 2) are mindless.
I don’t think anything is wrong with either of those things, to be clear. I think there are seasons in life where we hustle after bedtime, and seasons where we just need a break. Both serve a purpose.
This post isn’t to shame you or make you feel as though you need to do something specific with your time once your kids are in bed. Rather, the goal is to equip you with tools to ensure YOU’RE getting the proper rest you need.
The Benefits of Sleep
If you’re a Rockabye Mama community member, I’m sure you know how important sleep is for children.
· It helps with focus
· It can help better regulate emotions
· It allows for growth and development
And the same is true for adults. Prioritizing your sleep can truly help you become a better version of yourself, allowing you to show up in your life in greater ways.
So step 1, before really making a plan of action, is to decide that sleep is important and that it’s something you will prioritize on your journey to being the best you.
Your Sleep Environment
It’s one of the first things I talk about with parents when working toward improving their child’s sleep, and it’s one of the first things you want to look at when improving your sleep.
Your sleep environment should be a calm one. If you walk into your bedroom and are overwhelmed with clutter, a pile of to-dos, or a million empty water bottles (totally not speaking from experience here) it can create a mental roadblock.
Go ahead. Walk into your room with an open, analytical mind. What is the first thing your attention is drawn to?
Piles of clothes?
The diaper on the floor from the middle of the night?
The tissue paper you haven’t put back after your friend’s baby shower last week?
If your conscious mind is drawn there, you can bet your subconscious mind is also drawn there. But your subconscious mind doesn’t just look the other way. It starts planning and criticizing.
Oh, yeah. I need to put the clean laundry away. But before I do that, I need to sort through my closet and get rid of old clothes. Hello, closet edit. I can’t believe people get paid to edit other people’s closet. And really, the whole term “edit” is so clever.
And down the rabbit hole your mind goes, whether you’re aware of it or not.
Action Step to Prepare Your Room for Sleep
- Go into your room with a pen and paper and quickly write down where your attention is drawn.
- Over the next few weeks, start working on addressing any “attention-grabbing” areas. Clear the dresser off. Tidy up your nightstand. Find a new place for the rocking chair you’re no longer using.
- Add elements that will create a calm environment. Essential oil diffuser, a salt rock, a picture of your family, a warm blanket.
How Do You Use Your Room?
Your bed should be sacred – a place for sleep and…well…cuddling.
All other activities are off limits.
That means no eating chips in bed (sorry, dad!).
No watching TV in bed (I think I can maybe make an exception for Saturday morning cartoons with the kids).
Why? Because space has memory. And your body can get confused. Imagine the difference between these two scenarios:
Mary goes into her room every night and lays down in her bed. She has declared her bed a sleep place. She doesn’t watch TV or scroll on her phone. All she does in her bed is sleep. When she goes into her room and lays down, there’s literally nothing else she can do.
Billy goes into his room every night and digs into his nightstand for his stash of candy. After eating a few pieces while scrolling on his phone, he clicks on the TV and starts Netflix. Before he knows it, it’s been two hours.
When both of these people walk into their rooms, their bodies have very different responses to what’s going to happen. Mary has no other option than sleep – it’s what she’s primed her body for. Billy, on the other hand, associates his bed with Netflix.
And while neither of these are necessarily “right” or “wrong,” Mary is more likely to fall asleep faster when her head hits the pillow.
Action Steps for Preparing Your Room for Sleep
- Evaluate the activities you currently do in your bed. Anything other than love and sleep should be reduced.
- If you share a room with a partner and they just don’t agree that TV, snacking, or whatever is eliminated, come to a compromise. Maybe TV in bed is allowed at a certain time of day or a certain day of the week.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Routine
When you do the same routine day-in and day-out, your body can begin to anticipate what to expect.
Go to sleep at 10 p.m. every night?
Your body will start getting sleepy around that time, as it’s releasing the appropriate sleep hormones since it does that every night around the same time.
Get into the habit of following the same routine for two weeks.
Take a shower.
Drink bedtime tea.
Read a book or journal.
Go to bed.
Stay consistent with the time, and see how it helps your body prepare for a great night’s sleep.
A few other things you want to consider:
- Limit your caffeine intake. Look, I love coffee and probably have 3-4 servings a day. But it can have impacts on your body that you aren’t even aware of. I’m not saying to get rid of it completely, but not having any caffeine at least 7 hours before bed can be a good place to start.
- If an active mind keeps you awake at night, do a quick brain dump of everything you need to do the next day. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, and just write down everything on your mind. Doctor’s appointments, laundry, buying a birthday gift. Just dump it on paper.
- If you have trouble breaking the relationship with your bed and TV or social media scrolling, get rid of that device from the room. Develop a habit of leaving your phone charging in the kitchen overnight. Take the TV out of your room and sell it or put it in another room.
After putting in countless of sleepless nights with your child, you deserve to get some rest. Taking the initial steps can feel daunting, but it will be worth all of the effort.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Katie, the only thing impacting my sleep at night is my CHILD,” then I have great news for you: That’s exactly what I help families solve!If you feel that getting your child more sleep will help you get the zzz’s you deserve, check out my 1:1 support packages to see how I can make that transformation real for you.