Moms' 6 Biggest Sleep Mistakes
And how to fix them so you can get the rest you need
You are how you sleep. It's the one-third of your life that most affects the other two.
Of course, when your kids are young and you need lots of energy to get through the day, getting a good night's rest can be challenging. If you're not sleeping well, you're not alone:
* Two-thirds of women report symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week.
* The average woman over age 30 sleeps only six hours and 41 minutes a night.
No doubt, moms of babies or toddlers are lucky to get that much! As a mom, some of the very things you do in the name of good parenting can compromise your sleep. Some common mistakes moms make, and how to fix them so you can sleep like a baby -- or, even better, like a well-rested adult.
Mistake: Trying to get everything done after the kids go to bed
"As soon as my daughters are tucked in at eight, I clean, iron, pay the bills, and so on," says Mercedes Gray, a mom of three in Ontario, California. Instead of winding down before her own bedtime, she speeds up. By 11 p.m., Gray says, "I'm so keyed up that it takes me a while to fall asleep."
A better approach: Don't use all of your free time to multitask. Just as your child needs a bed-time routine that settles her down for the night, so do you. "Thirty to sixty minutes before your bedtime, begin to do things that relax you," says Clete Kushida, M.D., director of the Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research. "Take a bath, read quietly, watch a favorite show, whatever works. If possible, minimize your exposure to bright light during this time. Follow a similar pattern every night and your body gets conditioned to expect that it's time for bed, so you'll fall asleep more easily."
If you have a snack, try small portions of low-fat carbs, such as toast with a little jam or cereal with milk. Want a drink? Chamomile tea and honey are both natural sedatives. Just don't eat a big meal within three hours of going to bed. Digesting a large amount of food has been shown to make you less sleepy.
Laura Flynn McCarthy, a mom of two, is a regular contributor to Parenting.