Sleep Care is Self Care

Grit & Glamour Club_Sleep Care is Self Care

Health and wellbeing are greatly impacted by our sleep care habits. Sleep deprivation can negatively affect our daily routines, happiness, and health. 

Since the start of the pandemic, more people have been in isolation and working from home, making it easier to lose that sense of routine. I’ve definitely found myself staying up way later than I should. It’s been easy for time to slip away. When this happens, you can lose track of your routine. 

As part of self care, it is important to ensure that we take good care of ourselves, including getting enough sleep. When we have little ones running around, getting enough rest is especially important, because a tired parent can be cranky and impatient, resulting in guilt and feeling down on ourselves. We deserve to feel the opposite. In this post, I’ve listed a few tips that I have found helpful in prioritising sleep.

You must have a sleep routine

The importance of having a sleep care routine for yourself is just as important as it is for your children. Have a set wake-up time. If you can wake even fifteen minutes before the kids are due to rise, it will be beneficial. Similarly, try to stick to a bedtime with room for a half-hour deviation on other side (if needed). You should also allow yourself time to wind down before bedtime. This is good for our bodies’ Circadian Rhythm, which aligns our natural sleep and wake-up cycles. I’m also guilty of waking in the night and checking my phone for the time, try not to do this and keep your device away from your sleep area. Having your phone out of arm’s reach can help you get a good night’s sleep. A restful night will result in a productive day, or give you the best chance of one as sleep has a direct impact on concentration and energy levels.

Eat and drink well

We all know how this works in theory but in reality it can be sometimes difficult to implement. If I’ve had a bad night with one of the boys, or stayed up later than I should, eating and drinking well goes totally out the window. I know it will help how I’m feeling to eat on the healthier side, but it’s a vicious circle as when tired, your body naturally craves the sugar and fattier foods. This is because lack of sleep releases the hormone, ghrelin, which makes you feel the junk food cravings more. Then, you feel more exhausted after eating these food types as a result. Diet and sleep do work hand in hand. Being mindful of this relationship can also help control weight gain. We also know that keeping hydrated helps our energy levels but some days I will just drink tea and very limited water. Try and up your water intake slowly if new to you. If you’re not a fan of plain water, you can opt for sparkling or add a slice of lemon.

It’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol or anything with caffeine before you go to sleep, and avoid sugary snacks before bed. Avoid consuming high carbohydrate intake before bed, as carbs reduce the amount of time your body spends in the deep sleep cycle. Stick to a diet high in fruits and vegetables, vitamins, minerals, and lean meats and fish instead. If you feel peckish before you go to sleep, try something protein-rich, such as nuts or cheese.

Exercise

The timing of exercise matters. Exercising in the day can make your body feel tired and aid sleeping well. Though if you exercise too closely to your bedtime (within an hour or two) it will release endorphins and have the opposite effect. These will keep you awake and prevent you from drifting off. Exercising before breakfast is the best time. You don’t have to commit to long runs, swims or classes, any movement is helpful, so if exercising is new to you, start with the little and often approach. The NHS recommends  150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise per week. The sessions should be spread evenly over the week. 

Good sleep practice

I’m the worst at jumping in bed quickly if I’m catching up with my phone or using the laptop. Just try to get into bed at bedtime or when you have some downtime before bed. When you’re getting ready for bed, reading can help you relax. Bossy Girl has some great tips on how to fit reading into a busy daily schedule. You should always start the day as you mean to go on, so make the bed as soon as you’re up and out of it.

Finally

Taking care of your sleep has so many health benefits, including improving your ability to fight infections, controlling your weight, reducing blood pressure and improving your mood. There have been numerous studies linking sleep deprivation to anxiety and depression, so getting enough sleep really helps overall health in so many positive ways. 

If your sleep routine isn’t what it should be, taking the time to focus on the points highlighted can really make the world of difference to your wellbeing and that feeling filters down through the family. Rather than trying everything all at once, if you have more than one sleep-related concern, focus on one area each week until all have been incorporated into your natural sleep routine. You are worth it! 

Grit & Glamour Club is where you’ll find my latest posts. Think chatting to a good friend and expect to read articles on motherhood, self-care and work-life, home-life balance.

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