There are a lot of contentious opinions out there about how and when to sleep train a baby, and I don’t have a lot to add to that conversation. What I’ve realized recently, though, is that after having three kids, and especially after the craziness of this year, what I really need is sleep training for myself. Sleep deprivation is linked to a whole host of unpleasant effects ranging from mental health issues to heart disease so this sleep training is not something I’m looking at as optional anymore!
While some of the sleep hygiene I need to work on is unique to adults (like my brain insisting on making to-do lists the second I get into bed or the oh so tempting blue light activities of watching Netflix or scrolling social media just before bed), most of my other road blocks are very similar to suggestions I would get if I was sleep training my baby. This got me thinking of all the ways I have been sabotaging my own rest.
One of the most basic components of making sure your baby is well rested is a regular bedtime routine and schedule. I am currently horrible at this. I don’t know a single parent who hasn’t fallen prey to the siren song of enjoying alone time once the kids are down for the night instead of hitting the hay. I am working really hard to try and keep a set bedtime and to create a bedtime routine. I’m even setting an alarm on my phone called “sleep training” for 45 minutes before I am hoping to be asleep every night. Just like my baby, if I don’t go down when I am initially feeling sleepy then I will get overtired and suddenly be unable to fall asleep. This phenomenon is how I end up reorganizing my kitchen at 2 AM. A regular bedtime is something I can choose- unlike how many times my infant might wake me up in the middle of the night!
Another key to sleep training, whether that be for a tiny human or a tired adult, is creating a good sleep environment. The white noise machine we’d used for our older kids kicked the bucket a few months before I got pregnant with baby number three, and I finally insisted that we buy a new one. This is a win not only for our baby’s sleep, but for mine as well. I am an incredibly light sleeper and the white noise should help with the times I am startled awake by something as subtle as the dishwasher switching from one mode to another or the air conditioning going on and off. I am also trying to eliminate any additional light and make sure the temperature is nice and cool.
One thing my baby grew out of before we even thought about sleep training was a swaddle. Sadly, I am also much too big for a swaddle, but I AM putting a weighted blanket on my Christmas list and I hear that gives the same snug, comforting feeling!
Are you missing out on sleep, mama? What are you doing about it? Let me know if you have any suggestions for parental sleep training!