How Busy Parents Get Better Sleep
Submitted by natasha on Fri, 2011-10-14 16:00
Getting a good night’s rest is a problem for most people, and for new parents it’s almost impossible. But as new parents, more than anyone, you need to feel rested and alert. After all, you’ve got your normal responsibilities to return to, plus a new and very precious presence in your lives.
Lack of sleep can cause confusion, poor memory, incoordination, mood swings, extreme irritability, and weight gain. According to Joyce Walsleben, M.D., author of A Woman’s Guide to Sleep: Guaranteed Solutions for a Good Night’s Rest, new parents lose up to 700 hours of sleep during their baby’s first year.
So if a full night’s sleep is just not possible, what are the best ways to recharge your energy?
Claudio Stampi, author of Why We Nap, pointed out that we may be genetically predisposed to polyphasic sleeping—the practice of taking fewer, shorter sleeps in a 24 hour period. Stampi feels it possible to stay healthy and functional based on a series of naps instead of the traditional eight hours of night time sleep.
The key to getting quality sleep, whether it’s a bedtime snooze or a power nap, lies in preparing your body and mind to take the journey together.
Here are 4 tips to help you get a restful sleep:
1. Minimize background distractions. Turn off the television and dim the lights. If you like to listen to music, switch to soothing tracks.
2. Let your brain coast to a stop. Don’t try to multi-task, answer emails, return phone calls, or finish paperwork. Firing up your brain pre-sleep will just keep you stressed and mentally awake, even if your eyelids are drooping.
3. Have a soothing snack. Try to time naps after a small, healthy meal. The same foods that help your baby sleep may help you by taking the edge off low-level hunger or nervous tension. Bananas, milk or pasta are popular sleep-inducing foods. Avoid sugary or high-fructose nibbles and reach for complex carbohydrates or foods high in calcium and potassium.
4. Engage in soothing rituals. Whether it’s a hot bath before your regular bedtime, or a full body stretch before a nap, a soothing ritual helps calm the brain and relax your muscles, which is conducive to falling asleep quickly.
If you plan to sleep for only 20-30 minutes, try using a high quality acupressure mat like the Spoonk Acupressure Mat. Use Spoonk to ease quickly into a state of deep and rejuvenating relaxation. The Spoonk works by stimulating energy meridians and circulation from the scalp to the base of the spine, and across the back. The increased circulation releases endorphins and the hormone oxytocin, the same hormone released during breast-feeding. Oxytocin promotes feelings of peaceful relaxation, confidence and self-esteem. Together, the endorphins and increased oxytocin levels quickly chase away stress and induce a state of deep and blissful relaxation.