Before I gave birth to Chase, I considered myself a fairly good sleeper. I didn’t really have any sleep issues and for the most part went to bed at a decent time, fell asleep with relative ease and didn’t have any long durations of time I spent awake in the middle of the night.
Fast forward to the end of last summer when I became a mom and my sleep habits changed dramatically. I’ve been pretty candid on this blog when it comes to sharing my sleep struggles after the birth of our baby boy. The four-month sleep regression hit us hard and for a while there (even though I honestly didn’t feel like we had much good sleep to regress from at that point…) and I often found myself dreading bed time because I knew long nights awaited me almost every single night. For a solid six months, I was typically up three times a night to nurse and soothe Chase and even though our experience with sleep training last month has definitely changed things for the better, I am still struggling to sleep well.
Chase is doing much better and while he will still wake up in the middle of the night from time to time, I am waking up in the middle of the night much more often than my almost eight month old baby boy. I think this seems to go with the territory of being a mom, but I have noticed that there are a few things I can do that make falling back asleep in the middle of the night a little easier and today I am teaming up with Sleep Number® to share them with you. Since 54 percent of Americans do not feel like they are getting enough quality sleep (according to a recent Sleep Number survey), I hope some of these simple tips will resonate with a few of you guys out there who may be in a similar boat!
Reestablishing Good Sleep Habits (Falling Back Asleep After Waking Up In The Middle Of The Night)
- Do NOT Touch My Phone
This is KEY for me. Looking at my phone is a surefire way to stimulate my brain and keep me up WAY longer than I need to be, especially in the middle of the night. I keep my phone out of reach from my bedside and this is crucial because it is so tempting to grab it to check emails at 3 a.m. when my mind is racing a mile a minute.
- Read Self-Help or Parenting Books
If I really cannot turn my mind off, I’ve found that reading a book will often make my eyes feel heavy. I try to steer clear of gripping or suspenseful novels and stick to self-help or parenting books for my middle-of-the-night reading streaks. (I’m pretty sure I read most of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child at 2 a.m.) They’re less intense and I’m more likely to get tired reading an informative book than I am a novel that’s a serious page-turner.
- Make a To Do List
This tip might seem a little crazy, but I often find myself running thought a list of things I need to do when I am awake in the middle of the night. Thinking about everything I need to accomplish the following day can stress me out and make me feel even more awake, so I’ve started keeping a small notepad and a pen next to my bed so I can write down my to do list right then and there. Something about creating a list makes me feel like I have a better grasp on the day ahead and rather than telling myself not to forget to do x, y and z in my head the next day, I write it down which seems to help me relax a bit since I know I won’t forget about important tasks that pop in my head in the middle of the night.
- Go To Bed Earlier
This one seems a little obvious, but something about going to bed earlier makes me feel less stressed when I find myself up in the middle of the night. I tend to count how many hours of sleep I have under my belt when I wake up in the middle of the night and then do that horrible thing I know so many of us do when we calculate how many hours we’ll get in total if we fall asleep immediately which seems to create a vicious cycle of sleep-related stress. When I can “front load” my sleep, I tend to feel better about the number of hours of sleep I will get each night, which for some crazy reason seems to make it easier for me to go back to sleep when I wake up for no reason.
Watching TV or using computers and phones before bed stimulates the brain and the blue light from screens can make it harder to get quality sleep. Though it can be hard on nights when I find myself working from the computer after dinner, for the most part I try to take Sleep Number’s advice and stay away from electronics and television an hour before bed. Reading is my favorite way to wind down.
- Focus on Relaxing My Body
This is a tip that I first learned from Ryan and initially used to try to help myself fall asleep at the beginning of the night but it will often work to help me return to sleep when I am wide awake in the middle of the night, too. I focus on relaxing my entire body, beginning at the very tips of my toes and working my way up to the top of my head. I concentrate on releasing tension from everywhere… My ankles, knees, hips, chest, fingers…Focusing on relaxing my body feels almost a meditative and can often help calm my restlessness.
Exercising regularly is so important for my personal sleep. I feel like I can truly tell a difference in the way that I sleep on days when I do workout versus days when I don’t. After a day that includes a good sweat session, I typically feel more peaceful at night and not nearly as restless. I try to do something active every day, whether it be a boot camp class, an at home circuit workout or a long walk around the neighborhood with my family. Exercise, a healthy diet and quality sleep are all incredibly important when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle.
- Avoid Caffeine After 11 a.m.
Coffee quickly became a staple in my morning routine after Chase was born. I look forward to a cup (or two) of coffee every day but space them out and avoid caffeine after 11 a.m. I find that drinking coffee or any caffeinated beverage too late in the day negatively affects my sleep at night, so I try to steer clear after 11 a.m.
Questions of the Day
- Do you struggle with sleep at night? Is there anything you personally do to help yourself fall back asleep when you wake up in the middle of the night?
- How many hours of sleep do you feel like you need a night to feel your best?
I never used to struggle much with sleep before I became pregnant and then I was quite restless, especially in my third trimester. Then, after Chase was born, my sleep definitely changed for the worse.
To feel my best, I feel like I need at least seven hours of sleep, but eight is ideal!
Disclaimer: This blog post is sponsored by Sleep Number and I truly appreciate your support. Thank you!!