Oh sleep, you are a tricky beast. I never really had any sleep issues until I became pregnant. Along with pregnancy came lots of restless nights, the inability to get comfortable, night sweats and multiple wakings in the middle of the night. Once Chase arrived, I knew my sleep patterns were going to be affected but I figured all would calm down and my sleep would return to (relative) normal after a few months.
Well, that was a big fat joke. I can count the number of times I’ve slept for 5+ hours straight without waking up at least once on one hand since Chase’s birth. For the first six months or so, I could blame our baby. It took us a while to feel comfortable dabbling in sleep training, so I was nursing regularly in the night until Chase was a little over six months old. Then sleep improved a bit… Mostly for Chase but for me a little bit, too.
Just because Chase was no longer waking up in the middle of the night didn’t mean I miraculously drifted off into a glorious deep sleep every night. Unfortunately on most nights that wasn’t the case. Now, almost 11 months postpartum, I find myself waking up regularly, even on nights when Chase doesn’t make a peep. I blame it on new mom anxiety, as I cannot help but continue to check the baby monitor regularly, but also on the fact that baby sleep is always, always changing. We’ll go from two weeks of great sleep to a week of terrible sleep with no (obvious) explanations. It keeps me on my toes and also awake at night a lot, that’s for sure!
Earlier this month, Ryan and I received one heck of an awesome gift from my friends at Sleep Number® and upgraded our mattress to one of their incredibly comfortable i8 beds. I was so ridiculously excited about this upgrade because our current mattress has always been a little too firm for me and ever since I was pregnant, I’ve been sleeping with a little pillow between my knees to help alleviate hip pain. Now, with the DualAir™ technology in the mattress, Ryan and I can each select the setting that is most comfortable to us – a slightly softer mattress for me and a firmer one for him – and also check in to see our sleep data from the night before without wearing any trackers thanks to SleepIQ® technology.
SleepIQ technology works with the DualAir technology to track your average breathing rate, heart rate, movement and bed presence to give you a score in the morning to rate your quality of sleep. This is absolutely fascinating to me and Ryan and I are a little too obsessed with checking our scores and comparing them to each other. (Spoiler alert: Ryan’s quality of sleep is better than mine nine times out of ten.)
Ever since we received the new bed and have been checking in with our SleepIQ score, I’ve found it interesting to see what impacts my sleep for better, worse or not at all. Below you will find some of my recent findings.
Impact Of My Habits On My Sleep
- Impact of Exercise: Positive
I kind of expected this result, but there were a few things about tracking my sleep on days when I worked out that surprised me. My sleep was undoubtedly better most nights after I worked out in the day, but I seemed to sleep best after cardio workout days, when compared to days that my workouts were primarily strength based.
- Impact of Reading Before Bed: Positive
On nights when I read before bed, my sleep in the beginning of the night was more sound than the nights when I didn’t read before bed and did something else. (This is bad news for my Monday night Bachelorette viewing habit!) I LOVE the findings of this one since it encourages me to read more before bed, which is something I absolutely love to do. I tossed and turned less in the few hours after I went to bed on nights when I read before bed when compared to other non-reading nights.
- Impact of Eating Dinner Close to Bedtime: Negative
Ryan and I eat dinner fairly early but on the few nights this past month when we ate a large meal right before bedtime, I actually noticed my sleep was impacted a bit! The impact wasn’t overly dramatic, but I seemed more restless at night (especially in the beginning of the night) when I ate a big meal close to bedtime.
- Impact of Caffeine: Neutral
I’ve already blogged about how I try to steer clear of caffeine after 11 a.m. most days and so for me, consuming a cup of coffee or two in the morning didn’t seem to impact my sleep at all. I tried cutting coffee out completely a handful of times without altering other habits and my sleep score didn’t improve or get any worse. I consider this a victory for my coffee habit!
- Impact of My Sweet Tooth: Negative
Ugh. I was kind of hoping eating more sugar during the day wouldn’t effect my sleep but unfortunately it did. I was actually surprised by how much more I seemed to wake up in the night and have trouble getting back to sleep (<— the bigger issue) on nights when I ate more sugar during the day than usual.
- Restless Baby: Negative
Do I really need to dive into this bullet point? Probably not. Without a doubt, the biggest impact on my sleep patterns centered around Chase’s sleep patterns. Though I still tend to wake up in the middle of the night even when Chase doesn’t, I definitely sleep better on nights when he sleeps soundly compared to nights when he fusses, babbles or moves around a lot in his crib.
- Evening Walk: Neutral
I thought an evening walk would positively effect my sleep, but it ended up being rather neutral. I actually had a harder time falling asleep and seemed to toss and turn more in the beginning of the night on nights when we took Sadie and Chase out for a longer evening walk but slept better and more soundly after the first few hours, so it ended up being a bit of a wash.
Question of the Day
Now I’d love to hear from you…
- What habits in your everyday life do you think impact your sleep most?
- Do you feel like you sleep better when you exercise?
- Do you notice any positive or negative effects of caffeine or eating close to bedtime on your sleep habits?
I don’t notice that exercising impacts my sleep…… unless I exercise too late in the evening. If I exercise too late (anytime past 7pm) I cannot sleep. I also know that I have to have a “sleep routine” just like your app suggests! I have to wind down and let my body know I am going to bed. That involves reading, drinking tea and taking a shower.
We purchased a sleep number bed with the tracking technology about two years ago. It is the BEST purchase we have ever made, I’m seriously in love with our bed! They are pricey but worth every penny.
We really are loving it!!!
I try not to eat past 8pm since I usually aim for bed between 9 and 10 and notice if I eat late getting and staying asleep is really hard. If I exercise at some point in the day I do think I am more tired at night and sleep better. It also helps is I have some wind down time in bed. I usually get into bed by 9:30 and read on my phone for a bit and then get tired. I know they say technology before bed isnt good but laying in bed with my phone does get me tired. I think it is the comfiness of my bed too though. We got a new bed 2 years ago and after having the same mattress at home for 15+ years it was a welcome change and I sleep better.
Julie, it sounds like your anxiety and sleep problems are at a point where you should seek some outside help in the form of a therapist. This isn’t meant to be an attack at all (I see a therapist for anxiety!), but it may help you sleep better.
I appreciate the suggestion! I honestly don’t feel like it’s unbearable — it’s just a pain to wake up a lot more than anything right now (and mostly due to Chase’s ALWAYS changing sleep patterns)! I know it’s kind of hard to explain in words in a brief blog post, but it’s more frustrating than debilitating right now. I absolutely appreciate your advice and truly have no reservations about seeing a therapist if I feel like I need one in the future and will absolutely keep your suggestion in mind.
Ah. I’ve been having semi-erratic sleep patterns since my twins were born… 4 years ago. Initially I had anxiety over losing sleep as I have a demanding job that keeps me away from the house early mornings and late nights- but I quickly learned to embrace it. As babies get older they need less sleep leaving less time for myself. Sometimes when the rest of the house is asleep is my absolute favorite time of the night. I am unashamedly enjoying a glass of wine and a cheese stick as I type this. I figure that this stage of my life shall pass, just like many of the others I’ve been through since having babies… So I’m just trying to take it all in and be grateful for a little extra time for myself in the dead of night. So what if I would kill for a nap around 3 in the afternoon. So would the “me before babies”… But now I really deserve that feeling and have read a couple more non-fiction books to make me feel all the more self-righteous about my feeling of deserving a nap that I know I won’t get. Deep breaths and find some good reading … Like this blog!! ☕️? Love! Sleep deprived moms of all ages everywhere!!
Heather @ Polyglot Jot says
This is so interesting! I definitely think im hugely impacted by caffeine and i cant have any past the late morning/ear;y afternoon. I know that if I’m blogging and then go right to sleep i toss and turn and dont sleep as soundly but when i have at least an hour of no screen time before bed, i sleep way better!
Agree!! I think limiting screen time before bed definitely helps me sleep better!
Hi Julie – I’ve been going back through your Chase updates and our little guys (I have a 3 month old) seem pretty similar so it’s been fun reading 🙂 I knew we would have sleepless nights but I never thought I’d be wide awake while my baby was sleeping, even when exhausted. It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one!
You’re definitely not alone!!
Patricia @Sweet And Strong says
I definitely feel that exercise helps me sleep better. I usually have no trouble falling asleep after a busy day. What I know impacts my sleep is when I know my husband is going to be home late so I wait up for him trying not to fall asleep on the couch. I’ve always wanted to try the sleep number beds, glad you hear you had a positive experience.
Exercise always makes me sleep better!! 🙂 Otherwise I can feel rather restless at night. Essential Oils also help me a ton 🙂
I’m finding that getting up early to workout (a little before 5) is helping me to go to bed earlier, and actually fall asleep quickly. I’m enjoying a deeper sleep, and it’s feeling pretty easy to get up when the alarm goes off. I never thought I’d be happy to give myself a 9:30 bedtime, but it’s not so bad. 🙂
I take an OTC melatonin pill each night before bed and that helps a ton! I have a 7 month old daughter so I’m all too familiar with the middle of the night and early morning wake ups! The pill helps ensure I fall asleep quickly and get some quality sleep early on as I have a hard time falling back asleep if she wakes up in the night. One other thing we do that helps: my husband and I alternate nights. So one night is mine and I’m on call for anything from the time we go to bed all the way through to her early morning wake up until 6:45 am when our alarm goes off. Sometimes the night totally sucks but then you know the next night you don’t have to worry at all and can sleep solidly! It has worked really well for us.
Tess Van Gorder says
It’s so funny that this post comes the morning after I had an absolutely horrible night of sleep. One of those, toss and turn for hours while your mind races and you cannot seem to get comfortable whatsoever, nights of sleep. I think I woke up every 2 hours or so once I was finally able to conk out. I attribute it partially to my 2 pm cup of iced coffee and also getting sucked into watching funny vine videos for 20 minutes before I settled into my book (currently reading Defending Jacob, thanks to your suggestion!). No more late afternoon coffees for me! Limiting screen time is also huge for me and an ongoing battle, but I definitely notice a difference in how quickly I fall asleep, as well as how often I wake up throughout the night whenever I don’t look at my phone/watch TV before bed. Thanks for testing out a few methods. Very interesting!
When I do something relaxing before bed I sleep better. Tea, reading, yoga or meditation are my favorites.
We will need a new mattress in the next couple years so I may see if I can talk my husband into this one!
I’ve been reaching for essential oils on the nights when I have trouble falling asleep and it amazes me how much it helps! I’ve been using Vetiver from doTERRA and I just place a drop on my wrist and rub them together and inhale from the bottle – and honestly after laying there for 30 minutes awake, I’m usually out in 5-10 minutes. And we diffuse this for our 3 year old and half the time we fall asleep in her room because it just clears your mind.
And I’ve never had a problem hearing the kids when they wake up during the night which is why it took me so long to start using it. 🙂
I love watching a show before bed but sadly I can tell it impacts my sleep. I am with you on reading, it definitely helps me fall asleep quicker.
Angie Ballenger says
Julie, my youngest is 18 and will begin college this fall. It still panics me when I have slept longer than 5 hours especially when my son is out for the evening and i didn’t hear him come in…I find myself jumping out of bed and looking for his car in the driveway. Once i see it, i can usually go back to sleep. Mom’s anxiety over her children kicks in the minute their born and I don’t think it ever goes away. My mom still calls to check on me. 🙂
By the way, I read “Defending Jacob.” Great read!
I have a 10 month old boy also and am right there with you on only having a few nights where I’ve slept more than 5 hours at a time. I do fall asleep much quicker when I do 5-10 minutes of meditation before bed.
Linz @ Itz Linz says
i definitely sleep better when i exercise! william effects my sleep the most lol i am sleep training him so we are both on a mattress together on the floor. OY. can’t wait for step two when he’s back in his crib!!!!!!!!
This is such a great post!!!! One of the most important reads I have ever read thank you so much for sharing it!!! Now for some early dinners and deep sleeps!
My sleep has changed ever since having my baby almost 11 months ago. He could sleep thru the night, but my body is used to waking up a couple times a night and has been ever since I was prego (waking to pee in the middle of the night), then because baby needed me. I dont know if it will ever go back to normal. But it is amazing on what you can accomplish on such little sleep, healthy no, but doable (surprisingly).
This is so interesting. I have always been a night owl, but slept well. Lately I seem to take after my mother and can rarely get a restful, good night’s sleep. I always wonder if it’s what I eat, how much exercise, but lately I just can’t shut off my brain. I am desperately in need of a new mattress, but it’s not in the budget quite yet. What a great gift from Sleep Number!
Annie Kreikemeier says
Love this post. I am actually a horrible sleeper. I’m a worrier, so I know that had lots to do with it!! I find routine (going to bed and waking up at the same time) helps me a ton, as does turning my phone off an hour before bed, taking a bath, & reading. I’ve also been using the Calm app on my phone, which has a specific meditation series for sleep.
Maggie L says
Thanks for this post: the part about sugar is interesting. I have A 2 month old so sleep is definitely on my mind! Maybe I need to look into a sleep number…
Girl, sounds like it’s time to turn off the baby monitor! I know at our house we will hear our daughter if she needs us; we don’t need the monitor at night. Plus it’s mommy instinct I think (in my case) to wake up if you know something’s not right. I would too sleep terrible with the monitor on and then one night turned it off and we have ever since. I encourage you to at least give it a try!
Agreed!! We use white noise too, and i still hear my daughter when she needs me.. You will hear him for sure, when he needs you! Free yourself from the monitor!! .
Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday says
Exercising definitely helps me sleep better! I feel extra restless when I don’t and sometimes squeeze in 10 minutes of something before bed if I didn’t work out that day at all. And eating too much sugar is a MAJOR negative for me. Caffeine for me is totally neutral unless I’ve had a ridiculous amount of it (like, sitting at a restaurant where they just keep refilling soda the whole time you’re there).
This analysis is so interesting! I’d totally geek out over the numbers every day if I had that mattress 🙂
That’s it. I’m going to the library right now and getting something to read. I have got to get off this stupid internet!
I find that when I read before bed (even if my husband has the TV on) I fall asleep easier. Also, if I have a busy day the next day or just lots on my to do list, I make a note on my phone of everything (even if I have it written down elsewhere) so I can just get it out and hopefully turn my brain off!
I have a 19 month old and he’s been sleeping thru the night for about 10 or so months and I still wake up at night! Not necessarily to check up on him, I will just wake up and then fall back asleep. I don’t know if it ever goes away for us Mama’s – before I know it he’ll be a teenager, staying out late and I’ll be wide awake in bed!
I will say the number one thing that keeps me awake is my husbands snoring! If I wake up during the night and he is snoring I get fixated on it and cannot fall sleep unless I leave the bedroom, its horrible!
Hey Julie – I just wanted to comment that this is honestly one of the best sponsored posts I’ve read – yours or any other blogger. Most of the time I find that the content for a sponsored post is either a reach to connect it to the brand, totally irrelevant to either the blog’s content or my own interests, or is just kind of an information dump on the brand without any valuable information related to the product (i.e. I don’t care how a Leesa mattress is made, or that it’s comfortable when you first open it up – I want to hear how you sleep on it!!!).
This post is awesome because you came up with an interesting hypothesis, tested it out, and shared the results which your readers can actually use! Just wanted to throw that out there because it so strongly caught my attention. Thanks!!
Jessie R says
I totally agree, I really appreciate Julie’s high quality sponsored posts. Too often I see facts about the company and no real content that we normally see on a blog. Loved this post, thanks Julie!
Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I cannot tell you how much this means to me. I really, really try to be selective and honestly put a ton of time and energy into my sponsored posts, so I really appreciate it!! <3
THANK YOU, Laura! I really, really appreciate you taking the time to leave this comment. I really am very picky with my sponsored posts and they tend to take me 1,000x longer to write than other posts, so your comment means a lot to me. I try very hard to make them interesting and pertinent to readers and I am SO glad you liked this one! <3
My dr reccomended Sleepytime tea EXTRA (blue box) because it has a a natural sedative Valarian – i’ve used it a couple of times and it seems to help. Tastes pretty good too!
We LOVE Sleepytime tea in our house! I think it helps a bit, too!
Have you guys ever heard of a supplement called “Calm?” It’s essentially just a magnesium supplement, but apparently most Americans are super magnesium deficient, and it can contribute to or cause a boatload of issues. It’s a powder that you mix into water or drinks, and is sort of like alka seltzer.
I started taking it to combat some anxiety issues, because I had read TONS of stellar reviews, and recommendations from a few of my favorite health and wellness podcasts. It’s only been a few days so I’m not quite sure how it’s working yet, but I have noticed it does tend to make me feel a bit more relaxed and sleepy when I take it before bed.
Also, I would be super curious to see the results of a glass of wine before bed! I’m not sure if you are able to do that now since you are nursing, but it would be neat to see screenshots side by side of a regular night vs a glass of wine night. I’ve cut back dramatically on alcohol recently because I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and I noticed that I feel much better in the morning by opting out. Even though I knew that alcohol can interrupt sleep, I never really gave it much thought because a) I love wine, b) it was just a single glass, so I figured there was no harm. Turns out I was wrong, and I am sticking to special occasions or weekends only now. Made a huge difference!
I should definitely compare that!! Unfortunately Chase’s sleep changed (AGAIN), so I’ve been feeding him at 10pm again for the past two weeks so I’ve been steering clear of wine before bed again, but I’ll definitely report back when I do this!!
Jessie R says
What a great post! Exercise and clean eats are my go to for a good nights sleep. Man oh man, if I happen to eat ice cream before bed, or any other sugary treat, my sleep suffers so much.
I was honestly surprised at just how much sugar (especially right before bed) inhibited my sleep. Ugh!
Melissa @ melissakolbeck.com says
It’s funny you blogged on this topic because I’ve been having on and off sleep issues for the past few months. I experienced some anxiety attacks/depression several years ago related to a number of things, but after getting through that I was sleeping great until pregnancy and having a newborn. Thankfully Ellie started sleeping through the night pretty quickly, so I went back to sleeping great as well. It’s helped by the fact that my husband stays up late working on his art portfolio, so when I go to bed he has the baby monitor which eases my own anxiety with checking it. Plus, Ellie is now 20 months which helps. But the one thing that absolutely affects my sleep is if I get talking or thinking a lot about something that makes me anxious: money, problems with a friend, that kind of thing. That will make it hard to quiet my mind and once I have a little trouble falling asleep, I get it in my head that I’m going to have an anxiety attack like several years ago. It’s awful! Now I take melatonin before bed. It may be a placebo effect, but it seems to help!
Sara D. says
Sorry if anyone has already has asked this, but what flavor of ice cream is that? Looks good!
Publix birthday cake!
Great post on sleep habits! A great reminder! I hope you don’t mind- I’m going to feature it on my weekend links!
I’ve personally noticed that my friday night “dessert night” with my husband WRECKS my sleep! The sugar in donuts or cookies makes my heart race and I can’t sleep! so, I’ve given that up 🙁 but I’d rather sleep and have a calm heart rate than the sweets!!!
Michelle M. says
Hey Julie! The bed sounds fabulous; my husband and I are competitive, so I know we’d be constantly comparing our numbers. I read and drink sleepytime vanilla tea. Sugar gets me, too, making my heart race and leaving me feeling oddly anxious. Instead, I have a few dates or dried figs with a few dark chocolate almonds. That keeps my sugar cravings at bay. I hope your sleep regularizes. I’m a wreck without it.
If you don’t already, you should try to leave the baby monitor off during the night. Since we started leaving it off my husband and I sleep SO much better. If our son really needs us, he’ll let us know. We can hear him and we will wake up.
Sounds like an amazing bed —- we are actually “wedding registering” for a new bed as we need nothing else.
Yes — getting married at age 50 for the first time.
Kevin flops around so much I call him “flippy floppy flounder” and threaten to get twin beds ala Lucy and Ricky as he wakes me up 20+ times a night.
Rachel @ Never Enough Novels says
Hmm, I’ve never thought to start tracking my activities and see whether there are any correlations between tossing and turning and certain activities/amount of sweets I do throughout the day. Now that I have my FitBit I can actually try this out! Should be an interesting study…
I find that when I eat a large dessert (or anything with a ton of sugar) right before bed I end up with a colossal headache the next morning. Sugar hangover! I love sweets but that is an excellent deterrent for me when i’m craving something. I’ll pick something semi-sweet so as to get the taste but less sugar.
Dottie (@crazyfitmommy) says
I’ve definitely noticed that I don’t sleep well on days I have a lot of carbs or sugar, regardless of when during the day I’ve had them or if I’ve worked out. It doesn’t seem to affect me if I eat carbs from veggies or potatoes, but pasta, bread, ice cream, or candy are all killers for my sleep 🙁 Sometimes ignorance is bliss lol
Sam @ Barrister's Beet says
Julie- positives: I also notice a huge difference in my quality of sleep on days on which I exercise. I sleep SO much better! Reading helps profoundly, too. I still struggle with stress and anxiety, so I know a positive difference if I write things down before I go to sleep. I also love essential oils.
For negatives, it’s caffeine too late, not enough movement, a racing mind, or chocolate too late ☺️
Hope you had a great weekend!
Interesting that you have the same experience with coffee. It seems like coffee 20 minutes before sleep has no impact on me. Maybe I’m desensitized?
Susan Cotten says
What a great post, and I really enjoyed reading all this comments as well. I need a new mattress pretty badly, and the technology you described sounds super interesting! I am definitely going to look into this! On another note… What is the name of the black font used in your first graphic (exercise, late dinners, etc). I am obsessed with cool fonts, and really ❤️ that one! Thanks much for this information!
Keith Bourque says
I LOVE my Sleep Number too!! I’ve had it for 5 years now and still sleep like a baby! Added SleepIQ a couple years ago and learned so much more about what effects my sleep. Awesome read and great points!
Julie Saldana says
yes, avoiding caffeine after 11 a.m is very important. Caffeine can help you get more energy, but don’t overdo it. otherwise you will lose sleep immediately