Truth? Sleep deprivation starts out in the hospital after baby arrives. Where instead of getting…
Becoming a parent seems to also come with becoming sleep obsessed. We are tracking wake windows, scheduling naps, making sure it’s dark enough, etc. I don’t have to tell you, you already know!
Also because of the sleep deprivation at the start, we never want to go back there. So we become diligent in our children’s sleep hygiene.
I became obsessed with my own when long after my son started sleeping through the night, I was still having sleep intermissions. That’s what I call those hours in the middle of the night when you’re just awake and you know it will be a while before you can go back to sleep. For me, this was a big indicator of postpartum anxiety.
I was still sleep deprived which isn’t good for anything or anyone. You can read more about the importance of sleep from two different sleep consultants here and here. So in order to support getting my mental health in order, I implemented cleaner sleep hygiene practices.
Yup, I cleaned up my bedtime routine. And I’d love to share how I did it.
Wash off the day
My husband and I alternate bath and bedtime so each of us gets an evening off. So on my nights I shower with my son I still find ways to make it relaxing for me. Two birds, one stone. And honestly? Being in water calms us both down so it’s usually a nice experience.
I keep a delicious peppermint sugar scrub in the shower at all times, a lip scrub, and a special body wash in the shower. But I don’t use all of them every time I shower, I alternate so they each feel special and I get a mama moment. This helps me transition from day to evening. Also, my son is now into body scrubs and I’m here for it! He deserves to treat himself too!
On my off nights from bath duty with my son, I take a bath by myself. I’m a bath person and if you’re not, skip this part. Sometimes I do it by candlelight. Sometimes I bring a book. Sometimes I scroll my phone in the bath to get my fix and then don’t look at my phone again when I get out!
This ritual has become a real signal to my brain and body that we are calming the eff down. I learned from Jennifer Steen how to make skincare a realistic part of my daily life. And this ritual of cleanse, tone, moisturize leaves me feeling like I really have my sh*t together.
A few nights a week I will use a Gua Sha and lightly massage my face. It’s calming, it takes only a couple of minutes, and makes me feel like a huge success in the self-care department. Bonus: my son likes me to do his face too.
And then of course, brush my teeth.
Get in the zone
I turn the lights down low to lower the stimulation and allow my brain and body to adjust that we are quieting down. And then I stretch. Sometimes if it’s early enough I will do a Yin yoga practice. Other times, I take 10+ breaths in…
- Downward dog
- Child’s pose
- Reclined twist to each side
- Legs up the wall
Then things get really sexy. I put on my night guard AND retainer, put in my earplugs, put on my wrist brace because I have Mom Thumb, and grab a book.
This is the deal I make with myself. If I pick up my real life, tangible book and read a little bit, I’m allowed to look at my phone again before bed.
Here’s the thing! Once I’m reading the real book, I don’t want to look at my phone! And I get sleepy and go to sleep!
We say it all the time. But I take this time to do my deep diaphragmatic breathing. It helps calm my nervous system, stretch my diaphragm, pelvic floor, and entire trunk. It also gives me something to focus on so that all the to-dos don’t creep in and distract me from getting quality sleep.
For me, not looking at my phone is the hardest part. And instead of punishing myself or feeling bad, I make little deals with myself to set myself up for success. I knew telling myself I could never look at my phone would only make me want it more, so I’ve been developing a bedtime routine that is consistent, yet flexible. Because real life is real life. And I need support in releasing the day, calming and quieting down so that I can relax into rest.
My brain doesn’t work SO differently than my baby’s brain. Just like how my son starts getting super sleepy and almost googly eyed by the time we get to read books, my body also surrenders to the process.
We are all humans. And creatures of habit. We depend on routines to give us a sense of safety, security, and calm. We do it for our kids, right? Right. For ourselves? Not so much. Until right now! Having a consistent bedtime routine tells our brains it’s time to power down for the night.
And our time is precious, so your routine doesn’t have to be a long drawn out thing like our toddlers who need exactly 3 books, 1.5 sips of water, etc.
It can be as simple as using a hand lotion with a scent you love before reading a book instead of scrolling. I highly recommend my book, but up to you 😉
Or listening to a comforting podcast.
Like any new routine or habit, to get started pick one thing. Incorporate one cleaner sleep practice and see what that inspires!