One of the most challenging aspects once your baby starts sleeping through the night, is re-establishing healthy sleep habits that also help you sleep through the night. Getting a restful sleep is as important for parents as it is for infants. As a naturopathic doctor, this is a common concern I see with many parents. Below are some of my top tips for both new and experienced parents on getting a restful night’s sleep:
- Get up at the same time each day and go to bed at the same time each day: This will help to establish a natural sleep-wake rhythm for your body. It is particularly important to get up at the same time each day, no matter when you went to sleep. Try to keep this schedule during weekends and holidays if possible.
- Aim for 20 minutes of physical activity each day: This can be as simple as beginning with a 5-minute walk and slowly working your way up to 20 minutes of walking a day. Often times exercising, 1-2 hours before bedtime is a great way to wind down from a busy day and re-set the body. The physical activity should NOT be strenuous in nature and should not be done just before bed. Yoga, gentle stretching and tai-chi are also some gentle yet effective ways to keep active on a daily basis.
- Sleep in a bedroom that is dark, cool and quiet. If needed, consider earplugs or an eye mask: If you live in a noisy area or are sensitive to light, ear plugs or an eye mask can help keep your sleep environment quiet and dark. Another great option is blackout blinds and a sound machine, as they aren’t just for infants!
- Ensure to sleep on a quality mattress and foundation: You may also consider purchasing a foam mattress to place right on top of your existing mattress, for additional mattress support.
- Do not lie in bed staring at the walls for hours if you cannot fall asleep: If you do not fall asleep after 15-20 minutes, it is best to get up and do something quiet until you become drowsy (consider reading, journaling, or a favorite past-time activity. Try not to watch television, get on your phone or computer, or do any activity that may be over-stimulating).
- Unless prescribed, avoid napping during the day: Napping during the day can throw off the body’s sleep schedule and can also lead to difficulty falling asleep.
- Natural sunlight: Natural sunlight during the day can be helpful for falling asleep and staying asleep at night. Natural sunlight establishes maintaining the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Try to get outdoors as much as possible, even if it is simply for a walk or 15-minute hangout in your backyard.
- Try not to rehash the day’s problems or worry about tomorrow when going to bed: Instead focus on relaxing your mind and body, this can begin by relaxing your feet and slowly work your way up to your head. Deep breathing exercises, quiet meditation and a gratitude journal, can all be done 10-20 minutes before bed, and are great ways to unwind before your head hits the pillow.
Dr. Vaishna Sathananthan ND practices in Markham, Ontario at Silver Spruce Naturopathic Clinic. Dr. Vaishna enjoys seeing patients of all ages and has a particular interest in women’s health and pediatrics. For more information on Dr. Vaishna, visit: www.silverspruce.ca.
*Adapted from Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine
Disclaimer: The information/advice provided in any form of communication by Gentle Dreams is not a substitute for medical advice. The advice is for informational purposes only and is intended for use with common sleep issues that are unrelated to medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or the health and welfare of your child.