Sometimes it feels as if I haven’t slept for the last 4.5 years and then I realise that actually… I kind of haven’t! Having a daughter who needed both her tonsils and her adenoids removed before she was 4 years old meant I was up every night for her entire life, anywhere between 2 and 12 times a night. In the winter it only got worse thanks to constant illness so I really did have to get sleep smart and figure out the best ways to get as much sleep as I could.
There is that age -old advice of when the baby is sleeping you should be too but it doesn’t always work like that. For me, it was a combination of never having been able to sleep during the day and my stubborn side wanting to enjoy the time to myself whilst the baby was sleeping and didn’t need me.
In that respect, as parents we are sometimes our own worst enemies and being a single mother right from the beginning, I probably should have taken the opportunity to rest when she was sleeping…but I didn’t. Instead, I came up with other ways to ensure the little sleep I did get, was good sleep and would help me keep on going.
How to relax to sleep better
It is really hard to relax and unwind when you’re sleep deprived and the appeal of just collapsing into bed is great but it is important to unwind and shake off the day, even if just for 10 or 15 minutes to aid in a more restful sleep. Self-care is an important factor in parenting because if you don’t care for yourself, you’ll be unable to care for others.
Before climbing into bed, enjoy a hot shower or a soothing bath and if you have some around try adding some lavender oil or bath salts to help soothe both your body and mind.
A warm drink, like chamomile tea will really help soothe you and bring a sense of calm. Make sure you have taken the time to eat something, even some nice, hot, buttery toast, because your body cannot run on empty.
Tips for sleeping comfortably
You won’t sleep well if you are not comfortable…fact. Grab some clean pyjamas and if you have the energy, pop some fresh sheets on the bed because let’s face it, there is nothing greater than getting into a bed that has fresh sheets on. It is simply, magic.
Even now, with a four year old, I am still getting tired and I realised that my mattress wasn’t very comfortable. I tried out a mattress topper from Happy Beds and it has been amazing. I am not waking in the night because my back or ribs hurt from the harsh mattress. I find myself looking forward to going to bed each evening because it’s like lying down on a cloud and has made such a difference.
Contradicting the ‘sleep when baby sleeps’ advice
Going back to that age old advice of, you should be sleeping when your baby/child does. I don’t agree with this because I was never able to. However, what I did agree with is that you should be “resting” when your child is sleeping or otherwise occupied. Whether that is in the bath, lying down, having a coffee with a friend or reading a book, it doesn’t matter.
You still need time to be you and time to switch off. The best tip I can give for getting better sleep when you do get sleep is simply to practice a little self-care and be kind to yourself.
Keep it in perspective
And remember… you’re doing a great job and it won’t last forever. Even if it feels like it will.
More tips and advice on sleep with a new baby