When I was pregnant, my girlfriends passed down all kinds of baby sleeping books to me. The 'No Cry, No Pain, Easy Breezy, Ferberize Your Baby Until They Konk Out" books. I thought those books were a crock of bull.
Babies sleep, that's basically what they do. They eat, poop, cry and sleep. They don't call it "Sleep Like a Baby" for nothing (or so I thought).
I can hear you laughing at me because obviously, I was wrong.
I began sleep training my son when he was a bit over five months old. I had no choice. He was still waking every two hours at night and his daily naps lasted for only thirty-five minutes. The boy did not know how to sleep! I was being driven over the edge. "It will all be fantastic once I sleep train him," I said to myself.
I can hear some of you laughing at me again.
It was fantastic…for him. He became a different baby with a little R & R. The problem was that even though he was sleeping through the night, I was not.
My schedule was completely out of whack. Months of running on steam with a newborn, along with the last couple months of pregnancy, when I barely slept because I couldn't get comfortable or was peeing every hour due to my bambino resting on my bladder (more like kicking it) just added to the problem. I dragged myself for quite a while until I got sick.
I started to work with a holistic health practitioner once I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and a thyroid condition. One of the first things she asked me was, "What is your bedtime routine?" I began to tell her about bath time, reading books, rocking and singing songs. She interrupted me. She had no interest in my son's routine, she wanted to know what I did before I went to bed.
My son's nighttime routine had been carefully laid out, timed and tweaked.
What did I do before bed? Clean or work on a client project or watch HGTV or write until I can't keep my eyes open and then stumble into bed, many times in the same clothes I wore all day. Pitiful right?
It was suggested that I create my very own bedtime routine to ensure successful sleep. It didn't have to be dramatic or take hours. It's all about preparing your body and mind for rest.
There are a couple of things that are non-negotiable.
1. Establish a bedtime and stick with it. Consistency begets sleep.
2. No TV or computer for at least 1 hour before your bedtime.
Here's the thing, no two will look the same. You have to do what's best for you. Some people take a warm bath before bed because that relaxes them. I only take baths (in Epsom salt) when I'm achy. Some people drink tea or warm milk. Not my thing either.
There's a bit of trial and error in this process so figure out what works best for you. Try to keep it simple (no more than 5 steps) so that you can easily accomplish it every night.
Get My Butt To Sleep Things:
1. Talk a bit to my husband (who always stays up later) about non stressful topics - So no politics, money issues or common core math discussions allowed.
2. Nighttime beautifying - Brush my teeth, wash my face, facial creams and lotions, magic anti-aging potions of the moment.
3. Put on PJ's - This was a biggie for me. I.will.not.sleep.in.my.yoga.pants.
4. Get into bed and read - Pre-baby I always read in bed and it helped relax me. I got out of the habit once my son arrived, but now I'm back on track.
5. Reiki (my woo woo thing) - is all about balance so I find this is the icing on cake when it comes to drifting off to la la land. Within ten minutes of starting I'm out cold.
It will take some time and consistency for this to work but I can honestly say that within two weeks of embarking on the "Great Bedtime Routine Journey" my sleep began to improve. I now drift off much quicker and stay in a deep sleep longer.
I've fallen off the wagon a few times. It happens (even with our kid's sleep habits) around the holidays and summer break. Once you've established your routine, it's easy to slide back into the groove.
Take some time and create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself. You deserve it. Sweet dreams await you.