It’s the most blissful thing isn’t it?
When your kids actually go to bed.
And stay in bed.
And you get to sleep.
And they stay asleep.
And they don’t get you up.
For the loo. Or a drink.
Or the monster in the wardrobe. Who is very small and tiny. But going to jump out any minute. And grow so big. And gobble them. If they shut their eyes.
And sleep is utterly blissful, isn’t it?
If you don’t toss and turn.
And worry about this and that.
And everything and nothing.
And dream the most terrible things.
‘Cos that really is the rub.
And the sleep we don’t get, night after night – the good sleep – is so sorely missed.
So much other stuff in our families untangles –
doesn’t it? –
without that essential sleep.
So what on earth can we do about it?
Are there actually any sleep tips that can make a difference?
Well you know what?
I have read so many blinking sleep tips over the years.
I’ve EVEN got a board on Pinterest just for sleep tips!
And to be honest, too many are yah-di-yah blindingly obvious
– yes, I know I should get off Facebook and NOT watch Netflix till midnight!
Or utterly unrealistic – we’re never going to do some fancy yoga – meditation – thingy before bed.
But the biggest problem, I’ve found.
Is these sleep tips start at the end.
Not the beginning.
Because it’s what we do during the day that makes the biggest difference to how we sleep.
I mean when you think about it, it makes sense.
We expect too much from sleep.
It can’t just absorb the crap we throw at ourselves. Daily.
And I really believe, more and more –
from hard won experience –
if we want our families to sleep better.
It’s no use waiting till night time.
We need to tackle our days first.
So here are my five essential sleep tips that help us most.
My Essential Sleep Tips
1. Say Hello To the Morning
Get out in the daylight as early as you possibly can.
Jump around in the garden or the park.
And say hello to the morning.
‘Cos if you don’t. She’ll remember.
And there’s not a chance she’ll let you sleep.
And this isn’t some mumbo-jumbo rubbish I’m spinning you!
I promise. It’s science.
A proper burst of daylight first thing keeps our circadian rhythm in sync.
2. Breakfast On Old Carbs
My second essential sleep tip is to breakfast on old carbs.
NO! Not the fusty cornflakes at the back of the cupboard silly.
But the old carbs.
People used to eat. Millenia ago.
Oats. Spelt. That kind of stuff.
‘Cos they keep us full.
And off the sugar and the caffeine and the high GI processed wheat.
And THEY (the sugar etc) are the bogeymen.
Who will haunt our sleepless nights.
Until our dying days!
3. Run Around In the Park
My third essential sleep tip is to have a run around in the park.
And big NB that’s not a run round the park.
Sweaty, jogging is NOT the answer to poor sleep.
This is about playing. And marauding. And yelling. And exploring.
And letting go. Switching off.
And burning off all that restless leg twitching energy we all have.
4. Know Where To Go To Recharge
My fourth sleep tip is really – I guess
– all about knowing ourselves.
Because we recharge our batteries in different ways.
And bizarrely we need to recharge before we go to sleep.
Some of us need real social time –
pure chat time with family or friends – to process the day.
And some of us have to have time on our own.
Time to mutter. Time to daydream. Time to write stuff down.
If we don’t recharge before sleeping, our feelings and our brains and our subconscious just whir!
And as parents we need to recognise our kids may recharge their own way.
We may need chat time. They made need space. And vice versa.
5. Do Less
My fifth essential sleep tip is connected to my fourth.
On the days I try to be most efficient, I sleep worse.
If I’ve been non-stop working, child-caring, cleaning, cooking I’m not ready to sleep.
However exhausted I am.
And that’s when I get on Facebook. And Netflix.
And do more work.
And am even more exhausted.
We try to cram ever more into our days.
If we don’t allow ourselves – AND our kids – the down time to be in the moment and read a book or listen to music or go for a walk or just sit and watch the world go by, we won’t sleep.
We don’t need complicated lessons in mindfulness meditation.
We just need to remember to rest during the day. And the week.
Because irony of ironies, if we’re not rested, we can’t sleep.
So there you go.
My five essential sleep tips.
That really do make a difference in my family.
I do hope they help yours.
I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts. Do share.