Sleep is the great ally of parents. It helps rejuvenate us, helps us restore the taxing process of parenthood on our minds and bodies, and generally helps us gain a break from our loved, but often tiring little demons! However, unfortunately, all parents will know that sleep can often come in short supply. Even if you take it in turns to wake up and deal with your crying children (this can last even until their early teenage years for a range of issues, such as night sickness or terrors), sleep comes at a premium. So, sometimes it can be worthwhile to get the best quality sleep you can.
But how can you get better sleep as a parent? After all, this is not a purchase you can make from the night fairy, and it’s not something you can force. Often the more you tell yourself to go to sleep, the less you can actually fall asleep comfortably.
So, where’s the middle ground? How do we achieve further and better sleep without forcing it to happen? Here are some things to think about…
Keep it consistent
Keep your sleep schedule consistent. This can seem like a difficult ask, but it’s an important one, and will help your body help you. The more your body relies on a regular sleeping pattern (at least going to bed and waking up at the same time), the quicker it will fall asleep and the more easily it will do so. Remember, keeping it consistent means more than just jumping into bed at the right time.
It means taking your smartphone and placing it on vibrate (and preferably out of reaching distance) to ensure you won’t feel tempted to scroll your feeds. It also means avoiding coffee by a certain point at night (caffeine is the perennial ally, but also foe of parents depending on when it is consumed in the day).
Furthermore, if you have time, spend at least half an hour relaxing before bed. Reading can be a great benefit here, but so can meditating, or listening to peaceful music. That kind of peace can help you settle your thoughts, which is just what you need before you try and get to sleep. Consistency in your bedtime will also ensure consistency in your child bedtimes, which is important even as they become late-teenagers.
Reduce your exposure to blue light
Reducing your exposure to blue light is an essential component of getting to sleep more easily. In fact, blue light (known to affect your circadian rhythms thanks to it representing the light of the sun), can often rob you of an hour of deep sleep. This means learning to counteract this is important, especially if you use computer devices or televisions late at night.
Yet it’s hard to find apps like Flux or others to work ubiquitously with everything in tow. So, how can you counteract these problems? Well, blue light eyeglasses can be a great first option, granting you the means to reduce your overexposure to blue light while still serving as a worthwhile means of aiding your natural eyesight. This can serve a double purpose, and you will no doubt feel the quality of your sleep improve as a result.
Work on your sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene is essential to get right. It means ensuring you have clean bedsheets, and ensuring that your bedroom is clean and tidy. It means knowing that your bedroom is well ventilated either through a window locked in the ventilation position, or through an air fan and filter.
Sleep hygiene can also mean ensuring that you don’t eat anything sugary or consume caffeine before bed. Often, it means doing your best to secure a good night of sleep to secure a better night of sleep tomorrow, as waking up well-rested contributes to your mental health, which then cycles to make it easier next time you try and fall asleep. Sleep hygiene is your greatest asset as a parent – and it’s important to make the most of it.
Work on your child’s sleep issues
Work on your child’s sleeping issues. As a parent, this can mean applying all of the advice in this article and ensuring your children follow it. This might mean imposing a before-bed device ban, or taking them to a sleep specialist to help them with particular issues (that could be caused by medication and other issues). If you can care for them in this way, you’ll be more likely to find less variables contributing to poor sleep for you and your partner.
With this advice, hopefully you can get better sleep as a parent.