Sleep is a commodity that many people fail to obtain adequately. This is especially true for parents—as they have to juggle both a career and obligations at home.
But just because it seems like a common occurrence, it doesn’t mean you should forgo it altogether. Getting enough sleep consistently is necessary to keep physical and mental health complications at bay.
While the unpredictable nature of raising a child might make getting adequate amounts of sleep challenging, it’s not impossible with the right techniques and mindset.
Here are six simple sleep tips that you can apply to get your much-deserved nightly rest.
1. Develop A Regular Sleep Schedule
Have you ever looked at the clock to 10:30 PM, only to find it at 2:30 AM after what felt like a minute?
This happens when you lack a disciplined sleep schedule. Irregular sleeping patterns can throw your body’s internal clock—also known as the circadian rhythm—off balance.
The circadian rhythm is a vital facilitator for many physiological processes. It thrives on a periodic 24-hour cycle, helping us wind down and wake up during the right times of the day.
When you sleep and rise at drastically different times each day, it confuses this internal clock, leading to daytime sleepiness and insomnia.
To prevent this, establish a fixed bedtime and wake-up time every day. This applies even on the weekends.
By doing so, your body can enjoy more quality and restful sleep. It’ll be hard to develop it at first, but eventually, your body’s circadian rhythm will naturally adjust and you’ll get used to it.
And while it’s more than possible to have your sleep pattern thrown off a loop by a crying toddler, it’s important to continue sticking with the routine the next few nights. Consistency is key towards better rest.
2. Foster a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Your bedroom should be a place where you can tune off and unwind with ease.
If it’s filled with clutter, unnecessary noises, and the like, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to enter that peaceful state of slumber.
A quality sleep environment is typically characterised by three key attributes: it’s pleasantly cool, silent, and dark.
If your room lacks in any of these three departments, try to make it so that these three characteristics are achieved.
For example, if there’s some artificial light streaming from the curtains at night, invest in blackout curtains to cover it.
Does your room get exposed to car and city noises? Are your walls too thin to the point that you hear your neighbours? Consider getting some earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out these noises.
Similarly, adjust the temperature to more comfortable levels if your room is too stuffy or cold.
By doing these things, you can fall asleep more easily.
3. Limit Caffeine in the Late Afternoons
Found in teas, coffees, and chocolate, caffeine is something that many people can’t go a day without—and for good reason.
For one, caffeine is a stimulant that’s generally good for keeping you energised throughout the day.
At a molecular level, caffeine prevents the binding of adenosine to its receptor and stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline. These conditions make it easier for people to stay awake and alert.
For many folks, a cup of coffee or tea is the perfect afternoon energy booster. However, this can lead to problems when trying to go to bed at night.
The effects of caffeine can last for up to five hours on average, but some variants can have a half-life of up to 12 hours. This means that traces of caffeine can still circulate in your body when you wind down for bed. This, in turn, makes it more difficult to enter the elusive restful state.
Given this information, aim to put a complete halt to drinking coffee and black tea beyond the mid-afternoons. This includes coffee, black tea, chocolate, and energy drinks.
If you feel the need for a mid-day pick-me-up, you can look into caffeine-free alternatives or drinks with a lower caffeine content like kombucha or matcha tea.
4. Exercise Regularly
If you are an exhausted parent through and through, this may seem like a counterintuitive suggestion, but hear us out.
Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to sleep more quickly and deeply. When you participate in strenuous activities, it tends to raise your core temperature for a good hour or two.
It’s during the moments of winding down wherein your body will start feeling more tired and sleepy. Furthermore, it’s also good for preventing nighttime awakenings.
If you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle before this, you can start by doing light home exercises. Jogging, cycling, weightlifting, and callisthenics at gentle paces are good to start.
Once you get more proficient, you can go all the way and exercise to improve your physical and mental health. When your body and mind are in top form, sleep becomes much easier to achieve. So don’t skip out on it!
5. Get Diagnosed For Sleep Conditions
If you’ve tried all the aforementioned tips but still can’t sleep, you may need to get a proper medical evaluation.
Facing bouts of sleeplessness for extended periods can indicate an underlying sleep disorder. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, but there’s also sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and a whole lot of other conditions that could interfere with sleep quality.
Leaving these health risks undiagnosed can lead to further deterioration of your sleep quality. As such, you may need to speak with a sleep specialist to get access to targeted treatments or interventions.
By discussing your problems with a doctor, you can gain more actionable insight regarding your condition. They may even prescribe home treatments like a CPAP machine from CPAP Direct to get you to sleep more easily.
Get Your Child to Sleep Earlier
Even when you’ve done all you can to control your sleep environment, it’s not easy to sleep peacefully if your little tot sleeps late.
The easiest way to shift your sleep schedule to an earlier one is by adjusting your child’s own sleep schedule. Move it back an hour or two and let their circadian rhythm do their thing.
By doing this, you’ll have more time to wind down, and ultimately have more hours dedicated to sleep. This can leave you feeling more refreshed and energised the morning after.