Expert Opinion

The importance of sleep and self-care

As parents, we always have that tendency to put our little ones first, and ourselves last. Often, this means we completely neglect our self-care.

You know the scenario: you finally get your baby sleeping through the night, except your body is still so used to waking up multiple times throughout the night that you find you still aren’t getting a good night’s sleep yourself.

However, sleep is a crucial part of self-care and, therefore, should be taken seriously. So, what can we do to ensure you are now also prioritising your own sleeping patterns so that we are working with a full tank of sleep in our daily life?

Firstly, though I am not a doctor, I do recommend mums get a full medical check-up as a very first step – hormones go wild after pregnancy/breastfeeding, and we want to make sure Mums are in optimal health.

With anything medical ruled out, my tips for getting your own sleep back on track are:

Ensure you are limiting any caffeine into your daily diet, particularly in the latter part of the day… and yes Mums, that means chocolate too. Whilst on the subject of chocolate – watch your processed sugar too. Caffeine and sugar play havoc with sleep.

Start dialing down the bright lights in your house in the few hours before bed. In today’s society, we are primed to spend a lot of time on devices. But before bed, it’s important to put them away – the blue/white light exposure suppresses the production of melatonin, which is the sleepy hormone.

What can be great for sleep is some time spent in natural light. Go for a light walk after dinner, and get some fresh air, which is also a clever way to ensure we have done enough – enough to warrant being tired enough to actually sleep well.

If you are having difficulty sleeping overnight, but obviously waking tired the following morning, avoid napping during the day. You want to ensure there is adequate sleep pressure to sleep well at night, rather than during the day. This can help balance our internal body clock.

Ensure your sleep environment is optimal: not too hot or cold, linen and clothing breathable, nice and dark, and not too stimulating.

Because we are steering clear of TV and Devices, try reading before bed, or listening to meditation to relax the mind and ease into sleep. Make bedtime around the same time every night, and ensure you are starting your day around the same time each day, this helps with the regulation of your circadian rhythm as well.

If you do wake overnight, keep things as much the same as possible. If there are things on your mind, write them down in a notebook, kept next to your bed, so you aren’t stewing on it whilst trying to sleep. Try to keep things dim, not turning on lights, as light tells us we are meant to be awake.

Getting back into the swing of sleeping well yourself isn’t going to happen overnight. It will take time – just like helping your little one get more sleep.

About the author

Lisa is the founder of Cherish Your Sleep, Co-Regional Director (Australia/Pacific) of The Association of Professional Sleep Consultants, an experienced certified baby/child sleep consultant and a mother to 3 young children.
She has always loved children and has worked in the industry for over 20 years as a qualified child care worker, working primarily with children aged 0 – 3yrs.
A successful outcome is not only good for the parents and children, but also giver Lisa a sense of satisfaction and happiness – there’s nothing better than hearing from a parent who finally got their first full night sleep since having a child.
Becoming a mum and meeting and seeing other mums struggle with their babies and children’s sleep made Lisa really want to reach out and help. She doesn’t see that there is a one size fits all to helping families – sleep is almost like a Puzzle – you need all the pieces in place to achieve the full picture and those pieces are what she shares with families.
Lisa uses a holistic approach to sleep, focusing on emotional wellbeing of families and ensuring the parent child connection in not only maintained, but enhanced. She knows how easy it is to become overwhelmed and frustrated, so it’s her passion to help find solutions that will work for you, your baby and the rest of your family.