Judy Finelli, Health & Lifestyle Coach
There isn’t a new mom out there who doesn’t wish she could have an extra hour of un-interrupted sleep. Crying babies with hefty appetites have you on call as you daydream of slipping an Ambien to get some shut eye and feel renewed. What a gift it would be to sleep 7-8 hrs straight and feel normal for a day, huh?
From one sleep deprived, busy mom to another, I totally get it. And as a holistic health coach, I want to make clear that I’m not promoting drugs to get you through the day. I do empathize with you about this conflict that unless you’re a mom, you couldn’t possibly understand. The truth is that when you give birth there is so much to worry about that the things that were once simple, practical and attainable, like getting enough sleep, are now a challenge but with some careful orchestration can be managed and hopefully resolved for good.
Whether your reasons for not getting enough rest is in the mind or as real as labor pain, the struggle to wake up bright-eyed when your children are small is intense. As you know, our bodies require rest to recover and our cells do too. Sleep helps the body rejuvenate and without it, the body becomes vulnerable to a myriad of negative effects such as disease and mishandling your child due to impatience, lack of foresight, and impaired judgement due to not sleeping enough.
From someone who has never depended on unhealthy methods to alleviate my sleep deprivation, here are a handful of ways that you can manage without losing your mind:
- Commit to getting to bed at a reasonable hour: FOR YOU: When your child wakes up in the middle of the night, you would at least have had some hours of rest to manage the situation at hand (diaper change, feedings, teething issues, etc) FOR YOUR CHILD: try to get your baby on a routine knowing that sometimes it won’t be perfect but some structure will be key in order for you to have time for yourself.
- Unplug before hitting the sack: Turn off all electronics including your television. Having a t.v. in the bedroom is a distraction and sucks up a great deal of energy in the room. Also, if you must use your cellphone as your alarm clock in the morning, try to swap it for a real alarm clock that suits your needs and give your phone a rest. When your smartphone is at hands reach at night, it is enticing to check email and social media apps which will keep you up.
- Keep a baby video monitor near: Sometimes your child needs you to pick him or her up but there isn’t anything wrong with allowing your child to self soothe too. The video monitor could be helpful in determining if you need to dash to the crib or have your little one self soothe. Believe me, this was tough one for me with my first baby but with my second, I have learned my lesson.
- Quiet your mind before bed: When you’re exhausted, stress will creep in quickly and rampant thoughts can occupy your mind uncontrollably. Meditation, prayer, or breathing in and out deeply can help soothe your mind and prepare it for rest.
- Sip some Chamomile tea: This light tea is awesome to help you catch some zzz’s and soothe a busy mind.
- Read a book or write in a journal: This helps quiet the mind even when it seems impossible but be sure not to stay up all night doing so! If possible, give yourself 15 minutes to do this and then turn off the lights.
- Ambient music: Light sounds found in nature can be helpful for both you and your children as well. There are alarm clocks that have these sounds already programmed making it accessible without having your favorite music app running all night.
These are some stress free steps you can take on your own to alleviate your sleeping issues without medication. Know that working out, eating well, and being properly hydrated throughout the day will help you have the energy you need to get through the day and sleep well at night. One thing that I NEVER do before bed is watch the news. That alone will keep me up. Do what feels right and practical for your lifestyle and figure out what can be part of a healthy evening routine.
Honorable mentions to be added to the list: a warm bath or shower and of course, love making with your Honey is also just as important for sleeping well and releasing tension. Connecting with your Love will keep the romance alive in your relationship even when days are full of kiddie related stuff, and is just as important for a healthy partnership.
I hope these tips help. Lastly, if your sleep deprivation derives solely from being a new mom, I promise it won’t last forever, so hang in there. If you are feeling depressed and/or the sleep issues don’t improve, consult your doctor or specialist right away.
Lots of luck and be well!
Judy Finelli, AADP is an Integrative Nutrition Health & Lifestyle Coach for women; graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, writer, blogger & avid food photographer. She lives in New York with her husband and two young children. You can connect with her at thathealthychica.com
Disclaimer: The words in this article are not meant to diagnose or “cure” health issues. Please consult your physician before making lifestyle alterations that could compromise your health and safety.