If you're a parent, chances are you spend a lot of time thinking about sleep. You probably think about how to get your little on to go to bed without a fight, how to make sure that nap time goes smoothly, and how to make sure bad dreams and monsters under the bed don't disrupt your little one's slumber. But, how often do you think about your own sleep? Many parents have trouble going to bed on time or falling asleep quickly even when they know how important it is to be well rested. Sometimes after a long day with the kiddos it's tempting to stay up late binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix maybe it's tough to drift off when your mind is racing with all that tomorrow holds. But like you tell your little one, getting enough sleep is really important. Follow these tips to help you sleep easily and wake up refreshed in the morning!
Sometimes, no matter how tired you are, going to bed is the last thing you want to do. Many parents use the time after their little one has gone to sleep to work, pack lunches, get ready for the next day, or indulge in a hobby. It can be tempting to extend this kid-free time long after you should be in bed, but when you do you're likely to wake up tired and groggy. Pick a bedtime that works for you (ideally at least 8 hours before you have to wake up in the morning) and stick to it. Even if it means pausing the show, putting down the book, or leaving another chore until tomorrow, you'll be glad you did in the morning.
Keep your bedroom device-free
Lots of parents have a television, computer, and cell phones in their bedroom, but many don't realize just how distracting these devices can be. Even if you shut your device off before laying down, your brain can still be wired and it can take extra time to fall asleep. Keeping your phone plugged in next to your bed can also cause trouble as many parents spend more pre-sleep time than they realize scrolling and reading. Minimize electronic distractions by keeping televisions and computers out of your bedroom and picking another place in the house to charge your phone.
While lots of moms and dads rely on coffee to get them going in the morning, indulging in the afternoons or evenings can cause big trouble at bedtime. Do your best to save soda, coffee, and caffeinated tea for before lunch. Stick to water or decaf drinks after lunch to help you rest easy at bedtime.
Split wake-ups with a partner
When you're in the midst of new parenthood, all the evening ups and downs can mean that you just don't get the rest you need. While it's normal for newborns and little ones to wake up in the night, if you have a partner you should make a plan to maximize your rest. Instead of having one person wake up every time baby has a need or going back and forth every wake-up, try making a rule that every wake-up before 2:00 am be handled by one of you and every wake up after 2:00 am be handled by the other. If you split your time this way you're guaranteed at least four hours of uninterrupted sleep (which can feel like a lot when you have a little one!)
Just as it is for your little one, getting to sleep when you're overtired can be hard. If you're feeling tired in the afternoon and have the ability to nap, go ahead and indulge. While you don't want to sleep late into the evening, a short power nap can give you the energy you need to make it through the rest of the day and help you rest better at night.
Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. She is writing a memoir on pregnancy, motherhood, and sisterhood and lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. ... More