Who doesn't like unsolicited advice by a total stranger?

Being present: Sleep Hygiene

Hopefully, this is a post that makes me stick to new routines and improve my health. In the last few years, I have been sleeping poorly. Granted, having a child does not help. However, I seem to have difficulty sleeping regardless. My husband and son go to bed and I stay up, often until 1, when my son might (or not) wake up. I calm him and go to sleep. I sleep lightly until about 6.  6 to 9 have always been key hours for me, it’s either my most productive hours of the day (great workout time, great to do these tasks that I dislike and might procrastinate on) or the best time for my sleep.

The thing is that with a toddler, I find that I’m in a better humour if I wake up before him and have some me time. Still, often I’m so tired that I stay in bed until he wakes up.

So, what to do? What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I sleep at least 6 hours?

I have been reading about sleeping hygiene and trying to apply some of its principles. I say some, because when my toddler and husband go to bed at about 8 is when my me time begins. I can craft, write and think without disturbance. So, I don’t really know about going to bed at 9. I think I would need some more me time. At least until 10. Ideally, go to bed at 11 (says as she writes this post at 23.46)

According to the Sleep foundation these are some of the recommendations for a good night sleep:

  • Limiting day naps to 30 minutes (Well, I usually don’t have time for a nap. This one is easy).
  • Avoiding caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime (I’m safe on this one too)
  • Exercising (I am as consistent as I can be. I can really see a difference on my sleep when I’ve been a coach potato all day).
  • Steering clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep like fried food. (Light dinners, then)
  • Ensuring adequate exposure to natural light (This winter has been awful, very grey, no much light)

Dr. Lawrence Epstein, from Harvard University adds to this list the following recommendations:

  • Having a quiet, dark and cool bedroom (We got used a few years ago to turn the heat off at night and open the window for some fresh air. I think this also helps waking up)
  • Establish a Soothing Pre-Sleep Routine like reading before bed or meditating. (I have just started meditation and I’ve gone back to reading paper books. I want to avoid both Kindle and smartphone at night)
  • Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed.
  • Go to Sleep When You’re Truly Tired (Hmmm… don’t know what to say about this one. I feel tired most of the time. Maybe is just being a parent?)
  • Don’t Be a Nighttime Clock-Watcher (Nope)
  • Consistent Sleep Schedule (That’s one of the hardest for me, if I’m crafting or writing I lose the sense of time)

Being well rested is so important for your physical and mental health. It often gets overlooked. If you are a parent, then you will hear that you won’t have a good night sleep ever. Alternatively, you can read articles about how the eight-hour of sleep is a myth and the best is to micro-nap. Again, what to do?

Have I lost all the ability to sleep because my head is full of worries now that I’m a mother? Is it my son’s sleep pattern at fault? Or is it technology? I often scroll once more my Instagram only to discover an hour went by!

Who has the answer? In the meantime, I will try to follow these recommendations. Focus on going to bed at 11. Ditching the smartphone at 9 and enjoy the process of going to bed. I’ve included sleep hygiene in the Being Present series as I believe that one of the reasons I sleep so badly is that I don’t allow my self to fully enjoy sleep. I don’t allow my mind to disconnect prior to getting to bed. And why? Because I’m thinking about things that went or could go wrong instead of living in the here and now (here being the bed, now being a pitch-black night). Please tell me I’m not the only one going through this. Let me know if you have any tips.

As always, good luck!

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