As my body has started working harder, creating a tiny human inside of it, I’ve spent some time evaluating my sleep situation and how I can improve it. I believe that good quality sleep is one of the best ways that I can honor and reward my body and mind for the work it has endured over the day. As my bump grows, and the heartburn escalates, I know sleep will not come as easy, so I’m doing everything I can now to maximize my sleep situation.
ESSENTIAL #1: SLEEPING BABY
We’ve been through a variety of phases with Buddy’s sleep. I remember when he slept entirely through the night (10pm to 6am) sometime around 3 months. We were well rested (FINALLY!) and over-the-moon!! We thought we’d won the baby lotto. Well he has yet to do that again, haha. But we’ve had nights where he was up every hour, and nights where he has only woken up once plus anything in between.
Sometime around 5 months we decided to stop nursing him to sleep (a terrible trap to fall into, I know). We discovered that Pat could play guitar or the ukulele and Buddy would drift off to sleep on his own and then for the most part only wake up once for a mid-night nursing. That was all fine and dandy until Pat started traveling more for work. For a moment I did consider learning the ukulele, but my lack of dexterity quickly abolished that aspiration. I needed to try something else.
Enter “sleep training”. We haven’t personally believed in the philosophies of a strict sleep training program other than a few small things (like the “le pause” from Bringing Up Bebe). We have operated under the belief that when children are under a year old, they go through many phases (weaning, teething, growing, etc.) and we didn’t want to subscribe to something so ridged that we would miss listening to our own baby or ourselves. With Pat (and his precious ukulele) out of the picture though, I needed to figure out how I would get Buddy sleeping more soundly through the night on my own.
I picked up The Sleep Easy Solution at the library to get some ideas. A lot of what the book outlines for a sleep training plan we were already doing: we had a sound bedtime routine, Buddy was putting himself to sleep (albeit with his daddy playing music for him but still, he was putting himself to sleep in his crib) and his sleeping situation was well thought out with black out blinds and white noise. With the guidance of this book I just made a few tweaks to our approach and within a week (like the book claims!) Buddy was sleeping better and more consistently than he ever has before- nap time included. I share this with the caveat that a little extra guidance, which aligned with things we had already been trying on our own, worked very well for our scenario. And with a sleeping baby comes sleeping parents. Hallelujah.
ESSENTIAL #2: BEDTIME ROUTINES & GRATITUDE
To improve my sleep even more I decided to evaluate my bedtime routine. First, I no longer keep my phone next to my bed. I found that many nights I would climb into bed at 10pm, and without even knowing I’d be scrolling through my phone well past 11pm. Not only was this bad habit keeping me up later, but I started to consider athe last images and thoughts that would take up space in my mind before I went to sleep. Did I really want my head filled with images and thoughts about the lives of others? Rather, I am using this time to reflect on my day, and taking note of all of the gratitude I have for my life. This small thing has turned around my sleep quality and general happiness. Admittedly, I still fall into the trap of having my phone in bed or ending up in the scrolling world on my iPad but I’m slowly trying to push this habit entirely out of my life.
Second, I am trying to make bedtime an even cozier ritual. I pulled out my essential oil diffuser again and started diffusing my favorite sleep oils, like lavender, bergamot and pine. Sometimes, if I am thinking of it, I bring a warm mug of tea to bed and sip slowly on that to calm my body. I also keep a selection of books to read on hand as well and light a candle to comfort me while I read. Little things like this make going to bed something I am excited about and help my body prepare for a restful night ahead.
ESSENTIAL #3: A COMFY BED
We recently upgraded our scratchy old sheets; awkward sized comforter (that was too short for our feet), and flat pillows and I can’t believe what a difference it has made in our quality of sleep. I’ve been pretty stubborn about investing in quality bedding but now I am a full-believer that you get what you pay for. Our new bed sheets by Tomorrow Sleep are so dreamy, like butter! They stay nice and cool- which is great when you share a bed with a very warm-bodied man. Throw in a fluffy new set of pillows and a comforter that replicates (what I would imagine) the closest scenario to sleeping on a cloud and tuck me in! I highly recommend investigating your sleeping situation, from your mattress, to your comforter and everything in between if you are looking to improve your quality of sleep. Tomorrow Sleep is offering $100 off of a $500 purchase if you are in the market for your own personal cloud to sleep on too. Just click this link and use the code: VIKLUND100 (expires 12/31/17) for $100 off any $500 order.
What’s keeping you from great sleep? Is it a physical thing or an emotional blockage? If we spend 7-8 hours a night in our beds, shouldn’t we do everything we can to ensure that we are honoring our body and the work it does for us all day? From the physical demands, to the emotional ones?