By Brittney Stefanic
The societal days of do more, be more, have more are (thankfully) behind us, but the negative impact of this “go go go” lifestyle on your sleep hygiene as a busy and over-scheduled mom is still lingering.
The benefits of quality rest are well known, yet making sleep your highest self-care priority is a challenge you face week after week. It’s about time that you learn how to calm your mind, put down your devices and create a sleeping space conducive to high quality sleep because your sleep matters, mama!
Sleep is self-care
Have you ever come across FREE self-care that is accessible every single day and night? It doesn’t require a babysitter, and it boosts your immune system, memory, mood and energy. Mamas, sleep is the ultimate form of self-care, and we all need more of it. Sleep is like the MAGIC PILL that makes everything better.
If there was a vitamin, supplement or essential oil on the market that could bring you all the good stuff (and was handed out fo’ free) would you take it? Of course you would! And I would, too!
When we sleep better, we live better
Think about the last time you went to the gym… You had energy to get off the couch, and time to drive to the gym to go to the class. When you left, you felt awesome and you were so glad that you committed.
Now, think about the last time that you wanted to go to the gym but didn’t. You likely didn’t have the energy to go. You felt like it would be easier to stay home and chill. You had just eaten a sugary snack and didn’t want to workout. You were already tired and didn’t want to go. Would you have had the energy if weren’t sleepy? Probably!
We could say the same about reaching for sugary treats. The last time you avoided them, you had the mindset and stamina and energy to get through the day WITHOUT the sugar.
But, the last time you “gave it” and “caved” you probably needed a boost. Maybe you were irritated with your kiddos and just needed something to make you feel better. Maybe you were sleepy and needed the blood sugar spike. You were most likely exhausted.
When we sleep better, we live better. In the gym, in the kitchen, in the playroom.
When we make time for our own sleep, we are showing up for ourselves.
What would your life look like if you took an hour before bed to unwind your mind and body? Maybe you would love having more energy, maybe you would love getting better rest, maybe you would finally get the change to soak in the bath or read the good book that you’ve been wanting to!
What would you feel like if you hopped into bed each night with the possibility of getting the sleep you needed? Maybe you would wake up in the morning and not feel like you had to hit snooze, maybe you would have the energy to make it to the gym, maybe you would have a few more patient seconds before being irritated with your toddler the next day.
As mamas, we have a REALLY HARD TIME showing up for ourselves. The day is jam-packed with things to do. We feel guilty getting a babysitter or spending money for a massage. We are so freaking exhausted that we don’t to cram one more thing on our over-crowded plate. But what if setting ourselves up for success meant leaving the laundry pile or the dishes in the sink and just laying down?
Make sleep your priority
How many hours of sleep do you miss out on just to watch an extra episode of their favorite TV show, or to spend a little extra time browsing Instagram?
In order to start sleeping well, we need to start making sleep a priority, and the best way to do that is to understand how absolutely vital it is to our health and well-being. People who sleep a minimum of seven hours a night have stronger immune systems, better memory retention, better emotional regulation, more fulfilling sex lives, and lower risk of injury than those who don’t.
Lack of sleep, on the other hand, has been shown to cause an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, lower testosterone, and a weakened immune system.
The next time you find yourself putting off going to bed by an hour or so, think about what you’re really giving up, and whether that episode of the Bachelor, however tantalizing, might be better left until tomorrow.
Limit your screen-use at night
The most common and abundant source of “blue light,” (light with short wavelength and high energy) is the sun. Because our bodies have evolved to sleep at night and remain alert during the day, this blue light inhibits melatonin production and signals our system to stay awake.
Unfortunately, since the invention of the light bulb (and with the rising addiction we all have to our screens), our bodies have a hard time distinguishing light from the sun from the light from smartphones, computers ,TVs and tablets.
Turning down the lights and, more importantly, turning off your devices an hour before bedtime is a great way to get your body and brain ready for bed. You don’t need to walk around in the dark, but turning off most of the lights in the house, and preferably dimming them in whatever room you’re relaxing in, can be very effective in cueing your melatonin production.
Try adding a nice stretching session, a warm bath or reading a book to your pre-bedtime routine once you get the phone put away!
For most mamas, these few tips are what they really need in order to start sleeping soundly through the night and enjoying the amazing benefits of a good sleep routine, but nothing has gone wrong if you need more help. We all have deeply rooted habits, with sleep and otherwise, and sometimes setting up self-care practices can take more time and effort than we realize.
Stay strong and keep trying… You have absolutely nothing to lose and the change sleep will make in your mood, energy, attitude and well-being is nothing short of extraordinary.
Brittney Stefanic is a whole-family certified sleep consultant and founder of Sleeper Teachers Sleep Consulting. As an enneagram 1 and recovering perfectionist, she gets that the struggle is real when you want to do it all and do it all well. But as a sleep educator, Brittney believes in the power of teaching and loves to help families in meeting setting sleep goals. Brittney and her team love educating and support families around the world in finding sleep solutions through their customized sleep plans. You can follow the teachers on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook @thesleeperteachers for access to their sleep tips + tricks and opportunities for free sleep Q&A sessions.