It’s no secret that sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Countless studies recommend at least 7 hours of sleep for an adult. And yet, we undersleep. A lot.
More than a third of adults in the U.S. report getting under the 7-hour recommendation on average. To make matters worse, new parents lose an additional 109 minutes of that blissful slumber once the little one arrives.
Even when the kids start sleeping through the night, it’s easy for parents to remain sleep-deprived. They get up early to get the kids on the bus. They stay up late to get things done — or get a few minutes to themselves.
The good news is, even if you can’t get the quantity of sleep you need, improving the quality can help. Here are a few tips to ensure that you’re getting restful, restorative sleep whenever your head hits the pillow.
It may feel like you’re splurging to spend money on your own sleep — especially when you’re raising a family. But the truth is if you’re sleeping well, your whole family benefits.
With that in mind, make sure your sleeping equipment is up to the task of delivering a high-quality night’s sleep. Start with your mattress and pillow. You don’t need top-of-the-line items. Just make sure that they support you well.
From there, consider other details about your sleeping gear. Do you have comfortable pajamas? What about sheets that keep you warm or cool depending on the weather? If you’re managing something like sleep apnea, does your CPAP mask fit comfortably or do you need to get a better model for your particular head size and sleep positions?
The last thing you want is for your sleep gear to be the very thing that’s holding you back from good sleep. Start there before you introduce any new techniques into your sleep strategy.
Next up, consider how well your sleeping environment is designed to facilitate your sleep. This may seem obvious. You have a bed and pillow. You keep your sheets clean. But the devil is in the details.
For instance, do you have black-out curtains that can help you keep your room dark? As a parent, you might find that you’re trying to nap or sleep in on a Saturday to make up for a rough night. When that happens, the ability to control the lighting can help you stay undisturbed as you rest.
There are other factors besides light that impact your sleep environment, too. If you live in a small house, you might want to utilize a white noise machine to block out sudden noises that might wake you up (only do this if someone else is watching your child, of course.)
You can also use aromatherapy to encourage your mind to rest and relax. There are many essential oils that are particularly good for sleep. Pop some in a diffuser before you turn out the lights.
It’s tempting to crash on your bed and sleep as long as possible, regardless of the current state of your bedroom. However, if you take the time to set the stage beforehand, it can help you get longer, deeper sleep.
As a parent, you probably spend enough time creating routines for your kids. The last thing you want to do is overly structure your own time. And there’s no doubt that it’s nice to have some unplanned free time when you can.
When it comes to sleep, though, a lack of structure can be detrimental to both your sleep quality and quantity. Regarding quantity, most of us operate with some kind of alarm in the morning. Whether it’s work, getting the kids ready for school, or other demands, responsibilities often force us to wake up earlier than our bodies might prefer.
And yet, too often, we opt to stay up late and leave our “bedtime” undefined. If you want to maintain restful, restorative sleep, set a bedtime. You won’t regret it. This doesn’t have to be a hard deadline. Instead, choose a period of time, like between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., to help you start getting ready for bed.
Along with bedtime, you can improve your sleep by creating a routine beforehand. Start with basics, like the need to get into pajamas and brush your teeth. Then add in items that you know help you relax, like reading a book or taking a calming bath.
You can also adjust your routine earlier in the day. For example, it’s recommended that getting consistent exercise somewhere in your day can improve your sleep quality.
In addition, avoid blue light before sleeping. If possible, put away your phone and turn off the television two or even three hours before you turn out the lights.
There are many factors that impact a good night’s sleep. As an adult, and especially a parent, it’s wise to proactively ensure that these elements are helping rather than hindering your slumber.
So, go over your gear, address your environment, and rely on routines and rhythms to ensure that you’re getting restful and restorative sleep each and every night.