We’re at the stage of parenting I think is widely known as the six month sleep regression. I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that the baby’s up half the night again or the fact that my mind won’t stop buzzing when I get back into bed; all I know is that sleep is at a definite premium these days. In fact, top of my Christmas list is a good night’s sleep. I would sacrifice all my gifts for that. I’m not even joking.
The thing about being up half of the night not sleeping is that you get to do a lot of Googling about what you should be doing TO sleep. So here are my eight top tips (gathered from extensive research at 3am) for parents, old and new, on how to get a good night’s sleep. Child permitting.
1. Wind down
Rushing around prior to going up to bed means you’re not allowing your brain to switch off. No wonder it’s still churning out random thoughts as you lay there counting sheep. If ever there was an excuse to leave chores until morning this is it. Get a book, run a bath, or snuggle up on the sofa in peace and relax prior to going up. It’ll signal to your body that it’s time to start thinking about sleep rather than time to start compiling a list of tomorrow’s jobs.
2. Keep your cool
Did you know the best temperature to sleep at is 18 degrees? According to Men’s Health it’s the perfect compromise to help your body to maintain it’s natural low temperature when you’re asleep. Bear in mind that that’s a ballpark figure; try adjusting the thermostat or cracking a window to find the perfect balance between cool and cold.
3. Snuggle in
If you’re like me then a cold bedroom is perfect providing you’ve got plenty of layers to snuggle under. Complement your bedding with a soft, warm bedspread such as these from the Yorkshire Linen shop. Not only will they help keep you cosy enough to get that elusive blissful sleep but a good throw is perfect for wrapping round you (and baby) when you have to do the night-feed. It’s bad enough you have to be up in the middle of the night; you don’t want to be cold too!
4. Put down the stimulants
We all know coffee isn’t a good idea before bed but you should also avoid any stimulants; tea, sugary drinks, even alcohol. Whilst a couple of glasses can act as a depressant, a glass of wine before bed can actually stimulate you, meaning you’re less likely to be able to switch off. The same goes for chocolate. I can’t believe I’m saying this but chocolate before bed is a no no for a good nights sleep. All that sugary, caffeine-filled yumminess just isn’t going to help. Sorry.
5. Lights out
Your body knows it’s night time thanks to your circadian rhythms; an internal circuitry that is affected by things such as light and temperature. Light in the night affects these rhythms; disturbing sleep. Keep your room nice and dark using curtains or blinds with a blackout backing such as these from Next. Away from home often? Invest in an eye mask like this one from Sleepstar for great sleep on the go.
6. Make it a technology-free zone
Whilst it’s tempting to sit in bed and watch TV, surf social media on your phone or sit and tap away on the laptop, using technology in the bedroom prevents good sleep. Why? Blue or white light wakes your body up by delaying the production of melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep). As hard as it is, it’s time to leave the phone downstairs overnight. The Internet will still be there in the morning. Hopefully!
7. Make sure you’re comfortable
A good mattress and bedding will make a world of difference to your nights sleep. Your mattress should be firm enough to support you yet soft enough to sink into so that you get the maximum amount of surface area in contact with the mattress. It’s important to give your mattress a good test before you purchase it; you’ll (hopefully) be spending a lot of time on it! Try a company like the Simba Sleep Mattress for a no obligation 100 day trial period; so you can make doubly doubly sure that it’s the right one for you!
Finally, my absolute favourite tip for a better nights sleep.
8. Enlist a babysitter
Call the grandparents. Rope in a friend. Drag a sibling over. Once you’re happy that they’re going to be able to survive a night in charge, enlist a helping hand to watch your little one overnight. I’ve left partner off the table because you should escape WITH them if you can and get a bit of quality time together. I can’t guarantee that you won’t wake up at 5 out of habit but at least you can roll over and doze back off guilt free!
What are your top tips for a good nights sleep? Let me know your favourite method for ensuring you catch some decent zzzzz’s when you can!