I had a baby girl about a year ago and lack of sleep has been a common theme and discussion topic in our house. As someone who had always been a good sleeper prior to becoming a mother, the lifestyle change and interrupted sleep patterns came as a bit of a shock. Now, this is not uncommon – I come across lots of new mums in my postnatal yoga and baby yoga classes who also experience disturbed sleep. This can be due to baby waking them up in the night, but also the anxiety and worries associated with their new role as a mother.
In fact, I have become a little obsessed with sleep recently (or the lack of it) and have done a lot of reading around the subject and undertaken specialised training in something called Yoga Nidra or Yogic Sleep. Through this research and training, I have come across some great tips that have helped me and other new mums that I know.
So here are my top sleep hacks that can help mamas in the postnatal period to recharge the batteries and get some well-needed rest.
- Go to bed when you are tired
Day or night, whenever you have the opportunity to go to bed or have a sneaky nap – take it! Don’t feel guilty, don’t ignore the desperate urge for your body to sleep over one more bit of housework or one more episode of a TV series – simply down tools and go to bed. Even if just for ten minutes, when you are tired – go to bed.
- A rest is as good as a nap
Sometimes just stopping for a short rest is as good as getting sleep. Don’t put pressure on yourself to sleep on demand as this can, in fact, be very stressful and prevent you from sleeping or relaxing your mind fully. Just give yourself permission to rest. If that means simply sitting or lying down to stop and watch your breath, that is perfect. You never know you may just drop off for a little nap, but even just stopping and doing nothing for five minutes can work wonders.
- Follow a bedtime routine like your baby
We set bedtime routines for our babies but don’t forget yourself mama! You are so important and need to take care of yourself too. Why not try setting yourself a bedtime routine that begins around 30-60 minutes before your sleep time. For example, you could have a bath, brush your teeth, have a cup of warm milk, read a book or listen to an audiobook or meditation recording. By doing this, your body and mind will become programmed to fall asleep when you want to and with good planning, you get to bed at a similar time every day.
- Make your sleep area just perfect
Create your own little sleep nest for when you do go to bed. Make sure the room you sleep in is dark and the bed you lie down on is 100% comfortable for you – not too hot or cold, not too hard or too soft – just perfect. Use pillows and cushions where you need them and find just the right duvet or blanket. Try relaxing essential oils (such as lavender) or scented candles and have a gentle night light to soften the mood in the room.
- Cut down on caffeine
Now when I am tired I hit the coffee and I know that is true for many new mamas. But to get good sleep it is important to try to cut out caffeine in the late afternoon and evening so that it doesn’t keep you awake when you want to sleep at night. Try a herbal tea or hot cup of milk or cocoa instead.
- Unplug from technology
A big issue for many new mums is the constant use technology that keeps us wired and worried. How often do you Google for an answer to a problem or find a new Facebook group or forum that discusses a baby-related topic – feeding, sleeping, baby’s health. Our smartphones, tablets and computers can take over, not to mention the TV binge-watching, social media and baby photos! Do make sure that you unplug from all technology at least 60 minutes before going to bed – you need to give your mind time to unwind and relax fully and get away from all those unnatural lights.
- Regular relaxation practice
Training the body and mind to relax at other times of the day can also be a great way for you to boost your ability to get better quality sleep at night. Finding a regular relaxation practice such as mindfulness meditation, Yoga Nidra (guided relaxation), yoga, gentle stretches, Tai Chi, or pranayama (breathing exercises) can help you to calm your mind and teach yourself the art of relaxation. Why not try my free 10 minute guided relaxation as a starting point? Try listening to it 7 days in a row to build up relaxation as a habit – do this at another time of the day to bedtime and see if it helps. Or you can download handy apps such as Calm that provide short meditation recordings to listen to.
- Prioritise your sleep
As a new mum, prioritising your sleep needs to be… er a priority. By this, I mean set yourself an alarm for when you go to bed. For you to get the right amount of sleep to feel rested and refreshed in the morning you need to put sleep at the top of your list and ring-fence at least eight hours (or whatever time you allocate) to sleeping. Even if baby wakes you several times a night, you have been in ‘sleep mode’ for that precious eight hours.
I hope these top tips are helpful and why not try incorporating one or two into your daily routine to see if you get better quality sleep and rest?
Have a good rest mama – you deserve it.
Want to Learn More?
For more information about yoga nidra and postnatal yoga with me please visit my website: www.susansworldofyoga.co.uk
I also run a Facebook Group called Rest and Replenish Online especially for people wanting to stress less and sleep more: https://www.facebook.com/groups/177464546393508/
Plus, don’t miss out on my special 6-week online programme for postnatal mummies called: Rest Mama Rest – Guided Relaxations for Whilst Baby Sleeps. The essential companion for tired mamas! These easy to follow guided relaxations provide that all-needed lifeline in the early days of sleeplessness and exhaustion. Listen to these 10-20 minute relaxations whilst your baby sleeps to recharge the batteries and take some ‘me-time’. Use code LOVE25 to receive a 25% discount on the course fee. https://coursecraft.net/courses/z9Szb/splash