This month, our blog posts pertain to Mother’s Day and sleep issues related to mom. Here, we share our personal stories and tips about things that keep us up at night, even when our kids are sound asleep.
This is a stressful time of year for me. My husband and I run a summer camp for children with Asperger’s Syndrome so I have lots of things on my mind. There are nights when I wake up from what I call an “anxiety dream” in a cold sweat…Did I remember to buy Margo (our daughter) milk?…Did I remember to tell our friends that we can’t make it to their son’s birthday party next weekend?
It is common for everyone to have trouble sleeping sometimes, but I think it’s even more common for moms. As a working mother, I constantly have to juggle many things and sleep often suffers as a result. Over the years, I’ve learned a few techniques that help me fall asleep more easily and keep me sleeping throughout the night! Here are some that might be worth trying:
Read before bed. No matter how tired I feel before bed, I always read in bed before I turn off my light- nothing work-related but a good novel. It helps me unwind and turn off my racing thoughts. My husband likes to read as well so we try to turn off our lights at the same time.
No screens. We turn off the TV, iPhones, and computers at least an hour before we head up to bed – and we do NOT have a TV in our bedroom!
Write it down. I keep a notepad next to my bed so if I wake up in a panic, I can scribble a quick note and not worry that I’ll forget something important.
Don’t eat. I try not to eat too close to bedtime – if I do, I end up with heartburn or weird dreams.
Try not to panic. When I can’t sleep, I try not to panic. I don’t watch TV or take any “sleep aids” (including alcohol) but instead, I take my book into a dimly lit room and read for thirty minutes before I try again to fall asleep.
Just because our kids are sleeping through the night, doesn’t mean we can ignore our own sleep habits. In a nationwide survey, about half of moms reported they don’t get enough sleep (almost 60% of moms who work outside the home)! I thought that once my babies were sleeping at night, I’d be “sleeping like a baby.” But some days, I’m exhausted from the moment I wake up.
While I’m not heading off to camp, I, too, find myself constantly making lists in my head. I used to make fun of our father who always wrote everything down. Debbie and I would joke that he’d forget to use the bathroom if he didn’t write it down.
But now I’m older. I have two children and occasionally still suffer from “mommy brain.” And I am trying to juggle work, household, and social life, not always successfully. I agree that writing things down helps to quiet my mind a bit when it is time to go to bed. I also use Debbie’s the notepad-by-the-bed trick in case I have a brainstorm during the night.
There are other things that sometimes impact my sleep, even when the kids are sleeping soundly. My husband travels for work about once a month. When he isn’t home, I find that I sleep much less soundly. I think I’m subconsciously listening for the kids, or intruders, or who-knows-what. I recently upgraded our home security system and am hoping that provides some comfort when hubby is away.
I actually follow some of the advice we give parents helping their babies learn good sleep habits. As Dr. Wider mentioned in her guest blog last week, maintaining a consistent routine helps. I try to go to bed at the same time each night and the kids take care of waking me up at the same time each morning (see the Alarm Clock blog post).
And just like we recommend for babies, I find that fresh air and exercise during the day help me sleep better at night. I just try not to do the exercise too close to bedtime, as that can have the opposite effect.
What types of things keep you up at night, besides the kids, and what have you found works to help you get to sleep and stay asleep? We’d love to hear your thoughts.