Getting a good night’s sleep is wonderful for your mental health, but the minute you add kids to the equation your well-earned shut-eye goes out the window. It’s well documented that most parents will only sleep on average four hours and 44 minutes for the first year. If you are currently trying to claw back some of your precious time, then you have come to the right place!
1) Eat supper with your children
While you might think that eating at the same time as your kids is too early, it actually helps get you into a calm rhythm for bedtime. By eating later in the evening, it can have negative effects on your body’s release of melatonin. Your body is spending the time trying to process the food you have just consumed, rather than spending it getting you ready for bed!
One thing that does help is a high carbohydrate meal, so a bowl of pasta four hours before bed can help aid in sleep. But as with everything, another study proved that a low carbohydrate diet also improves sleep quality!
2) Spend time in the sun
If you are struggling to get to sleep easily, then one of the best things to do is to camp outside for a weekend. The circadian rhythm of going to sleep when it is dark and waking up when it is light is one of the best ways of beating insomnia.
If you don’t have the time to go camping for a week, then making sure that you get lots of sunlight and fresh air will help people fall to sleep much quicker, and often into a deeper sleep improving the quality of your rest. This can be as little as two hours of bright sunlight, which can increase your sleep by two hours and efficiency by 80%.
As most workplaces are now inside offices, it is very important to try and go outside as much as possible. This is also true of little babies, with the Scandinavians leaving them to nap outside in up to -10°c.
3)Try and keep a consistent schedule
As your body’s natural rhythm aligns with the sunrise and sunset, it is only natural that keeping a consistent sleeping pattern can help with sleep and its quality. This does mean going to bed at the same time at the weekends, as otherwise, you will wake up on Monday feeling groggy.
Some studies have shown that irregular sleeping patterns alter your natural rhythm and melatonin levels which tell your brain to sleep, making it harder for you to fall asleep.
4) Turn off your screens!
While exposure to light during the day is beneficial in getting that shut-eye, light exposure at night has the opposite effect! The circadian rhythm gets messed up looking at screens and thinks that it’s still daytime, which reduces your ability to relax into a deep sleep. The blue light that all computers and smartphones emit hinders the production of melatonin and keeps you awake. While this might be the only time you can catch up on the news, it’s stopping you from chasing those sheep! For sleep optimisation, try to avoid screens for two hours before bed.
5) Have a relaxing bath
A relaxing bath or shower can often help to send one to sleep, with older adults particularly feeling the benefits. One study shows that a hot bath 90 minutes before bed aids in sleep quality and allows people to get a deeper sleep. If you are desperately trying to get back those hours of shut-eye, then this is the perfect and relaxing excuse to have a lovely long soak!
6) Don’t drink coffee after lunch!
While caffeine has numerous benefits and is everyone’s aid in getting up in the morning, it is your worst friend when trying to go to sleep at night. It overstimulates your nervous system stopping your body from performing its natural relaxation procedure when you are trying to sleep.
Even consuming it up to six hours before bed worsens your sleep quality because it stays elevated in your blood for six to eight house. Try to avoid drinking after 3 pm, and stick to decaff if you really cannot avoid it!
7) Invest in a comfy pillow and mattress
Your bed quality affects your sleep, with one study highlighting that sleeping in a new mattress for 28 days reduces back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and sleep quality went up by 60% as well. This really does enhance sleep quality, with poor bedding being linked to lower back pain.
All bedding is subjective, some people find that soft feather pillows work best, while others require pillows as firm as a rock. While it can be an expensive solution to sleep problems, it can often be a quick one to resolve.