My Kids Are Finally Sleeping. Why Can’t I?

So your kid is finally sleeping better, but you can’t fall asleep or you wake in the night. What should you do for more rest, and therefore more energy. Ideal sleep is in the 8 hour range, which often seems unachievable to a parent of a young child. Yet with less sleep, you run increased risk of all kinds of illnesses (heart disease and cold bugs, to name two), obesity and a short temper.

  • SleepGo to bed early. You already know this, but it bears repeating. If your kid will wake you every morning at 5 or 6am, and you go to bed at midnight, even if all else is perfect, you’re running a sleep deficit.  Aim as early as possible, close to 9pm if you have a fiver.

  • Take chamomile to fall asleep. Looking for a natural transition to sleep? Chamomile helps relax and comes in tea, homeopathic tubes from Boiron and the formula Calms Forte tablets.

  • Practice restorative yoga or meditation before bed. Unlike vigorous exercise, which can energize you, stretching and meditation can help calm the brain, especially if your day leaves you as stressed as most parents. Wrestling a toddler to bed, especially one who pops back out, can try the equanimity of a saint.

  • Stop drinking right before bedtime. What’s the first thing we do when helping our child wake up dry?  Stop liquids the last hour or two before bedtime. Same applies to adults. If you’re waking up in the middle of the night, it’s worth a try, remembering that coffee and alcohol can cause more midnight trips to the bathroom than even water. Compensate by drinking more water during the day.

  • Skip caffeine after lunch. That afternoon lull is such a quandary. Some days, I just need an extra cup of joe to finish my day. But every time I break down, I regret it at bedtime.

  • Go low tech. Keep an old fashioned pen and pad of paper by your bed for any ideas, to dos or lists that come to mind. You can transfer later into your cloud account, but the pad won’t distract you with email, social media or news.

  • Buy peace of mind. If you worry about your children at night, set up a digital monitor such as this wireless video baby monitor (analog allows snooping) or dropcam. Check that your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working and have good batteries (hello, 2am beep).  Anchor heavy furniture. Home alarms can help people feel safe, as can a security assessment by the police or an organization like SAFE. Whatever keeps you up at night, get that worry outsourced.

  • Avoid scary stories. The types of stories to avoid usually harken with “warning: graphic” and report on violence towards children. I couldn’t sleep for weeks after a talk show featuring a man whose family was brutalized. Or after watching The Changeling.

Schedule childcare.  If you work outside the home, either with a job, contract work or a mompreneurship, cover your working hours with childcare. Those of us skimping on childcare hours often pay for it by working until midnight. It might seems smart to save money, but this schedule isn’t sustainable. In addition to fatigue and crabbiness, there’s nothing as unprofessional as a toddler screaming while you’re on a conference call.

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