I ran a poll on Instagram stories at the end of last year which asked what specifically people felt was impacting confidence when it comes to returning to work after maternity leave. Answers ranged from:
★ Being apart from their baby.
★ Feeling like a different person to who they were pre-baby.
★ The length of time out of the office.
But also what came up for a few people was sleep deprivation. And I completely get it, sleep is central to so many aspects of our life and plays an important part in both our physical and mental health.
Just some of the ways that good (or poor) sleep can affect us are your:
★ Ability to concentrate and be productive
★ Immune system
★ Emotional and mental wellbeing
★ Stress levels
And all of this can also affect our confidence.
The answer isn’t always just to go to bed earlier because I know how it feels. However tired you are, sometimes you just want some time for YOU at the end of the day.
However, although we might not always be in control of what happens during the night, maybe we can make small changes so that we can set ourselves up to get the best sleep we can.
It can be all to easy for the hours after the kids have fallen asleep to slip away watching something I’m not really that bothered about on the TV or getting lost scrolling on my phone. And while we all need some way to switch off at the end of the day, for me this often results in actually not feeling that relaxed or switched off, going to bed later than I intended and not being able to get to sleep for a while.
So, being more mindful about how I spend the hour or two before sleeping is something I’ve decided to prioritise at the start of this year. And while it’s still very early days, I’m really enjoying the sleep habits that I’m working on, and I’ve been falling asleep quicker and earlier than I was previously.
I’m not doing anything ground-breaking!
But just being more aware of setting myself up for sleep and making some small changes has helped a lot.
★ I’ve focused on making my bedroom a welcoming space that I want to go to and spend time in.
★ Putting my book on my bed after I’ve made it so that it’s ready to read when I go up to bed.
★ Putting on a diffuser before I go downstairs after putting my kids to bed.
★ Making time for a relaxing bath once or twice a week.
★ Having a mini pamper with a night time skincare routine before getting into bed.
★ Reading my book before bed rather than having screentime right up to trying to get to sleep.
I can’t stop your baby waking at night, but here are a few suggestions that might help you get into some good sleep habits.
1. A bedtime routine
Just like children, having a bedtime routine can help adults get their brains and bodies ready for sleep. Sticking to the same bedtime and wake up time each day can really help with this. Adults should be aiming for at least 7 hours sleep per night. What time do you ideally need to be getting to sleep to get 7 hours or more sleep?
For the 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime, try to incorporate some regular activities into your routine to set you up for sleep. These could include having a relaxing bath, reading a good book, journaling your thoughts down.
2. Avoid screen time
The blue light that comes from TVs, computers, mobiles etc. sends signals to our brains that it’s daytime so suppresses the production of melatonin which is our sleepy hormone. Finding some other way to relax in the 30-60 minutes before bedtime, that doesn’t involve looking at a screen, is a great way for helping your body prepare for sleep.
The same goes for any night wakings. It can be so tempting once you’re awake to reach for your phone and have a little scroll, but try to avoid this if you can. It can make falling back asleep again so much harder!
3. Listen to music
Music can be a good distraction from any thoughts that might be playing on your mind and can help prepare you for sleep. As you start getting ready for bed, how about putting on some music that helps you to unwind and feel relaxed?
Getting your thoughts, worries or to-do list from your head to paper can help stop your mind whirring when you’re trying to sleep. Alternatively, taking 5 minutes to write down any reflections you’ve had that day or things you are grateful for could become a lovely part of your bedtime routine.
5. Reading a book
Again, this is a great way of switching off from your day while avoiding screens. Even if it starts with reading just a couple of pages each night before you switch out your light, finding a good book can be a perfect way of feeling like you’re getting a little bit of you time back. Be careful though – I know how easy it is to get caught up in what you’re reading and you suddenly end up turning out the light a lot later than planned!
I hope this gives you some ideas about small changes you could make to your bedtime routine so you can try and get the best sleep that you can right now. It’s all about finding what works for you. You don’t need to do everything!
Which one of these would you like to try? Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know!
PS. If you’re on maternity leave, download my free guide to help you prepare for your return to work with confidence.