How parents can get better sleep

A recent study shows that parents don’t recover from newborn sleep deprivation for six years following the birth of their child. While that statistic is staggering, it’s unsurprising considering all of the obstacles parents have to deal with when it comes to getting decent shut-eye. If you’re finding it hard to get your full eight hours these days, these tips may be worth a try.

Limit caffeine intake

Every morning, I start my day with a heaping cup of coffee. It usually gives me a good jumpstart … until about 3 p.m., when all that energy quickly fades. But with hours and hours before bedtime (for both myself and my daughter), I need something to help me focus. That often leads to another cup of coffee. Or three. And I know I’m not alone in re-caffeinating during the afternoon.

The problem with that scenario? Caffeine later in the day stimulates your nervous system and can prevent your body from relaxing on its own when you go to fall asleep. When you factor in that caffeine stays active in your bloodstream for 4-6 hours, that’s a recipe for disaster at bedtime. A study done by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine even found that consuming caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime reduced a person’s total sleep time by a full hour. Yikes.

So what’s a tired parent to do when you hit that afternoon slump? Some people swear by herbal tea or going for a walk. I’ve found that drink a giant glass of water combined with a protein-filled snack (like a cheese stick or almonds) puts a little more pep in my step. I’m also a huge fan of kombucha, which has a small amount of caffeine, but more importantly, gives you a dose of B vitamins, which are essential for energy production.

Use blue light blocking glasses

If you’re an Instagram user, you may have noticed one of the latest trends influencers are hawking: blue light blocking glasses. The non-prescription frames claim to prevent exposure from blue light wave producing electronic devices like computers, tablets and cell phones. Blue light is said to cause sleep disruption by disturbing our Circadian rhythms, especially for those of us that, um, have a bedtime iPhone addiction (speaking from experience, perhaps).

Evidence is mixed on how well these glasses actually block the waves, but many say wearing them has helped their eyes feel less strained throughout the day, which definitely sounds like a plus. I haven’t tried the glasses yet, but since I spend a good amount of time in front screens every day, I’m considering buying a pair. And since Amazon sells a large variety of cute and affordable blue light blocking specs, you may want to give them a spin as well.

Upgrade your mattress

Last fall, after years of waking up with stiff necks and sore backs, my husband and I made the decision to finally spring for a new mattress. Let me just say, I had no idea how badly I was sleeping until I spent a night actually feeling comfortable. The National Sleep Foundation says mattresses only last about ten years, and most of us have purchased kid’s beds more recently than we’ve upgraded our own mattress. Obviously, a new mattress set is not in the budget for everyone (financing helped us!), but it’s worth every penny if you feel like your sleep is suffering.

There are other small upgrades that can help make your bedroom a comfier and more restful place. New pillows, softer sheets, and some lavender oil in a diffuser can all go a far way in helping you score that shut-eye you so desperately need.

Give CBD a try

CBD (aka the non-hallucinogenic part of the cannabis plant) seems to be everywhere these days; with shops popping up all over the city that sell CBD-infused gummy bears, lotions and even coffee. According to Harvard Medical School, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest Cannabidiol (the scientific term for CBD) can be effective for treating insomnia. Many studies prove the plant’s ability to help people fall asleep and stay asleep overnight. I started taking CBD oil a few months ago as a way of treating anxiety. Immediately, I noticed I was sleeping deeper and not waking at all throughout the night, plus my anxiety has improved.

Although CBD does seem to benefit many, others end up having bad reactions, including nausea and irritability. I did notice that I would feel groggy if I took the oil in the morning as opposed to the afternoon, but taking a dose before bed was an easy fix for that issue. All in all, CBD may be worth trying if you’re hesitant about taking OTC sleep aids. Always make sure to consult your doctor before starting any new supplements.

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