Tricks for Treating 'Momsomnia'
SleepSwag is a paid sponsor of this post.
Every new mom's probably heard the phrase "sleep now before the baby comes" enough times to pay for said baby's college tuition. As tired an axiom as it might be, it's true nonetheless. Sleeping with a newborn or infant is a borderline futile exercise between waiting for bub's circadian rhythms to establish and breastfeeding every five minutes.
Another popular phrase in early parenthood: sleep when baby sleeps. 'T'were it only so simple. Sure, your body may feel physically exhausted, but the mind is a much harder machine to power down. With so many to-dos and what-ifs staring new moms square in the face, relaxation and rest are difficult to come by, even when you're more tired than you ever thought humanly possible.
As a grade A worrier, I've battled a few bouts of 'momsomnia' since Harlow came into the world. The cruelest joke that's ever been played on me is finally getting my baby to sleep in her own room for more than a couple hours at a time, only to lie in bed wide awake for most of the night. It almost broke me, mentally. I came out of it after a few torturous nights with a learned lesson or two on how to better prepare my post-natal body and brain for sleep. Just a few simple tweaks to your nighttime routine can make all the difference, so today I'm sharing my tried-and-true tips and tricks to get a good night's sleep.
By now you're no stranger to the evils of your phone or iPad's artificial/blue light in the bedroom when you're getting ready to go to sleep. (If you're unaware of how it affects sleep, you can read more here). Truth time: I'm guilty of this. I'm fingerprints-at-the-scene-of-the-crime guilty of this sleep sin.
However, as easy as it is to scroll around on your phone before hitting the hay, I have noticed I get better, more restful sleep when I put the phone down. By creating a 360° sensory detox, I wind down peacefully into a restful night's sleep. And it all starts with my sleep mask.
I never thought of myself as a sleep mask person until I became a mom. All my opinions on sleep masks - too frilly, too heavy on my face - were legitimate, but only because I hadn't found the proper mask. SleepSwag's masks are so soft and comfortable, I barely even feel it on my face. (They're made of silk and natural cotton, so no wonder!). Once I get it in place, it actually feels soothing (and pampering!) instead of irritating.
Science will tell you why sleep masks are so beneficial. I'm going to tell you why they're a great tool for tired moms. For starters, physically putting on the mask signals your brain that it's time to sleep. You know how pouring that glass of wine at 5:00 indicates the day is winding down and you're just a couple hours away from kid-free quiet time? It's a similar concept, using a ritual to move into the next phase of your day (or night, as it were).
The SleepSwag masks are nice and plush, lightweight but substantial enough to block out annoying light sources that can interrupt your slumber. Headlights, street lamps...spouses scrolling on Facebook late into the night....those kinds of things. Then there's the sun to contend with when you want to sneak in an afternoon siesta during baby's nap. For me, I find my sleep mask incredibly helpful for blocking out daytime sunlight and inducing sleep more quickly. Who knows how long baby will sleep, so the sooner I can drift off, the better! The same principle applies to those dreaded random middle-of-the-night wakings. I've struggled going back to sleep after repeated trips into the nursery; my sleep mask helps me reset and fall back asleep in a short amount of time.
Wearing my sleep mask is now a major part of my bedtime routine, and when combined with these other relaxation techniques, my body and mind wind down into the best sleep I can get this side of motherhood.
Sip a calming herbal tea such as traditional chamomile, or try a special blend like Yogi Bedtime or Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime.
Mist your pillow with a calming pillow spray like this Lavender Chamomile Mist. Both scents are natural calming aromatics that help you relax, plus their effects bring that zen-like spa feeling to your bed chamber. Toss the spray bottle in your carry on when you travel for better sleep on the road.
Read a good ol' fashioned paper book, but try to avoid thrillers or page turners that will stimulate the mind. I love a literary classic or something lighthearted and funny before I hit the hay. I'm loving I Totally Meant To Do That, a hilarious read about a southern belle (NC born and UNC bred!) adapting to life in New York City.
Keep a journal or notepad nearby to jot down anything and everything that's on your mind. You can treat it like a diary or a repository for reminders of things that come to mind that you don't want to forget. By writing your thoughts and to-dos down on paper, you won't worry so much about forgetting or dropping the ball. Because mom brain is REAL, folks! If you're not into the old school way, download the Do! app onto your phone to keep a running tab of to-dos in your back pocket. Since phones are our fifth appendage, you can consult your list when you're out running around. Take it from someone who just braved grocery shopping in the rain with a baby and realized I forgot my handwritten list after I was already pushing the cart to the produce section.
Turn your baby monitor down to the lowest volume setting. Moms are programmed to hear the slightest whimper, but sometimes babies make sounds when they're settling or dreaming that moms don't need to jump out of bed over. In fact, pausing to see if baby falls back asleep on her own before rushing in to check on her has been shown to encourage self-soothing and help bridge baby's sleep cycles, two things that are essential to getting baby to sleep through the night.
Eliminate any cause for concern in baby's room. That sounds like an obvious one, I know. What I mean is, remove anything that you, an overly cautious mom, may think about and take from 0 to 100 on the anxiety scale. For instance, for months I had a banner tied to the outside of Harlow's crib in four knots, so tightly that I couldn't even loosen it. I even hired a doula to consult with me on creating a restful, happy space in Harlow's nursery and she said the banner was A-okay. But one night, after Harlow started sitting up in her crib, I convinced myself she would somehow pull the banner off and it would lead to mortal disaster. She was soundly sleeping, so it wasn't like I could go in there and try to pry the banner off without waking her up. So I just sat there and worried myself sick in typical Brooke fashion. The next morning, I took the banner off, pushed her nightstand back, and repositioned her sound machine (and its power cord) so I could be sure she'd never get ahold of anything that could pose the slightest risk to her. Over the top? Probably. But aside from creating the safest space possible for my baby, I eliminated any spark of worry that would set my mind ablaze at midnight.
Remember that worry is wasted energy and won't do a bit of good in changing an outcome. Make peace with the fact that you're doing the best you can and that there's only so much you can accomplish in one day when you're balancing baby, work, home, life, your relationships, and your social calendar. Use that bedside notepad to write down tomorrow's priorities, then leave them 'til tomorrow. If something is nagging at you, sometimes it's better to get up and get it over with rather than tossing and turning while you stress over it. But, if you can't get out of bed and fix it, then let it go.
You can shop my mask and some more of my favorite patterns below online, or click here for a list of local retailers that keep them in stock. Don't you love the cute yet slightly quirky designs of SleepSwag's masks? They make such great stocking stuffers or hostess gifts, too! And who couldn't use some extra zzz's after a whirlwind holiday season!
Thank you to SleepSwag for partnering on this post! I do not accept partnerships with brands or retailers if I do not believe in or genuinely vouch for the product. All opinions stated herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of SleepSwag or its employees.