How To Get Your Best Sleep Yet
Written by Katherine Oakes
Photography by Photograph by James Kicinski-McCoy
Whether or not you are a sleep-deprived, dark circle-eyed mama who struggles with insomnia or just looking catch a few more winks each night, the benefits of a deep, peaceful slumber sadly can’t be replaced by a seriously good cup of coffee (or four) in the morning, although sometimes it can certainly feel that way. Sleep is much more precious than that. During a deep snooze, your body and brain are replenished, while your most vital and basic functions are regulated and refreshed to have you in the best condition for the day ahead. Those sippy cups? Poured. Lunch boxes? Packed and nutritious. Mood? Never better. Here are some of the best ways to make the most of your ZZZs.
Let’s Talk About Those Late Nights. We’re all guilty of thinking we don’t really need the suggested 8 hours, but we’re wrong. Just like you put your little ones down to sleep at a specific hour (or at least try to), so should you. Same goes for your oh-so-adored morning alarm—set it for the same time everyday to keep it consistent. It’s this regularity of sticking to an arranged sleep schedule that will help set your body’s sleep-wake cycle and encourage a better night’s rest overall. The only downside? To truly reap the benefits, this schedule must be continued throughout the weekends, too. That means saying goodbye to those late-night-karaoke-sessions with your girlfriends as much as possible. On the bright side, there’s plenty of reason to stay on track if your goal is to wake up rested, have less fatigue throughout the day, be more alert, tackle more to-do’s, and immensely improve your mood.
Get Out Those Hippie Things. Whether it’s lighting a candle, burning some incense, applying soothing essential oils, taking a warm bath, reading a book, doing some breathing exercises, or even jotting down some thoughts, doing the same things every night sends a message to your body and your brain that it’s time to start winding down. So at the end of the day, rather than being something you struggle with, a peaceful and deep sleep can come naturally. A good pillow can make a huge difference in the way you sleep—get yourself a great one! Also, pick up a comfortable pair of pajamas if you don’t already have them. Itchy, coarse tees and restricting sets can actually cause you to toss and turn throughout the night, disrupting sleep—sayonara cheap PJ’s!
Stop Instagramming In Bed. For many of us, casually scrolling through social media feeds, skimming through our favorite websites, and doing other mindless tasks on computers, smartphones, or tablets is a regular habit at the end of the day because it “feels” somewhat relaxing and we get to catch up on what we missed during the day. However, instead of helping your brain power-down, these devices actually stimulate the mind and can even trigger a stress response. So trade your midnight working/lurking/or whatever-it-is-you-do-time for a more relaxing and stress-reducing alternative. If you just can’t say no to a good Netflix binge-watching in bed, decide on a regular cut-off time, so you don’t find yourself dazed and confused at 2am.
What If You Just Can’t Wind Down? Our bodies are naturally programmed to rest and replenish themselves at the end of the day, but sometimes due to stress, anxiety, and an unfinished to-do list, our brains can act more like jerks. The good news is, there are plenty of natural supplements on the market that encourage this holistic response. Stock up on magnesium, which balances your nervous system and helps muscles relax. Melatonin, the natural hormone that promotes sleep, is another great snooze-promoting supplement that can help you doze off and help set your internal clock. Other natural nightcaps include sleepy drinks, tonics, and teas containing valerian and chamomile. And lavender essential oil in a diffuser, applied topically, or mixed with water and spritzed on your sheets can help you wind down quickly. Speaking of sheets, a comfortable set, along with a great mattress can make all the difference in a good night’s rest. Think about how much time you spend in your bed—the investment is well worth it.
Actually Use Those Yoga Pants For…Yoga. If you’re a busy mama who gets her exercise just from running around after your little ones all day, then this one should be easy. For those who struggle with falling sleep and finding time to get enough physical movement into your routine, consider implementing a fitness routine into your schedule each week. We know, that sounds impossible, but there are several workouts you can do indoors, quietly, and while your baby naps or watches a movie, like yoga, pilates, low-impact cardio, and indoor walking. Experts suggest that regular physical activity can promote better sleep, helping you to fall asleep faster. Just be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime, as it can be overstimulating and actually keep you awake.
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