How To Make The Most Of A Bad Sleep
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It’s not that I actively prevent myself from sleeping. Trust me, I like to sleep. I love sleeping. It just so happens that I have a toddler who doesn’t - and who hasn’t for the best part of nearly two years. I can’t necessarily help the fact that my sleep is not always up there in the recommended 8 hours zone. I’ve spent many an hour reading through articles, poured over The Gentle Sleep Book and I've had one too many a cry over the fact that my child doesn't sleep through. My outlook though has changed as time has gone on, and I am simply embracing the extra cuddles and my recurring membership to the 3am no-sleep club, because after all - this won't last forever. Instead of trying to fix something that isn't so easy to fix, I made the switch to make the most of the little sleep I do manage to get.
Sleep isn’t for the weak; it’s for the realistic. It’s for the normal functioning humans. But, sometimes it's just not possible. Sometimes we make the most of a bad situation and we adapt. I like to think that is what I've done, and with trial and error (and a whole lot of overtired sobbing) I've found the best way to make the most out of the little sleep I do get and I thought I would share for the tired mama's out there.
How To Improve Your Sleep
1. Get A Routine Down Pat
For once, we are talking about a routine that isn't related to the littles. Babies are not the only one's who benefit from a set schedule every day. Routine promotes calmness and control, two things that really contribute to a deeper sleep (until that first wake up call at least). My routine doesn't necessarily follow the strict 'bath-book-bed' structure that my one year old's does, instead it's an easily interchangeable set of goals. I should be in bed by 10.30pm. I should spend twenty minutes winding down with some airy fairy candles and a book that leaves me asking questions. I should wear real, clean pyjamas - no leggings here. I should commit to a semi-adult beauty regime before bed that amounts to more than just a baby wipe. I should get up at 7am every morning.
They may not be groundbreaking, but it gives a little bit of consistency, which ultimately help set your body’s sleep-wake cycle and encourage a better night’s rest overall. The only downside? To truly make it work, you need to maintain that routine over the weekend, which means no more Sunday lie in's for me!
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2. Upgrade To A Decent Mattress
I sound like such a mom, but getting a new mattress was a game changer. I don’t think I’ve ever realised just how much of a difference a good quality mattress can make to the quality of your sleep. Our last mattress came from Wowcher (yes, we bought into that advert) and after two months, a new found bad back and £150 down the toilet, I realised that cheap and cheerful was probably not going to be the way to go when it comes to where I sleep. Beth called it when she said you should always invest in things that go between you and the floor - your shoes, your car and your mattress. Well, I upgraded the car a few months ago, my bank balance does not warrant some Louboutins, so that leaves us with the mattress.
I upgraded our mattress to a Leesa Mattress, and I certainly haven't looked back. The Leesa mattress boasts a fancy Universal Adaptive Feel which for those of us who don’t speak mattress, means that each side adapts to the person sleeping on it. It has three layers of varying levels of fancy foam, no springs to manoeuvre around which was a helluva winner in my books and an uncanny ability to make me never want to leave it. I never thought a mattress would really make that much of a difference to how I slept, but then again, I had never tried a really good mattress. Leesa is not the cheapest on the market, a double will set you back £599 - but it’s worth every penny if your not going to have to replace it less than three months time (Wowcher, I’m looking at you).
They also offer a 100 night no obligation trial, which says a lot for the product, and also means you can try it out for yourself risk free. You can also get £100 off with the code 'LIFEWITHBOYS' #shamelessplug.
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3. No Tech Before Bed
For most, casually scrolling through social media, skimming ASOS, and other mindless tasks on computers, smartphones, or tablets are a regular habit at the end of the day because it “feels” somewhat relaxing and we get to catch up on what we missed during the day. However, this is a no-go if your looking to really make the most of your sleep. It's not just the risk of falling down the trap of turning an innocent scroll into a full-on stalk of Georgia from Love Islands' best friends' brothers' girlfriend who has a really nice skirt from Pretty Little Thing. It's more than that. Instead of helping your brain power-down, using Instagram, or your phone in general, will stimulate your mind and can even trigger a hormonal response that prevents your body from really switching off.
Trade your midnight scrolling/stalking/or whatever-it-is-you-do-time for a less stress-reducing alternative. If you just can’t say no to a good Netflix binge-watching in bed, set a realistic cut off time, and stick to it (so basically, don't start a new series) - if possible, do the same for your phone. I for one am taking baby steps, and that means unfortunately my phone remains within arms reach at all times. One thing I have done is start to make use of the Night Shift feature on my iPhone. Think of it like a warm, dimmer switch and this has been scientifically proven to help you get a better nights' sleep. Failing that, go cold turkey and grab a book - I hear those still exist...
4. Goodbye Caffeine?
Not entirely, god no. But caffeine really should be taking a back seat if your trying to really tune into an optimal sleeping pattern, well as optimal as possible. It seems counter productive, as we all know caffeine can give that much needed kick when you've had a rough night, but in reality it can just make the situation a whole lot worse. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, we all know that, so of course if we drink a Caramel Macchiato at 8pm, chances are we're probably going to have a difficult time switching off come 10.30pm. Caffeine can still have stimulatory effects for up to 6 hours after, so it's not quite as simple as cutting out the coffee before Love Island comes on. We all know I'm a coffee addict, so I'll settle for being bleary eyed for the sake of a good Mocha, but I've been sticking to a cut off time of 2pm for the last few months, and I've saw a huge improvements in my quality of sleep.
Or maybe that was my new bedtime routine.
Or maybe the reduced screen time.
Maybe it was the fact I now have an ace mattress.
Speaking of which, if you are serious about improving your sleep and you are not quite ready to give up that evening coffee (I'm with you, don't worry!) You can use the code 'LIFEWITHBOYS' to give you £100 off of any Leesa mattress, so if that's not an incentive I don't know what is.
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Disclosure: This post was created in collaboration with Leesa, who provided a Leesa Mattress for review, but as always all views and opinions expressed are my own. We are still within our 100 day trial period, but I can almost guarantee you would have to fight me to take that mattress off of my bed. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.