I could really do with getting a bit less sleep. Said. No. Parent. Ever. The holy grail of daily rest might well be eight hours but for those of us with newborns, toddlers or bed-invading seven-year-olds, that sort of shut-eye is the stuff of pre-parental dreams. We want more sleep, we know how important it is but we just can’t get our hands on the stuff.
No one wants to wish their child’s babyhood away but, of course, the newborn stage ends, the 5am wake-up calls reduce and eventually (or so they tell me) no one wants to creep into your bed in the dead of night anymore. But until we hit the eight hours jackpot once more, what can we do to make bedtime (ours not theirs) a bit more pleasant and a lot more restful and restorative? In honour of World Sleep Day (16 March), we’ve compiled a list of our favourite ways to up the ZZZ-factor…Because even one extra hour of sleep is an hour well spent.
Cut the caffeine
You might be running on empty from dawn till dusk but caffeine after 2pm can play havoc with your sleep patterns. Try swapping that afternoon pick-me-up for a calming cup of Pukka camomile or try out the adaptogen trend and sprinkle Dream Dust in your bedtime hot chocolate.
Early to Bed
We know ‘me-time’ is hard to come by and the temptation to delve into Netflix the second your children hit the hay is S.T.R.O.N.G but an early night can work wonders in the sleep stakes. If you’re still being woken regularly in the night (either to feed a baby or settle an older child) getting a couple of hours in before the first wake-up call can up your sleep quota to sanity saving levels. Even if you have older children who rarely wake, going to bed early/when they do once a week is a great way to get in some bonus zzz’s.
Make Light Work
If you need to turn a light on while you feed your baby make sure it’s a gentle one. Salt lamps cast a soothing warm glow (they’re said to have some health benefits, too) while a slow-fade bedside light is a great way to gently settle not only your child, but yourself, back to sleep.
We’re not about to tell you to ditch your iPhone during the night feeds – that would be akin to withdrawing maternal life support, right? – but make sure you use the ‘night shift’ mode to reduce your exposure to wakeful blue light. And once you are out of the newborn trenches, a digital detox for an hour before bed is worth the peaceful sleep pay off.
Finding time to chill out in a hot bath before bed is a great way to get in the zone for sleep. Light a candle, put on a podcast and pretend you’re at a spa with a pleasing product or two. MOA’s Dreamy Soak, packed with Himalayan pink salt and lavender, cardamon, pine and yarrow, is one of the most potent (and divine smelling) sleep-aid bath soaks we’ve tried. Or try adding a handful of magnesium-rich Epsom salts to your bath, great for soothing aching muscles and promoting restful sleep.
If your issue is mainly falling back to sleep after those nocturnal wake-up calls, meditation can be useful zoning out tool. There are countless apps out there to help guide you along, too. Try Headspace or Calm.
Worried if you so much as set foot in a bath you’ll fall asleep and drown? We’ve all been there. Go straight to bed (do not pass Go or the dishwasher) and get your aromatherapy fix with an soporific spritz of Ren Now to Sleep pillow spray, a blend of lavender, hops and frankincense that naturally aids sleep. Alternatively, try a spot of pulse point aromatherapy… Tata Harper’s Aromatic Bedtime Treatment is one of the best natural insomnia cures we’ve tried, while Elemis Sleep Perfume Oil is a great-smelling way to smooth the road to sleep. And if you fancy nailing sleep and skincare in one fell swoop, a few drops of Neom’s Perfect Night’s Sleep Face Oil nourishes and hydrates like a dream.
Meditation, special oils, phone bans and no coffee?! Sometimes all you want to do is shut the world out for a while (eight hours would be nice). We love a Breakfast-at-Tiffany’s-style silk eye mask for pretending we don’t have a vampiric toddler who laughs in the face of sleep but it’s SpaceMasks self-heating numbers that best do the job of knocking us out. Something to do with iron fillings, oxygen and jasmine… we were too busy becoming unconscious to pay attention.