Quiet your busy mom brain and relax with these sleep tips for moms.
I melt into my bed at the end of each day. The cozy comforter, that I thought about several times throughout the long day, gets pulled over my achy body. I let my head sink into my trusty old pillow.
It feels like a nice reward after a busy day filled with all the chaos that goes along with being a mom. A day filled with juggling kids, work schedules, and – of course- opening fruit snacks.
Unfortunately, even though my body and the logical part of my brain longs for the good night sleep it deserves, sleep doesn’t come easy.
The culprit: the rest of my brain, which is saturated with mom-guilt, unfulfilled to-do lists, and startling thoughts that really have no place in a comfortable bed.
This part of my brain is alert, ambitious, and fully prepared to nag the heck out of me for the better part of the night.
When a Good Night’s Sleep Feels Impossible
With the exception of my husband’s intermittent snores, my house is quiet after 10 pm each night. So, why is my brain screaming at me?
Why does a good night’s sleep feel like an unachievable dream?
While both organizations had great advice, it became instantly clear to me why I was having such a hard time sleeping.
All of these “sleep hygiene” tips were not designed for parents.
For example, these resources suggest maintaining a sleep routine, where you go to bed within the same 20 minute period every night. As much as I try to have a scheduled routine in our home, kids can be (and will be) unpredictable.
They also suggest using caffeine with caution and alcohol moderately, which many parents would agree can be easier said than done.
Experts recommend avoiding naps. If you are anything like me, if I get a chance to take a nap, I’ll laugh in your face if you try to stop me.
So, how DO parents get a good night’s sleep?
Realistic Sleep Tips Designed for Parents
If you dig a little deeper, you can find sleep tips that do really work for parents.
These 3 tips for moms are equally effective for parents who have a hard time falling asleep, and for those who have a hard time staying asleep.
Did you now Sensory Overload is Common for Moms? Learn about it here.
1. Bedtime Brain Dump
A brain dump is a great way to clear your head and push out all those nagging thoughts before they fester into stress while you are trying to sleep.
If this term is new to you, a brain dump is simply the act of dumping all the contents of your mind out. Some find that they need a paper and pencil to perform a brain dump, while others can do it in their head.
Print this worksheet to help guide you. Jot down whatever comes to your mind before going to bed each night, so that your thoughts don’t trace you back to these unanswered questions while trying to sleep.
Keep this by your bed each night. If you are awoken with thoughts that race through your mind, write them on the brain dump sheet to put them to rest.
2. Positive Affirmations
Research has proven the power of positive affirmations (or positive phrases used to challenge unhelpful thoughts).
There is actual MRI evidence suggesting that certain brain pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al., 2016). The part of the brain (called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) that is involved in positive valuation becomes more active when we consider our personal values (Falk et al., 2015; Cascio et al., 2016).
Before bed each night, take a few moments to recite these 10 positive self-awareness phrases to yourself.
3. If This Doesn’t Work: Reset
Sometimes we can’t exactly pinpoint what is keeping us up. If the sandman is still M.I.A. after you have done your brain dump and affirmations, get out of bed.
I know that sounds counter intuitive, but the American Sleep Association recommends that you don’t stay in bed awake for more than 5-10 minutes.
Get out of bed, get a drink of water, and sit in a chair in a dark room for a few minutes before returning to bed.
During this time, do not turn on the television or look at your phone. That will make it even more difficult to fall asleep.
Final Thoughts on Sleep Tips for Moms
While there is great advice out there for getting good quality sleep, it isn’t always realistic for parents.
These three sleep tips for moms will help you chase away those nighttime demons and finally get that overdue good night sleep.
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If this doesn't help, or you think something more serious is going on- consult with your physician.