*This post is sponsored by Sealy
I know I need to be getting at least 6 or 7 hours’ of sleep every night, but let’s be honest: as a busy, working mama, making sure that I’m in bed and fast asleep by 11pm most nights is near impossible!
The 3 or 4 hours I have to myself after Beanie’s bedtime are typically when I get most of my blogging and freelance writing work done, and it’s also the only time I really have to read, watch Netflix, paint my nails… you get the picture! In the past, I’d often find myself staying up into the wee hours of the morning in the name of #selfcare – when else am I going to have that bubble bath or give myself a much-needed pedi? But I’ve recently come to the realisation that an important part of self-care is ensuring that I get enough sleep – otherwise I end up feeling tired, grumpy, and unproductive the following day, and that doesn’t serve anyone!
Promising to go to bed earlier is one thing, but I soon discovered that falling asleep was quite another. I’d often find myself lying awake for hours on end thinking about all of the things I needed to do the next morning, or reliving conversations I’d had or things that had happened throughout the day. Stress has a tendency to cause hyperarousal and often makes quietening your mind an impossible feat, so if you’re anything like me (and I think most of us are), the first step to ensuring that you get a decent night’s rest is dealing with stress. I’ve incorporated a few relaxing bedtime rituals into my night-time routine to help ward off stress and set me up for a better night’s sleep, and I thought I’d share these with you in case you’re battling with sleep, too!
Take a warm bath or shower
A soak in the tub with Beanie is the first signal to my brain that it’s time to start unwinding. I don’t allow myself to do any work after my bath (I don’t even check emails), and I like to add a couple of handfuls of Epsom salts and some lavender oil to the bath water to help calm us both.
Studies have also shown that when you step out of a warm bath or shower, your core temperature drops, which sends signals to your brain that help to induce sleep.
Start a bedtime ritual
Every evening after my bath, I make some Rooibos tea and light a candle beside my bed. I also like to spritz a linen spray onto my pillow to help add a little touch of luxury to my bedtime ritual. (I am obsessed with a Charlotte Rhys linen spray called ‘Victor’).
Clear your mind
Something that I’ve found incredibly helpful is keeping my journal and a pen next to my bed and setting aside just 5 or 10 minutes every evening to write about my day and to make a to-do list for the following morning. That helps me to get it all out of my head so I don’t run things through my mind obsessively all night long.
I’ve also downloaded the Headspace app onto my phone and I try to meditate for 5 minutes before bed every evening. If I’m in the mood, I might do a few gentle yoga stretches, but I don’t beat myself up if I skip a night. (I like doing a few gentle backbends to open the heart centre, or I do a few poses specifically for opening the hips as this is where most of our stress is stored).
Since I started going to bed at a similar time every night (and waking up at the same time every morning), I’ve found that I fall asleep much quicker and easier than before. I’ve also done away with having a TV or the laptop in the bedroom with me, and have swapped out Netflix for a good book instead. I’ve made an agreement with myself to read at least 10 pages every day – if 10 pages is all I can manage, that’s fine (although I find that I end up reading at least 5 times that most nights!)
Check your mattress
It seems simple enough, but for the longest time, I slept on an old mattress that I inherited from my parents and I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t until I bought a new mattress that I noticed just what a big impact my mattress has on my sleep patterns.
I recently read that we spend a third of our lives in bed, so it only makes sense that you invest in a quality mattress that supports your hips, back, and shoulders properly. It will not only help you to have a full night’s rest, but it may also eliminate back pain and any other aches or pains you have. Given that a mattress is a huge investment, it’s vital that you make a well-informed choice and opt for the best mattress that your budget allows for – I’ve always slept on a Sealy mattress and found that they have a wide variety of mattresses on offer, whether you have R2 000 to spend or R20 000!
I’d love to know if you have any additional tips or bedtime rituals that help you to fall asleep faster? Please do pop a comment in the comments section below – I’m always on the lookout for new tips to help me sleep better!
Psst! Have you read my top tips for a better bedtime that I wrote specifically for mamas? Go have a look, here!
A big thank you to Sealy for sponsoring this blog post. Please visit their website for more helpful sleep tips or to find the right mattress for your budget and needs.