Something we all take for granted but it becomes very important when we are not getting any.
I have had sleep issues for years, I am generally awake for 3-4 hours during the night (I am sitting writing this at 2am-the irony of writing about sleep deprivation when you can’t sleep is not lost on me). I have spent a long time trying different techniques that I've been told help but I think the solution depends on your issue, the reason for the lack of sleep and whether your body needs more sleep (some people only require 6 hours, others need 10). For now, let's focus on the sleep-deprived parent’s scenario.
- Routine: Establish a wind-down routine; a pattern of activity that signals to your body it is time to sleep. Think in terms of a bath followed by a good book. Sacrifice late night TV for a while until your sleep returns to normal, forget the housework, it will still be there tomorrow. When you climb into bed try deep breathing and meditation to relax your body.
- Get small amounts when you can: Sleep when the baby sleeps (easier said than done). Don’t jump the second baby stirs. Very small babies drift between sleep cycles and generally tend to stir quite a bit during the night but this doesn’t always mean they are waking up. If you tend to have the monitor on full volume, think about turning it down. You will still hear baby when he/she wakes or cries but you won’t be disturbed by every toss and turn.
- Look at your environment: Is there something you can change in your bedroom? Where you sleep should be a sanctuary that is conducive to sleep. If it is overly cluttered or full of stimulus (get rid of the TV and no phones allowed in the bedroom), your brain will find it difficult to switch off. There may also be merit in changing your bed sheets more regularly as we all sleep better on a freshly made bed.
- Look at your lifestyle: Do you exercise? It can be great for training your body to sleep and taking your mind off everything that is keeping you awake. Even a short walk can give you a new lease of life. Look at your diet…caffeine is not always your friend.
- This too shall pass: Take one day at a time, it won’t always be like this. Share the load with your partner when you can and accept offers of help, they won’t last forever either!
Jenny is a mum of 3 and loves to write about all things parenting, family and all the highs and lows that come with it.