Like most working moms, I knew those first few months with a newborn would be a challenge to my sleep and my subsequent workday. Now that my son is almost 2 years old, we've developed an effective bedtime routine that prepares him to sleep through the night.
Me on the other hand? That's another story. But unlike those early days as a working mom to a newborn, I'm not awake in the middle of the night because I'm breastfeeding, pumping, changing diapers or swaddling -- I'm just awake. Like many busy working moms, I've found that ironically, the times of the most quiet in my house are when my mind is energized. As a result, I'm awake when I should be sleeping and tired when I should be awake!
While there isn't a lot that can be done to ward off those middle-of-the-night wakings from a toddler, there are changes you can make to your own bedtime routine to make sure you get the quality sleep you need to do it all as a stay-at-home working mom.
Your child sleeps wonderfully after an active day at the playground, and so will you -- with its adult equivalent: the gym. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise each day — but give your body at least a few hours to transition between your workout session and bedtime.
It's tempting to catch up on work once the house goes silent, but that habit hinders sleep. The Mayo Clinic advises putting all electronic devices to rest about 30 minutes before you lie down -- research indicates their "glow" can actually stimulate your brain, making it harder to fall asleep. Dim the lights, read a book or take a soothing bath. If you have a lot on your mind, write a "to do" list — and then forget about it until tomorrow.
What goes into your mouth during the day affects how you'll sleep at night. It can take hours for caffeine to work its way out of your system, so if you're having trouble sleeping, that 3 p.m. Starbucks run, tea or diet soda might actually be to blame. That glass of wine at dinner might help you relax and fall asleep easier — but it can disturb your sleep later in the night.
The Mayo Clinic says that after about 15 minutes of not falling asleep, "you might find it even tougher to nod off." Write a journal entry, try a crossword puzzle or sit next to your bed and perform some gentle stretches until you feel a little more tired -- just remember, no logging onto the computer!
There's nothing wrong with sneaking a daytime nap in with the kids — just limit it to about 10 to 30 minutes.
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