With 3 small children, I have to admit getting sufficient sleep (7-8 hours uninterrupted) hasn’t necessarily been the theme at my house. Between sleep regressions, bad dreams and nights where they don’t eat all of their dinner and wake up for “a little snack” my sleep being interrupted has become a staple these last 5 years.
However, I’ve been sleeping better in this last month than I have in the past 5 years and it’s been the best. I made myself some rules which have helped me sleep better than I have in a while (even if it is interrupted).
Here’s how you can sleep better this summer (based on the 5 bedtime “rules” I made for myself).
WEARING CUTE & COMFY PAJAMAS
You know how they say, dress the part? That goes for bed as well. Throughout most of my adult years, I was the queen of throwing sweats or an old t-shirt to go to bed. I never made an effort to wear actual pajamas – be it casual or fancy – to bed. I changed this a little over a year ago and truly my sleep has benefited from it.
Yes, I think sleep should be aesthetically pleasing. That doesn’t mean it has to be a fuss. But truly, a new pair of pajamas from Soma, Target or even a fancy set from Sleeper can elevate your sleep experience. That’s what sleep is – an experience. It’s an everyday activity that we tend to brush off because it’s something we have to do. But if we have to do it, shouldn’t at the very least be a pleasure?
Here’s what I’ve also learned: seasonal appropriate pajamas make a huge difference. I’ve recently been wearing short sleeve pajamas with cropped pajamas pants in a cotton blend. It has made sleep so comfortable and plus they come in the cutest prints. Sharing some of my faves below from the Soma Cool Nights line who makes the best pajamas for summertime in my opinion. So many great sets!
Also, the act of putting pajamas on conditions your mind and body to know you’re about to go to sleep. Just like when you put on workout clothes, you mentally prepare to work out or when you put on work clothes you know you’re about to work. The same can be said for pajamas and preparing mentally to go to sleep.
We expect sleep to do us good without being intentional. You’re not entitled to good sleep – it’s something you have to be intentional about.
Putting pajamas on should be a part of your bedtime routine – something that I absolutely underestimated. The last couple of weeks I’ve been consistent with it and it has changed my sleep experience for the better without question.
NOT EATING (OR DRINKING) RIGHT BEFORE BED
As the snack queen, this one was hard for me. Aside from it contributing to additional lbs. (eating and then going to sleep for hours while your insulin is super high is not the best choice), it’s hard to do. Your body needs time to digest your food. And you guys know that I’m a huge advocate of a bubble bath plus a nice glass of wine.
But I had to draw a line (because I will take things too far). If it’s after 9:30p, no more food or drink. Anything past that curfew means I missed my opportunity to drink wine because it’ll take a couple of hours to digest and truthfully I’m not interested in going to bed past 11:30p.
Creating a rule for this really has helped me. Honestly, even though the rule seemed a bit mundane, it really does allow me to plan my night accordingly. If I’ve had one of those days where I know I want to get a bath with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc later on, I will go out of my way to stay on schedule and get the kids to bed on time so I don’t miss my new curfew.
I’ve also started doing intermittent fasting where 5 days out of the week I only eat between 12p and 8p. My blood type is AB positive and that means I have less stomach acid than the average person which means it takes much more work to digest food than others. (I read Eat For Your Blood Type to thoroughly understand this.) Bloating is so common for me when I’m not eating the right foods, getting enough sleep or eating around the clock. Intermittent fasting gives my system a much needed break.
My digestive system and my sleeping patterns have really improved since doing this. Some nights I work later than others because of my current schedule and so I’ll stretch the curfew to 9:30p to get in that glass of wine. But that is only happening 1-2 times a week. If I do more than that, I pay for it in bloat and low quality sleep.
DRINKING MORE WATER
Are you really surprised to hear that this has helped? Drinking enough water helps you in every single aspect of your life – truly. Being sufficiently hydrated is key to having focus to get good sleep. When you’re dehydrated, things like dry mouth, headaches or muscle cramps make falling asleep very hard.
The general rule of thumb to be sufficiently hydrated is to drink half of your body weight in ounces (no more than a gallon). For example, if you’re 140 lbs, then you want to drink at least 70 oz of water every day.
What helps me to drink enough water is starting my day off with 12 oz of water (which I use to take my vitamins and probiotics) before having an 8 oz cup of coffee. So even without trying, I have 20 oz within the first two hours of my day. This works out so even if I don’t drink anything again until lunch, I’ve already gotten 20 oz in.
The rule? No coffee until you’ve finished 12 oz of water. And I really like my morning coffee, so I finish those 12 oz. Then I try to drink 8oz of water every hour between 11a and 6p (which is our dinner time). I like to chill after that because you don’t want to wake up from your sleep to use the bathroom. Usually, you want to stop drinking water about 3 hours before bedtime.
I’ve also been drinking out of a 32oz bottle with
REPLACING SCREEN TIME WITH READ TIME
Being on your phone right before bed is also trash for your sleep. Your brain is going several miles per minute and trying to process a bunch of information right before you’re supposed to rest. It doesn’t make for peaceful sleep. Unless I have to do something for work, the rule is I shut my phone down around 9p. And by shut my phone down, I mean no social media where the endless scroll happens. I watch TV on my phone a couple days out of the week, but I don’t like to do that right before bed either. (Some nights I can’t help it though.)
Instead, I’ll switch out my phone for a book or magazine I want to read and honestly I have so much that I want to catch up on (I have magazines from March I still haven’t opened) that this isn’t too hard. Also, reading relaxes me in a way where when I start to feel sleepy, I can close the book and fall into a deep sleep. It’s absolutely fantastic.
SETTING A BEDTIME
So, y’all – I got really crazy and set a bedtime for myself. Yeah, it’s been groundbreaking. The rule? My bedtime is 10:30p. Which means I start getting ready for bed at 10p. Setting a bedtime is a really great self boundary that I hadn’t been taking advantage of.
How do you set your bedtime? Well you have to ask yourself a few questions:
For me, when I get 7 hours hours of sleep, I don’t have a mental fog, I’m in a good mood and I have ample energy. Plus, waking up at 5:30a usually gives me about 60-90 minutes of “me time” before Hubs and the kids wake up. It allows me to have thinking time (which I discuss in my latest IGTV) and start the day a lot more focused and relaxed.
It’s interesting to me that I thought my kids needed a bedtime so they could get adequate rest but never once thought to apply the same process for myself. Sure, you’re an adult and you should have the freedom to go to bed whenever you please. And you do. But setting a bedtime gives you freedom because you have a clear start and stop time for work (professional, personal and/or domestic) to get in bed at a decent time.
Sure, there will be times when you need to stay up to get something done – but that’s likely 1% of the time. Especially when you’re using your time wisely.
I know, I know. Rules allegedly make things not fun. But that’s not true. Rules set boundaries and provide clear principles and expectations for a certain activity. Sleep included. If you expect your sleep to be good, I encourage you to make some rules of your own. They don’t have to be identical to mine to be effective.
Setting my own rules has certainly helped me sleep better. I love that for me.