According to the CDC, one in three American adults aren’t getting at least seven hours of sleep per night and that stat is likely even higher for working moms with kids under the age of 18.
Every stage of motherhood poses a threat to our sleep. Obviously the newborn phase is the toughest, when we’re nursing and changing diapers around the clock. Then the infant stage arrives and poses challenges when we’re working on sleep training. The toddler stage is next and is often filled with bedtime tantrums, potty training and bad dreams about scary monsters. The preschool and elementary school stages may still involve some bedtime protesting and bad dreams and the teenage stage may involve worrying throughout the night about missed curfews, peer pressure, getting into college and more.
And this doesn’t even include all of our work stresses that impact our sleep, such as working late nights to finish a quarterly business review presentation, catching an early morning flight at the crack of dawn for an important client meeting and never-ending deadlines and administrative tasks to complete, such as writing performance reviews and submitting expense reports.
However, there’s hope for working moms to take back control of our sleep. It just involves a little organization, planning and discipline. Here are four ways to do just that.
1. Put away all screens an hour before bedtime: Yes, it might be hard to put away our screens when we tell ourselves that sending those last three emails will mean a less stressful day at work tomorrow. It may also be hard to stop our venting session over text with our girlfriend about our husband’s snoring or how much we dislike making school lunches. However, it’s important to be vigilant about closing computer, tablet and smart phone screens an hour before bedtime so we can truly wind down, get a good night’s sleep and be more productive the next day. Storing these screens outside our bedroom is one of the best ways to be disciplined about putting them away and not engaging with them until morning.
2. Pick me-time activities that will promote and not hinder sleep: While it might be tempting to finish binging-watching Game of Thrones on Netflix or have a glass of wine because it was one of those days at work, these nightly me-time activities could be hindering sleep rather than helping. Watching shows filled with intensity could make it hard to fall asleep and having alcohol right before bedtime may result in disrupted sleep in the middle of the night. Therefore, we’re better off taking a relaxing bath, listening to calming music or a guided meditation or reading a book. These will all promote healthy sleep through the night.
3. Set bedroom temperatures at comfortable levels that work for us and our significant other: This one can be tough because in many cases, one person may get cold at night and the other may get hot. According to Sleep.org, the optimal temperature for sleep is 67 degrees. We can negotiate on temperature with our significant others or add an extra blanket if needed. The key is to allow the room to be cool enough to encourage healthy sleep, but not so hot that it negatively impacts sleep.
4. Create a sleep sanctuary with our bedding and bedroom decor choices: We should give ourselves permission to invest in things like high quality bedding, including sheets with high thread-counts, fluffy pillows and soft blankets. We could also consider repainting the walls with a more calming color, removing our kids’ loud toys that were left behind on the floor and placing some aromatherapy candles on our nightstand. These are all ways to create a wonderful sanctuary that will allow us to relax and prepare ourselves for a good night of sleep.
While life as a working mom will inevitably be unpredictable and we won’t always get our desired amount of sleep, especially when we have babies, putting in the effort to practice the above strategies can help us get sufficient sleep more often than not and will help us be more productive and present at work and at home!