You don’t need me to tell you the importance of sleep (or if I do, you can read about it here!), especially when getting a good night’s sleep is completely out of your control.
New babies and sleep deprivation go hand in hand. But after a few months some babies settle into a gentle rhythm. Others do not… For those of you who, like me, find that getting quality sleep is still a struggle with a teething toddler, here are my sleeping hacks for when you are running on near-empty and it’s only 7am.
You can apply these tips whether you are a working mum who leaves home and goes to a job, or a working mum who stays at home caring for your children.
Plan a Gentle Day
Take the time to reassess your to-do list today. What can you remove or post-pone? You will have only a limited amount of energy today, so use it sparingly! Instead spend as much time as you can with your little one or your pet. Slow down and be mindful. Play, and laugh as much as possible. Even if it’s at something completely silly, the act of laughing will boost your immune system and relieve physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
Control Your Cravings
I recently heard on a podcast that when we have had less than 6 hours of sleep, our blood sugar and metabolism resemble that of a diabetic. When we’ve had a poor night sleep, the hormone ghrelin (responsible for controlling your hunger signals) significantly increases, and the hormone leptin (responsible for signalling satiety) significantly decreases, which means we are bound to be faced with the strong urge to eat more than we usually would (read more here).
I try to ensure on the days that I am really sleep deprived, that I start the day with a very nutrient dense and slow burning meal full of protein and healthy fat. Something like scrambled eggs, avocado and basil pesto. Snacks should also be as satiating as possible, so try to avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates. I realise this is more difficult that it sounds when your cravings are screaming at you, but knowing that your body is far less equipped to handle these foods that usual may help you to be aware and be organised.
It may seem like a good idea at the time, but using caffeine for energy is like borrowing money from the bank and you will have to pay it back later, with interest. Try to limit the amount of caffeine to just one cup, a couple of hours after rising, once you have had that satiating breakfast. Spend the rest of the day drink herbal tea.
Meditate – Yoga Nidra Style
There are some reports that meditation (when performed in a certain way) can be 2-3 times deeper than sleep. If you don’t have the opportunity to take a nap, even 10 minutes of meditation improve cortisol levels and give your body the rest that it needs.
I recommend a yoga nidra style of meditation, which is extremely deep and relaxing. You can check out this free yoga nidra meditation by yoga teacher Kate Alexandra here.
Be Kind to Yourself
I don’t know about you, but when I’m sleep deprived, I see it in my face. I feel terrible, and find it so easy to tell myself that I look terrible. I get really nasty and critical, and everything that is usually a low grade stress escalates easily with my sensitivity.
I need to be far more vigilant with taming my negative self-talk by showing myself compassion and kindness. You can read more about my tips for loving yourself, and your post-baby body here.
Today it will be easy for your buttons to be pressed by your partner, your child or even the overly chatty person queuing up before you at the shops. During these times of having your patience tested, stop and take 2 deep breaths. Three would be ideal, but I know how hard this is in reality!
Go to Bed Early
This seems like a given, but perhaps you are like me and sometimes have a second wind later on in the day. It can seem like a good time to catch up on all the housework that didn’t get done that day. Especially if the sleep deprivation has taken a hold of your life and we are talking weeks instead of days. But there is an old saying that every hour of sleep before midnight, is actually worth 2 hours.
Instead of spending 30-45 minutes settling and rocking my babe to sleep, I have a quick shower, brush my teeth and go to bed together. Now if co-sleeping isn’t for you, as soon as your babe is asleep, go straight to bed yourself. You never know, you might get 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep before the first stir!
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