By Diana, Contributing Writer
My first son did. not. sleep. I experienced 14 months of sleep deprivation with a maximum of 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night. Eventually, we figured out it was due to food allergies and what I was eating. One wonderful thing I gained from this experience is learning about sleep and ways to help reset sleep patterns when they’re out of whack!
Thanksgiving and Christmas can be stressful! Maybe you’re traveling so you have time zone changes. You could be sleeping in different beds. Maybe you’re staying with family or friends that you may or may not mesh with. You could have kids waking up due to the different arrangements. There is a number of factors that will impact your sleep and as a result…impact your sanity and stress levels.
So here are my top 10 sleep tips that I’ve learned from being put through the wringer with my first son.
1. Drink Your Caffeine in the Morning
Drink your caffeine in the morning and then cut yourself off. Caffeine has a half life of 6 hours. So cut yourself off after that morning cup to get you going and then switch to tea or another beverage. Even decaf coffee has some caffeine it in. I noticed that if I drink it later in the day…I may fall asleep fine but then my sleep pattern is interrupted around 2 or 3 a.m. and I have wonderful wakeful prayer time for everyone I know.
2. Drink Chamomile and Lavender Tea
Both Chamomile and Lavender have calming effects on the body and help soothe your stomach. After my morning coffee intake, if I’m having an especially stressful time, I try to drink tea with either or both herbs in it. If you have a few cups throughout the day it will build up in your system and naturally relax you.
3. Cut Off Screen Time
Cut off your “screen time” — time in front of a computer, Kindle Fire, Nook, iPad, T.V. up to 2 hours before bed. If you are truly struggling with sleep, eliminating electronic device use before will make a dramatic difference. The blue light messes with your brain waves and disrupts your natural sleep rhythm.
4. Use Melatonin
This is a natural hormone your body produces for sleep. When sleep patterns have been severely disrupted for a period of time (think teething babies) this can be used for both you and your child. Consult your pediatrician for the appropriate amount for your child. Our’s recommended we use it to reset our son’s sleep rhythm and to help reset my own as well. It worked like a charm. They have it in the liquid or tablet form at health food stores.
5. Rub Lavender Essential Oil on Your Feet
We’re back to that lavender. If you rub a therapeutic grade lavender essential oil on your feet before bed it will help in relaxing your body for sleep. The first time I tried it I was skeptical but, it worked!
6. Read Something Relaxing Before Bed
I love reading but I do recommend it’s something relaxing. I tend to do some of my devotional time at night. It puts my mind in a healthy state of mind and I can think and pray about the topic before falling to sleep.
7. Sleep in a Dark Room
I am a night light user from way back but I noticed that I became more and more sensitive to light. So in our son’s room and our own, we now have little to no light. They have a very dim night light and our room is completely dark. Light can disrupt sleep patterns and cause you to awake for no apparent reason. Our boys were waking up at 3 or 4 a.m. We changed the night light and it helped.
8. Use a White Noise Machine
My favorite sleep book for kids was The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. She gives wonderful advice on sleep but one thing that I took away for myself was the use of a white noise machine. We don’t have monitors in our bedroom thanks to a small home and the kids sleeping one room over. Both bedrooms have white noise machines which block out the city traffic and any other environmental noises that wake us (like my snoring for my hubby).
9. Remove Cell Phones From Your Bedroom:
Cell phones transmit electronic waves too and can disrupt your sleep. So get them out of the bedroom. They don’t belong there. If you must have one in your room, move it away from the bed. I know many of you use it for an alarm clock but I would avoid that and get an inexpensive digital alarm clock that doesn’t emit as many electronic waves. (Editor’s Note: Alternatively, turn off the wifi on your phone or switch to ‘airplane mode.’ While this does not completely eliminate all of the electronic waves being emitted, it does significantly minimize them.)
10. Set Conversation Boundaries
The last one seems like common sense but sometimes we need to have a reminder. Set some conversation boundaries for yourself. If certain topics are difficult for you to let go of and you sense one is going to be addressed right before bed, try to avoid it and reschedule it for the morning. It’s ok to tell someone, “I want to talk about that but right now isn’t a good time since I’m going to bed soon. Can we talk about that tomorrow sometime? What time works for you?”
So those are my tips. I hope some of them help. The more you do the better your sleep will become.