Before having Frankie, I’d always considered myself a night owl. I’d never been one to practice good sleep habits and occasionally this would catch up with me. I’d compensate for my fatigue by having random naps or by sleeping in late. But, since my son’s arrival, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that this “catch up” may never have been the best approach and was something I couldn’t continue doing. (Trust me, this is not for lack of trying. I repeatedly tried to snuggle with my little boy to see if he might want those few extra minutes/hours of shut-eye. No dice).
My band-aid approach to solving tiredness had to be retired. I felt like my own Captain Obvious when it finally dawned on me that unless I prioritize and ensure I have proper rest, I don’t feel energized or cope as well as I want to (especially as a parent).
Since realizing I needed better “sleep hygiene” I’ve made some key changes to my nighttime routine. Actually, I developed a nighttime routine, something I never really had in the past. Here are the sleep habits I now follow:
- Wearing a sleep mask and ear plugs. Using a sleep mask I block out any light I can, plus my urge to look around into the darkness. I don’t think I realized how much light was keeping me from sleeping soundly. Having sort of, kind of, sleep trained my son, I now know my sleep mask would be referred to as a sleep “prop” (something strongly associated with sleep). For a baby, a sleep prop may be a soother or a stuffed teddy. For me it’s the sleep mask and my beloved ear plugs. I wear ear plugs so that most noise is blocked out while I’m falling asleep. I wear them loose enough so they fall out soon after I’m asleep (as reported by husband who finds them randomly dispersed throughout our bed).
- Having a set bedtime (mine is 10:30, but my goal is to bump it up to 10). This is something I always knew was necessary for children. Now I understand the reason behind said necessity. Children reach a particular level of wildness when they become overtired and, considering adults belong to the same species, it makes sense that we too may be prone to unfortunate behaviours when overtired (i.e. mass overconsumption of caffeine, general grumpiness, extreme cases of the Mondays, etc.) I think my Netflix account needs a parental control so that it shuts down at a specific time each night. This would greatly improve my adherence to my bedtime.
- Leaving technology out of reach from the bedside and covering the clock. The force is strong with this one. I cannot believe how many times I have been beyond the point of exhaustion and still managed to read random things on my phone for extended periods of time. Seriously, why I am so well versed on what Wikipedia has to say about John Hughes, the inception of Facebook, and Amy Schumer’s rise to fame? An equally perplexing exhaustion pastime of mine used to be to repeatedly look at the clock. The blinding red light taunted me whenever I couldn’t fall asleep. My mind would tell me, “don’t do it, don’t look!” But I always would. As I need a clock for my alarm, now that my phone is far away from my bed, I’ve covered it up with something (a wedding photo actually, aww).
What are your sleep tips?