Sleep Like A Teenager
Let’s face it, after becoming a mom, sleep is never the same again. It’s not just the quantity of sleep that we lose, but also the quality. I never had trouble sleeping in my teens, but as I entered nursing school and then motherhood, my sleep has suffered. It has taken some time, but I have come to realize that a bedtime routine for us is just as important as a bedtime routine for them.
When The House is Asleep
I am guilty of staying up way too late trying to play catch up on my shows, social media, returning texts from my friends, all while knowing I will be up at 6am and feeling terrible. Especially when my kids were little, those late night hours seemed to be the only time that belonged to me. Staying up until midnight and 1am used to be a common occurrence for me. I would power through my day with coffee and Diet Cokes, and by the time bath time came, I was running on fumes, but I needed those hours to myself.
While I am no longer chasing toddlers, playing endless rounds of Candyland, and being a snack distributor, I am a chauffeur and I am helping with junior high and high school math. I am still the primary housekeeper, meal maker, grocery shopper, and full time night shift worker, so those evening hours are just as precious to me now as they were then. I have learned that sleep is also important, and through trial and error, I have tried to find a balance.
No, it’s not kids that keep me awake or wake me from a deep sleep. It’s the to do lists. It’s the things said that are now weighing on my mind … did I say the right thing, did I come across in the tone I wanted, did I make myself clear, what could I have done/said differently?) It’s the finances, work, and even things like: do I ride in Iris when Iris/Tucks Saturday is one of my favorite parade days to be a parade goer or do I ride Cleo because who doesn’t love a night parade? I needed to find a way to quiet my mind before I settled in for the night.
I purchased a little journal that I write in, not journaling per se, more like a brain dump. I write down the things in my mind that are causing me any type of stress or anxiety or really taking up too much thought time. Some days are in paragraph form and literally some say, “You cannot control the outcome of any of the following things, let the universe handle it.” I make lists of what I need to focus on the next day and what can wait. Whatever is on my mind, I tell myself to write it down, close the book and put it away until tomorrow. It sounds cheesy, but it does help.
Put The Phone Down
We all know we need to do this. Set a time to be done with the phone at night and stick to it. There is nothing on your social media, no video on TikTok, or any emails that can’t wait until tomorrow, so put it away. I use the sleep app Sleep Cycle when I sleep, which has a white noise that lasts until you are in a good sleep and an alarm that gives an option of a time frame to slowly wake you up or a set time. It tracks you through the microphone on your phone and shows how you slept in a graph the next day. It also records any periods of talking or snoring. I usually turn the app on about 30 minutes before I am ready to sleep. I let the white noise play while I read and write in my journal.
Half of my sleep time happens during the day, so I am a big fan of the do not disturb setting on my phone. I have select numbers that can get through in case of an emergency, but everyone else is shut out until I wake up.
A Little Help From My Friends
My best sleep friends are melatonin and Sleepy lotion from Lush. Part of my bedtime routine after I have brushed my teeth is to take a melatonin and slather the lotion on my arms and chest. It’s like the dynamic duo of sleep enhancement. For melatonin, I have found an extended release version that works best for me; it helps me fall asleep and stay asleep. As a day sleeper, I have tried every sleep aid out there, from Benadryl to prescriptions. I do have a prescription sleep medication; however, I try to only take it when I am really having a hard time falling asleep, like when my anxiety is past the point of journaling and breathing techniques. I also have a weighted blanket, blackout curtains, a loud fan, and a sleep mask that all play supporting roles in my sleep routine.
Wine A Little Less
This was my hardest realization. Alcohol too close to bedtime was giving me false good sleep. Yes, after a couple glasses of wine while watching my shows, I was so tired and could hardly hit the pillow before I was asleep, but this wasn’t good sleep. I wasn’t letting my body fall asleep naturally, so I would end up waking up after a few hours, and then my mind would start running and insomnia would take over.
I started to limit myself, and like a phone cut off time, I set a wine cut off time. Instead of having one more glass if it is close to bedtime, I have replaced my wine with tea (low to no caffeine, although it doesn’t really effect my ability to sleep). There is something calming about drinking a cup of tea while reading a book.
Of course my bedtime routine hasn’t solved all my sleep issues. After all, I am and will always be a nightshift nurse, so my bedtime and wake up times will never be consistent. I will always be a mom, so even though I am not listening for crying babies anymore, I am listening for a text that tells me they have arrived at their location or a door opening to let me know they’re home safely. Soon, they’ll be off at college and I am sure no sleep routine will help me, but for now having a bedtime routine has been one of the best things I have done for myself. Get yourself a bedtime routine and reclaim that good sleep!