Let me start by asking you one question, mom-to-mom, how are you sleeping?
I remember when my kids were little. It was so hard! Neither one was a good sleeper!
But I did know that sleep is one of the most important parts of every person’s day. So how do you go from sleep deprived mom to actually getting more sleep?
People out there that claim, “You can sleep when you’re dead,” but in reality, you will probably die a lot sooner if you don’t sleep.
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I am a person who loves sleep. When my husband and I got married I could sleep until noon every weekend and still sleep the next night.
Then we had kids… What a wake-up call!
If you think not sleeping is a good thing, then you probably haven’t had kids yet. But then, there is a difference between waking up several times a night with a scared or sick child, and just going to bed really late but still getting some solid hours in.
Speaking from experience,
And the more sleep deprived you are, the worse you will sleep.
How Does Sleep Reduce Stress?
This is kind of a “which came first” kind of thing. Sleeping more can help you reduce stress because you are obviously able to relax your mind and body enough to do so.
If you sleep more, you can get more of the things done during the day that you want to get done.
The problem, is if you are stressed, you usually can’t sleep. So do you need more sleep to reduce stress or do you need less stress to improve sleep?
Why do you sleep worse when you are sleep deprived?
When you don’t sleep, you have no energy to get things done, it’s as simple as that.
Mounds of laundry keep getting bigger. Packing lunches
Every item on your to-do list seems like a gargantuan
So what happens? You just don’t do those to-do list items. That is when things start piling up.
A little about my story
Look, I have been there…we all have. Kids are hard. Even once they are not babies any more, they still wake up at night.
They are scared or have to go to the bathroom or are hungry or sick…and the list goes on and on.
My kids have always been terrible sleepers!
I like to tell this story about watching my cousin’s daughter a few years ago. I was watching her because her grandma and grandpa were out of town so she needed someone to watch her for the week.
I will never forget the first time my cousin’s daughter walked up to me and said in her 2-year old voice, “I tired…I go night night…,”.
Seriously, I about fell over! After fighting my kids for years to take naps, here was this little girl who was telling me she was tired and wanted…yes I said WANTED to take a nap!
I put her in her pack-n- play and she went right to sleep. No crying, no fighting, no throwing a fit. Was this really possible?
It was then that I realized that I was in for a long few years because my kids just were not sleepers.
Some symptoms of sleep deprivation I experienced
Some of the symptoms I experienced from
- thinning hair
- body aches and pains
- double vision
- teeth grinding
- jaw pain
Since there was no chance in the near future that my kids were going to turn into good sleepers, I started learning about sleep so that I could at least help myself with some of the problems I was experiencing.
Sleep deprivation can cause all of the things I mentioned above. But even once my kids began sleeping better as they got older, I still couldn’t sleep!
I found out through research, that once you get into the habit of waking up at night and staying awake for periods of time, you basically have to retrain yourself to sleep the right way again.
To try to help myself, I tried SO many different things. But while they helped… they just didn’t solve the problem. I still couldn’t get good restful sleep.
But why wasn’t I sleeping if my kids were?
Worrying is what kept me awake at night.
I worried about all of the things I wasn’t getting done during the day.
Both the things I wanted to get done and also the things I needed to get done for my house/family.
Some nights I would be trying to fall asleep and realize that I had forgotten to pack lunches. Then I would worry about getting up in the morning and having enough time to pack them.
Things that needed to be done would swirl around like a tornado in my head. I would lay there making a list of what I needed to do the next day instead of sleeping.
Dreams about forgetting to wash a volleyball jersey or baseball uniform, when I knew we had a game the next day, would wake me in the middle of the night.
I was trying to remember the schedules for my whole family and myself all in my head! (Which is insanely crazy by the way!)
On top of the schedules, I was trying to remember to do laundry, clean, and run errands. I was trying to remember when the sheets needed to be changed and crazy things like when the furnace filter was changed last!
Then there were the tasks we only do once a year, like mulching. How many yards of mulch did we
Yeah…how can you sleep with all of that running through your head!
I wasn’t writing anything down because I was tired and stressed and just didn’t have the energy for that extra step.
But even when I did write things down. I wrote them on random notebook pages or pieces of paper. Then I would never be able to find them again.
Looking back now, I realize how everything was just snowballing into a bigger and bigger mess that stressed me out more and more.
The benefits of being organized
After trying just about everything else I could find by researching my problem, I finally figured out that I wasn’t sleeping because I was worrying.
I was legitimately trying to solve a different problem in my life, or so I thought I
But I didn’t figure out my sleep problem by googling it or researching it.
I was actually focusing on what was worrying me and finding solutions for those things when I figured it out.
I was truly trying to figure out a problem of cluttered closets where I couldn’t find anything.
Digging through loads of shoes on the floor by the door that
Not remembering appointments and being charged no-show fees.
Forgetting to pack lunches at night and having to rush to get them done in the morning.
I wanted to get these things working better in my life. Things I knew had fallen apart while I was so tired that I could hardly see straight. Let alone muster up enough energy to fix them.
And as a result of fixing these areas in my life, I wound up sleeping better than I had slept in years!
By getting organized in the areas that worried me and stressed me out, I stopped worrying about them at night! No more waking up to think in the middle of the night because I knew I had already done everything. I had created a system that made sure of that.
A Solution that works wonders for sleeping better and having less stress!
Tip #1 // STOP WORRYING!!!
HAHA! I know that’s funny right! But it is true. I am here to give you tips to try to sleep better. Ways that have actually worked for me.
And the number one tip I am giving you, as a stay at home mom, is to get organized so you can stop worrying. That is what finally worked for me.
I no longer lay awake wondering if I forgot to do something or if I will have enough time to get things done the next day.
I have routines in place. A calendar now keeps track of our schedules for sports, school, and doctor’s appointments. I write down everything that needs to be done for the week, month, and even year.
I am no longer just trying to “wing it” everyday.
If you are ready to stop “winging it” every day you can start by checking out some of my Get Organized Posts such as:
Get Out The Door Faster – With Kids!– which covers entry way organization.
6 Spectacularly Easy Steps to Total Kitchen Organization DIY – which goes over kitchen organization.
and last, but probably the most useful…
5 Super Easy Steps for Getting Organized– Which gives you steps to get organized anywhere in your home!
And once you have gotten organized…
Practice good sleep hygiene!
1. When And Where To Sleep
Studies have been done on when you should sleep and also where you should sleep. Scientists have determined that the best sleep practices to have are as follows.
Only nap for 30 minutes or less and not within 4-6 hours of bedtime.
Use your bed for sleeping at night and nothing else.
Examples of what not to do in bed are reading, watching TV, and working because they are all
Some studies say sex is okay, others say not to have sex in your bed. I guess you will have to determine what works for you. (Harvard Healthy Sleep )
What you can do…
Only sleep at night. Cutting out the daytime naps can be really difficult…I know!
But if you can do it, cutting out the extra sleep during the day will make you more tired at night so you sleep better.
2. Create A Schedule
Everyone’s body is on something called a Circadian Rhythm. What this means is that our bodies have a natural 24 hour pattern that they follow everyday. It is influenced but light, dark, genetics, hormones, and habits. (University Of Minnesota)
What you can do…
There are some things that are out of your control when it comes to the Circadian Rhythm, such as genetics and hormones.
But there are also things that you can control. Such as light, dark and your habits.
By creating a habit of going to bed and waking at the same time every day, you are essentially training your body to expect a certain thing at a certain time of day.
Think of how they tell you to have a bedtime routine for your children. This helps their bodies be aware of what is about to come next so they can go to sleep easier.
Same for adults. Routines are necessary.
Wake up, eat breakfast, throw in a load of laundry, work out, run errands.
Following a routine every morning and evening, even on the weekends, can help get your body back in sync.
When you do things at the same time, it alerts your body what time of day it is and gets you back into a good body rhythm.
3. Make Your Environment Relaxing
Studies have shown that the best environment for sleep is a dark, quiet room set at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
What you can do…
Earplugs or a white noise machine are great options for blocking out background noise like traffic or the dishwasher running.
As for keeping things really dark, make sure the door to your room is almost all the way closed so there is little to no light entering from the hallway.
4. Have A Relaxing Ritual
The last thing that studies have shown to work well is to have a nice relaxing ritual before bed.
What you can do…
This step was really hard for me mainly because it takes time. But finding time to do something relaxing after the kids go to bed, is a great way to wind down in the evenings.
Take a nice bath with your favorite bubble bath or bath bombs.
Read a relaxing book.
Do some light yoga.
Some additional things I have found that
work for me… but are not necessarily proven by professionals!
5. NOTHING SCARY OR DISTURBING LATE AT NIGHT
I can remember watching all the disturbing CSI shows and serial killer shows before I had kids. They didn’t seem to bother me then.
But once my kids came along, for some reason I just cannot stomach that stuff anymore. Probably has to do with the fact that I am scared to death these things could happen to my kids!
What to do…
Started to only watch things at night that are funny or have a pretty dull storyline. That way when you go to bed you will not have dreams about all the disturbing images you saw on TV!
6. MEDITATION BEFORE BED
I know there are a lot of women and even men out there that have a hard time turning off their brains at night. All of our daily responsibilities bleed into the nighttime when we are supposed to be sleeping.
We worry if we finished everything for the day. Did we remember to give the kids their medicine, did we remember to pack lunches? And on top of it all, we don’t just worry about us now. But we carry our children’s worries as well. All of those things can stress us out enough to not be able to fall asleep.
What to do…
I actually got this tip from my physical therapist. If you don’t know about my back problems, you can read my story here.
Knowing that sleep helps heal your body, she believes sleep is very important. So she suggested I try an app for progressive relaxation.
There are a variety of apps out there you can try. I went through about 20 before I found one that really worked for me. But the idea behind it is that it helps you refocus your mind and relax the muscles in your body.
In the beginning, it was hard to be still through it, but now, I am asleep before it finishes. It has made a huge difference in the quality of my sleep.
The other thing I cannot advocate more is getting yourself organized. Not having to remember everything
7. READ A BORING BOOK
This goes along with a good nighttime ritual, but I take it a step further. This is something I learned from my years in college.
I can remember studying for a BIO or CHEM test and falling asleep every time I would try.
Read books that are informational. Books that work on making you a better person or …hey…helping you get organized! Trust me. If nobody is being murdered in your book, you will get tired pretty quickly!
8. NO CAFFEINE AFTER LUNCH
There are different views on this. Some studies say not to drink caffeine at all, some say not in the afternoon, and some say not for 4-6 hours before bed.
Caffeine is one of those chemicals that disrupts our daily circadian rhythm. When our body is telling us it is tired, we just feed it some caffeine to shut it up! If you do this before bedtime, the effects are predictable…you won’t sleep.
I love this caffeine free tea for the afternoons
9. NO EXERCISE IN THE EVENING
Exercise is great for sleep. It gets your blood flowing for relaxation, it helps you relax your mind by focusing on something besides work or kids, and it uses up some of your energy.
These are all great things…just not at night.
Exercising releases adrenaline and endorphins that give us energy. When you work out, you get your metabolism going which is the system that uses energy.
If your metabolism, adrenaline, and endorphins are all up, you will not sleep well because your body thinks it is time to go instead of stop.
10. TURN YOUR CLOCK AROUND
When you start looking at the alarm clock every time you wake up, it trains your body to do that every night.
Your mind and body expect to wake up and look at the clock, it anticipates it. That is why you wake up at the same time every night.
What you can do…
Turn your clock around. The alarm will still go off in the morning!
Overall, sleep is such an essential commodity in our lives. And also one that we take for granted. Make sure you make your overall quality of life better by getting better quality sleep.
And remember my number one tip for sleeping better! Get yourself organized!
Thanks for reading!
P.S. – Remember to Pin this so you can find it when you want to refer back!