by Brittney Stefanic
The gifts we really want
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, it is funny to think about the gifts society THINKS we want compared to the gifts that we ACTUALLY want. I can only speak for myself, but especially this year, I feel like a day at home with my family may put me into a Groundhog Day spiral. Now, if I could magically be gifted 2 nights at the beach with some of my girlfriends… That would be awesome. Warm meals, cold drinks, sunshine, uninterrupted conversations, and sleeping in.
The motherhood journey
All joking aside, with Mother’s Day coming up, this is a great time to reflect on your motherhood journey so far. Of course, it has come with its ups and downs, but if you take a close look at who you are as a mom, what comes up?
I hope you are feeling great in all areas of “the hood”, but oftentimes as moms, we give so darn much of ourselves, that is it easy to be worn down and exhausted. So I want to give you a gift you really want… More sleep. These 5 sleep tips are going to set you up for better sleep because we all know that is one of the best gifts we could receive this Mother’s Day!
Tip #1: Know the value of great sleep
How many hours of sleep are you missing out on just watching an extra episode while binging on Netflix or spending a little extra time scrolling 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, stronger emotional regulation, more fulfilling sex lives, and lower risk of injury than those who don’t. Those reasons right there should be enough motivation for all of us!
The next time you find yourself putting off going to bed “for just another minute” of awake time, think about what you’re really giving up. It’s possible that the episode of Tiger King, however tantalizing, might be better left for tomorrow.
Tip #2: Bye-bye blue light
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, our bodies have grown to have a hard time distinguishing light from the sun from the high-intensity blue light emitted from our lamps, smartphones, computer screens, flat-screen 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 dimming the lights in whatever room you’re relaxing in, can be very effective in cueing your melatonin production.
I know, I know. You use your “me time” at night when the littles are in bed to scroll and catch up on your phone. I’m not suggesting that you DON’T do that, but what if you tried to cut it off a little earlier to give some screen-free evening time, too? Consider adding some stretching, coloring, showering, chatting, listening to your bedtime routine.
Tip #3: This bed was made for sleeping
Creating a solid subconscious association between your bed and sleep will go a long way towards helping you fall asleep quickly after you climb into it.
Creating that association means that you use your bedroom for sleeping and sex, and nothing else! Any other activities can cause confusion in your brain about the appropriate procedure after you climb into bed.
No working in bed, no watching TV, no eating, and no reading. That’s right! No reading in bed for those among us with severe sleep struggles. If you are a long-time insomniac or really struggle with falling asleep at bedtime, I suggest you read in a chair in your bedroom until you’re ready for bed.
Tip #4: Let’s move it
Physical exercise is vital to getting a good night’s sleep, and it’s not just about burning off energy. As little as 10 minutes of aerobic physical activity during the day has been proven to improve the duration and quality of sleep, particularly when it’s done regularly.
Exercise also reduces stress, and we know that stress and sleep mix about as well as oil and water. Plus, moving your body helps reset your sleep/wake cycle by raising your body temperature.
Tip #5: Soak up the sun
I mentioned in tip 2 that limiting your exposure to blue light in the evenings is helpful for sleep management, but getting out in the sun during the day can be extremely beneficial in regulating your sleep/wake cycle for the exact same reason.
Exposure to the sun, especially early in the morning, helps to reset your circadian rhythm, reminding the body and brain what time you start your day, and when it’s time to call it a night. Early morning sunlight, particularly between 6 and 8:30 AM, also helps increase morning alertness, provides a dose of vitamin D, and helps to regulate your mood.
So set aside some time to step outside to enjoy a cup of coffee before the kids wake up. Or set them up outside with breakfast while you soak up a few rays. The benefits will become apparent almost immediately for your circadian clock and theirs, too!
Badge of motherhood
For many mamas, these five simple steps are all they need in order to start sleeping soundly through the night and enjoying the amazing benefits of a good sleep routine so hop on it!
Remember that there is no badge in motherhood for who is the most tired. Though it may seem like a constant contest to see who complains about exhaustion most, the really MVP goes to the well-rested mamas who are taking care of their own bodies and brains.
Since our kiddos won’t be bringing home poems from school this year, I wanted to write a poem for you before signing off…
Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
Moms everywhere deserve great sleep,
And this includes YOU!
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 as busy mamas, sleep can easily take the back seat. 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 @sleeperteachers for access to their sleep tips + tricks and opportunities for free sleep Q&A sessions.