How many parents out there long for a decent night’s sleep? Plenty! So why are there only sleep solution books aimed at kids - parents clearly need one too.
But no one has written that book. So here is a chapter outline for ‘Sleep Glorious Sleep: Sleep solutions for exhausted parents’.
1. A routine ritual
We create bedtime rituals for our children to signal sleep - bath, into pyjamas, stories, cuddles, lights out. The nightly repetition forecasts bedtime so body and mind subconsciously prepare for sleep even before hitting the pillow.
So why don’t we do the same for ourselves? A toilet stop and brushing your teeth is no substitute. Perhaps your perfect routine could include a few gentle yoga stretches, some breathing exercises to clear the head and relax the body, or repetition of an affirmation or two.
2. Sleep aids
We took the dummy, wrap, patting, and rocking away from our babies so they could learn to put themselves to sleep so is it hypocritical to use alcohol or other medications to sleep soundly ourselves? Probably. And probably not healthy either. But a relaxing CD or a relaxing read are a nice way to prepare for slumber.
Make sure you turn the TV off at a reasonable hour and allow yourself enough time to sleep and dream.
3. Water wind-down
After a particularly stressful day or week, your sleep ritual may need a boost. One naturopathic recommendation is to add a cup of Epsom salts and a few drops of lavender essential oil to a hot bath.
It is wonderfully relaxing any time of the day, but particularly potent just before bed. Just make sure you go straight from bath to bed, after a quick dry off, to gain maximum benefits.
4. Healthy day, healthy night
Keeping physically fit and eating healthy food is good for the daytime and night-time you. Whether you focus on increasing your heart rate with jogging, walking or swimming, or connecting your mind and body with yoga or Pilates, being physically healthy means you will sleep more soundly.
And eating fresh fruit and vegetables and less fats and starches is also good for healthy living and sleeping.
5. Clock watching
You’re never going to get enough sleep if you put yourself to bed too late. It is simple maths. Asleep at midnight + awake at 6am = not enough sleep. So make sure you turn the TV off at a reasonable hour and allow yourself enough time to sleep and dream.
6. Last resort
If all else fails, you could always hire a night nanny. That’s what celebrities do, and they don’t look sleep deprived!
We would all love to get more sleep. But, then again, it is amazing what we can achieve on very little shut eye.
Jodie Benveniste is the author of Full Belly: Comfort and inspiration for pregnancy and birth and Little Bundle: Comfort and inspiration for new parents. Her business, Parent Wellbeing, helps you care for yourself so you can care better for your children.