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Ten years ago, a tiny newborn gave new meaning to every part of my life — less emotionally touching was the erratic schedule that he brought with him. It was a schedule that overrode everything I planned, from grocery shopping to weekends away. Amidst all the delight of my new little joy, there was only one thing I actually missed – sleep.

Before having children, a nap didn’t seem so valuable. In fact, sleep in general was so plentiful (or unplentiful) as I liked, that I felt I was in complete control. Then, one by one, my children arrived. With each bundle of perfection, dreamland became a more precious and unreliable commodity.

While mothers tend to make concrete plans for their children to be in bed with the perfect pre-bed routine, it’s rare to find mothers who make as deliberate of a commitment for their own slumber. Yet, what if creating healthier pre-sleep habits means being a better parent? Or, better yet, a more compassionate and caring person? A well-rested adult has the ability to engage on a deeper level with those around them. More obviously, it also gives us more energy during the day.

Jumpstart your way to a restful night with these simple tips:

Don’t Eat Or Drink Before Bed
Common nighttime routines for adults include a snack (women often cite “chocolate”) and water or wine. If you want to maximize your sleep benefits, pass on all three. While initially these might make you feel more content, food and drinks won’t let you fully rest because they cause your body to work long after you close your eyes.

Stretch
It’s important to avoid exercises that can get your heart rate up, but stretching gently is beneficial and relaxing for both your mind and body. Be sure to breath deeply and reflect on the joys in your life to make the most of each movement.

Avoid Screens
We’ve probably all read how our screens’ artificial lights are disrupting our sleep, but there is one more very important reason to avoid screens: watching the news, a suspenseful show, or checking social media has been proven to give most adults anxious or stressed feelings. The top reasons women have a hard time falling asleep? Anxiety & stress! While this simple rule will not rid you of all anxiety or stress, it will give you the power to avoid some of it.

Don’t Take (Most) Naps
The truth is, we will never “make up” for lost hours of sleep during naptime. Napping can create a vicious cycle of sleep competition that will leave us exhausted. By sleeping during the day, we are literally at war with the more restful sleep we need at bedtime. Try the Power Nap method to ensure naps that won’t mess with your nights’ sleeps. Most importantly, make sure you never nap for more than 30 minutes in the afternoon.

Set Your Bedtime
Studies have proven that going to bed at the same time each night increases your sleep benefits. While the amount of sleep each person needs varies (you can work with this rule to find out what works best for you) generally 7-9 hours of sleep is appropriate. Estimate your children’s wake up time and work backward from there to calculate what time you should be hitting the hay. If you have a baby who still wakes during the night, you’ll also need to add more time to account for wake periods.

Have you found any tips or tricks that make your motherly sleep more restful?

Image via Anthropologie

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