How well do you sleep at night? Are you getting the rest you really need? Most of us probably aren’t, and that needs to change if we want to feel our best.
Most sleep experts recommend that we get somewhere between 6-8 hours of sleep each night. After my twins started sleeping through the night, I happily settled back in to my old routine of going to bed early, and getting up early.
Even though I was spending time in my room trying to rest, I wasn’t really getting a lot of sleep. My mind was racing, and I was exhausted! I decided to research healthy sleep habits to see what I could change to help myself get a better night’s rest. Here’s what I found:
Reasons Why You Might Not Be Sleeping Well At Night
- Sleeping with your cell phone nearby. I had no idea at the time, but having my phone nearby was causing me to lose out on a lot of sleep. I would read on my phone before bed, and that made me stay up longer than I normally would.
- “Researching” in the middle of the night. I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and worry about random things. I’m getting better about not doing it, but it still happens from time to time. When I slept with my cell phone in my room, I would wake up, worry about one of my sons being sick, and immediately get onto my phone to research it on WebMD. Then, I’d have trouble going back to sleep. So I’d research some more.
- Your bedroom isn’t quiet. Does your partner snore? If s/he does, you know that’s interrupting your sleep. Having a sleep test done might be a good idea. If your partner says that you snore, you could have a sleep test done too.
- Sleeping with baby monitors nearby. When our babies were very young, we decided to buy video baby monitors so we could see if they needed help in the middle of the night. It was one of the best investments we made, and made our lives as parents of twins so much easier. However, sleeping next to those monitors every night wasn’t such a good thing. I heard every noise coming from the children’s rooms, and if I left the video screen on, they emitted light.
- Not getting enough exercise. Exercise and time spent outside can help you sleep more soundly.
I decided to start trying to exercise more. I hoped that exercising would make me feel more tired, and sleep better at night. I started slow, and walked a little bit each evening. After a while, I decided to start tracking the number of steps I took each day, so I bought a FitBit.
One thing I didn’t know about the FitBit, is that it tracks your sleep as well as your steps. By wearing the device at night, I could see exactly how much time I was sleeping, when I was restless, and when I was awake.
I don’t think the FitBit is 100 percent accurate, but I also don’t think it’s completely inaccurate. Consistently, I was seeing that I was only sleeping 3-4 hours a night. I woke up several times during the night, and I was really restless. When I saw these readings, I knew I needed to make some changes. These little changes helped me, and if you’re having trouble getting sleep, they might help you too:
Changes You Can Make to Improve Your Sleep
- Don’t keep your cell phone next to your bed. (I know this is a hard habit to break!) I plug it in in our kitchen at night, and leave it there until the morning. If my husband is gone or working late, I keep my phone in the room until he’s back in case of emergency
- Don’t check your phone in middle of the night. With the phone out of my room, this is almost impossible. I do keep a notepad by my bed, and if I think of something I need to remember or want to research, I write it down so I’ll remember it in the morning.
- Use a quality white noise machine. This creates a steady background noise. Our house is very close to our neighbors’ houses, and some of them just aren’t quiet people. The machine drowns out their noise, which is nothing short of miraculous! If you don’t want to invest in a white noise machine, you could try using a fan.
- Move the baby monitors across the room. I can still see them and hear them, but they’re not blaring in my ears all night long. One would argue that I should get rid of the baby monitors all together, but we’re not ready for that yet. It’s working for our family, so we’re going to stick with it.
- Go to bed a little bit earlier. Instead of going to bed at 9:30 or 10:00, I’m going to bed at 9:15.
- Read before bed. I really try to read fiction, because I find that reading non-fiction sometimes energizes instead of calms. Not always, though. I’m sure you can remember some old textbooks that would put you to sleep in less than a minute. I don’t read on my phone or on a device that gives off a lot of light.
- Sleep in a cool room. It’s not always possible, but if you can open a window, or turn on the air conditioning, it could help you get a better night’s sleep.
- If it’s not hot, use a heavy blanket. I learned this from a friend of mine who uses a weighted blanket for her child. Having the weighted blanket helps her daughter feel more calm and secure in bed. I don’t have a weighted blanket, but sometimes I use a heavy throw over the top of our normal bedding. It does help!
- Sometimes it’s okay to sleep later. For a long time, I was an advocate of getting up early to have alone time, and get things done. I still think getting up early is great, but I’m trying to pay off a pretty massive sleep debt. For the last two weeks, I’ve been sleeping later. Instead of getting up at 4:30 or 5:00 am, I get up at 6:00. I still have some time to myself, but I’m getting an extra hour of rest. Over two weeks, this is almost like getting two extra nights of sleep.
Everyone has different circumstances when it comes to getting enough sleep. It’s definitely worth looking into ways you can improve your own sleep circumstances so you can get a better night’s sleep.
I’m still looking for ways to improve my evening routine so I can set myself up for a better night’s rest. One thing that’s been helping me is Money Saving Mom’s Make Over Your Evenings course. I just started it a couple of days ago, and it’s given me a lot of ideas for how to create an evening routine that works for me during this season of life.
Since I’ve started focusing on getting more sleep, the biggest change I’ve noticed is that I feel more calm throughout the day, and I drink less coffee. I’d say the changes I’ve noticed have definitely been worth the small effort I’ve had to put into improving my sleep habits.