You lie there restless. You can't turn off your thoughts. You could be forty or you could be four. Most of us have been in that frustrating, wide awake, lying in bed moment. What do you do when you just can't sleep? Sleep Expert Alanna McGinn and Psychotherapist Kelly Bos tackle sleep at its most elusive.
Sleep deprivation is all too common amongst new moms. It’s part and parcel to bringing your new baby home. You are now on their schedule and sleep is lost to you…for now. Before moms can start focusing on the importance sleep for themselves—and it is so important—we need to get our little ones on the path to sleep success once they are age appropriate. The one thing I like to make sure my clients are promoting for their babies is a calm and soothing sleep environment. One that is conducive to sleep. The best part is this can translate so easily to our own sleep environment.
* Darken room with blackout blinds. I even have clients tape up garbage bags. The darkness is what cues our brains to release melatonin, a natural sleep hormone.
* Introduce a white noise machine—one that runs continuously can help for both naps and night sleep. A consistent sound allows your child to be lulled into a restorative sleep.
* Make sure temperature is comfortable and on the cooler side. We all sleep better in cooler environment. A temperature between 68° and 72° works well.
* We want to practice safe sleep with our little ones. Remove all blankets, bumpers, or big stuffed animal.
* Clear all crib entertainment—no aquariums and flashing lights. That bright light can over stimulate the brain and force it to shut off the sleep switch. Tip for mom and dad: turn off all electronics at least sixty minutes before bed for you as well.
As a therapist, struggles with sleep is a common complaint among my clients. In my practice I have worked with people who work shifts, have a career that requires on-call, and moms, whose night schedule resembles these two combined. Interruption in sleep is one thing but what if the struggle is getting to sleep in the first place. Often when this is the case, we are not in the present moment, and the present is exactly where we have to be to fall asleep. What are you thinking about when you can't sleep? You might notice you are often in the past, allowing worry to creep in about something that has happened, or you are in the future, distracted with worry about something you fear will happen. So if you have darkened your room, adjusted the temperature and turned off the electronics and still can't sleep here is a sleep strategy that I use with my clients.
* The 5-5-5 Method: As you are lying in bed, try locating five things you can see, five things you can hear, and five things you can feel. Taking inventory of the items in your surroundings are as present as you can get. For identifying the visual items, hopefully your room is nice and dark, so it might just be outlines, but try your best. After you have done five move on to four, then three, two and one. If you start to forget if you were on the sensory or the auditory or whether you were tracking four or three, it is working! You are getting tired. Clients I have shared this with rarely make it to the end, and if they do, they fall asleep soon after or into their second attempt.
Utilizing these tips can start you on the right path towards restful sleep for both you and your baby.