One of the most important – and probably most neglected – parts of a healthy, active lifestyle is sleep. Lack of sleep can actually cause weight gain along with a whole host of other health problems, such as heart problems, diabetes, and stroke.1 Unfortunately, homeschool moms – moms, in general – are known for burning the candle at both ends in order to get everything done.
I used to be that mom. I regularly stayed up until past midnight in order to get all the boxes checked. A year or so ago, however, I began to add better sleep habits to my lifestyle change and I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel – or how old I feel when it’s 10 p.m. and I can barely hold my eyes open.
To be fair, I have to say that my kids are all teens now, so my sleep routine is no longer codependent on theirs. However, these general tips for a good night’s sleep may help moms of younger kids, too.
Pay attention to room conditions.
I sleep best in a cool, dark room. That can be very difficult to maintain because our room is the top floor and my husband can’t tolerate a fan at night. (You’ve got to love allergies.) Some things that help are:
- Keeping the window open on cool nights
- Having a programmable thermostat – We keep it set to start cooling off around 10 p.m.
- Keeping pets out of the room – Not only does their moving around keep me awake, but they’re like little space heaters when they get on the bed.
- A heat-absorbing mattress pad – We have one for our Sleep Number bed and we love it!
Utilize ambient noise.
I am a light sleeper, easily awakened by noise. And, once I am awakened a couple of times, I can forget going back to sleep. I have discovered that the best ambient noise machine is Brian’s sleep apnea machine, which gets bonus points for stopping the snoring. However, we also have a machine that plays rain, storms, and – my personal favorite – crickets.
If having a fan on doesn’t bother you or your spouse, it can serve double-duty for keeping the room cool and providing ambient noise.
Have regular sleep and wake times.
Having regular sleep and wake times has been more helpful to me than I ever thought it would. Of course, I sometimes am not able to maintain those times, but I’m usually within 30 minutes to an hour of them.
It’s important to know how much sleep you need, too. Some people do well with 7-8 hours a night. I have always needed a lot of sleep – 9 to 10 hours a night. However, I’ve discovered that if I maintain a regular sleep schedule, I can function on less sleep. These days, I get 8 hours most nights.
Have a regular bedtime routine.
You know how you’re supposed to have a regular bedtime routine for kids because it gets them mentally and physically prepared for bed? It works the same way for adults. Now, I know it’s best to turn off all screens an hour or two before bedtime.2 However, Brian and I have made it part of our bedtime routine to watch 30 minutes to an hour of TV together at night. It’s a way to relax and unwind that we’ve both come to look forward to.
I used to have a terrible time falling asleep at night and would toss and turn up to an hour before finally going to sleep. Now, I’m usually lying in bed watching TV by 10:00 and I do good to stay awake long enough to watch the weather on the 11:00 news – and I usually just check the forecast on my phone because I’m ready to go to sleep. That’s much nicer than tossing and turning.
Try power naps.
Because I sleep well enough and long enough most nights now, I’m not usually sleepy during the day. On occasion, though, that familiar mid-afternoon slump will strike. When it does, I’ve found that a 15-20 minute power nap makes me feel so much better and doesn’t disrupt my sleep at night.
Most of the time, there is no danger of me dozing longer than 15-20 minutes. If I feel that I might, though, I set my alarm on my phone so that I sleep only long enough to be refreshed.
If you’re a mom of young kids, taking a short nap while the kids nap can be so beneficial. I know – oh, believe me, I know – how tempting it is to rush around and try to get things done during nap-time, but you might just find that you’re more efficient with a quick cat nap.
I know how hard it can be to make sure you’re getting adequate rest at night during the busy season of life this is motherhood and homeschooling. However, the health benefits make it so worth the effort .
What are your best tips for consistently getting a good night’s rest?
Note: Thanks to everyone who has supported me in my renewed efforts to lose the pounds that have crept back on and everyone who has let me know that you’ve been encouraged by my health and fitness posts. Since I no longer maintain a separate blog for these topics, which are important for all moms regardless of whether or not you’re trying to lose weight, I enjoy sharing them here.
However, in order to keep the primary focus of my blog on homeschooling, I’m going to make my personal fitness updates part of my weekly wrap-up posts. I’ll continue to share health and fitness posts a couple of times a month on Wednesdays.