Sleep training for yo mommas

Sleep training, huh? You must have children under 2, right? Uh no, not in this story. Ok, then you must have one of those restless tweens with horror-mones raging? Nope, not that either.

This sleep training is for me – THE MOMMY!

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7 tips to help you conquer insomnia and achieve your sleep goals

And how does one sleep train yo mommas? Enter: the Behavioral Therapist.

Yep, I’m crazy. Or on my way to crazy-town because:

“Sleep deprivation has been found to have a strong connection with practically every mental health disorder we know of, especially depression and anxiety.”

–Arianna Huffington, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life, one night at a time

Here’s a little back story.

I have ALWAYS been an early riser.

I go to bed at 10, I wake up at 6. I go to bed at midnight, I wake up at 5:30. I go to bed at 4 in the morning and I MAY get three and a half hours of shut-eye before I awaken to a list of potential to-dos that my over-active brain apparently thinks “MUST BE DONE NOW!” (I’m talking things like laundry, putting the chicken in the crock-pot and vacuuming the goldfish from between the couch cushions.)

Let’s go back in time a few years. In college, I starved on Saturday mornings because my teeny-tiny campus didn’t serve breakfast until 10:30am. But really, for me, it was lunch because I was up and ready for the day by 8:00 – just me and the guy who was mowing the lawn.

Even as a child I would awaken and NO ONE in the house would be up for what seemed like HOURS! I wasn’t allowed to watch TV either. (It was the 70s…there were good cartoons on back then.) This was a problem on Christmas Day – I had to wait til 8 to wake anyone up. 8AM?! Seriously?! Do you remember what 8AM feels like to a 3-year-old? That’s like NOON!

Then motherhood happened.

I was getting roughly 6 to 7 hours of sleep a night prior to babies. Then baby boy 1 came along. He liked to snack – A LOT. During the day, during the night. ALL THE TIME!

Once we finally got through nursing and sleep trained him, I was sleeping for real again. Like, at least, 6 hours a night. Boy 1, by the way, is like me and wakes up too early. *SIGH* (Sorry, kid.)

And then baby boy 2 showed up. He LOVES sleep. He would even reach from the rocking chair for his crib and vault himself into it. (No joke! This happened!) He is still an awesome sleeper, just like his daddy. (Lucky Dog.)

Right after boy 2 came on the scene, hubby joined the Army. Which means I suddenly became an Army wife. This is only worth noting because my husband has Army hours. Those movies where they have soldiers getting up at 4 in the morning? Yea, that’s accurate.

So here I am waking when my husband gets up, and I can’t go back to sleep because surely the dog should get her nails clipped now and then I could start vacuuming the car. And maybe start on a papier-mâché giraffe?

By age 40 I discovered I was getting an average of 5 to 5 1/2 hours of sleep. I would actually start announcing to my boys any time I got less than 6 hours of sleep so they could gauge how nice I’d be that day. I became G-R-U-M-P-Y. (Say hello to Mommy Dearest.)

When I finally asked my doctor if this was something I’d just have to live with, he said, “Melatonin and behavioral health.” Yep, that’s right: crazy.

Fortunately, we caught the crazy before it went too far.

These days, I’m feeling much less crazy. But there are some things I’ve had to learn to live with:

— I am an early riser and most of the world is not.

— I will never get to watch Saturday Night Live or the Late Show LIVE (hooray for youtube!)

— I must go to bed at 9:30 or 10 so I can get up at (drum roll please) 5:00 A.M. EVERY DAY. Yes, even on the weekends. (So not fair.)

— Melatonin is out. The few times I tried it, it caused anxiety and sleeplessness. Apparently, that’s a common side effect. And, believe me, I don’t need anything else making me crazy.

Now let me share the truths I’ve learned about sleep behavior that can make a difference in your life.

Sleep training tips for yo mommas

1. Your bed is for TWO things.
There are only two reasons to be in bed: to sleep and to “visit” with that person you share the bed with.

2. But what about reading in bed?
Of course, reading is ok, right? NOPE! NOT in bed! It makes your body expect something other than sleep and can stimulate the brain.

3. Limit screen time.
Most people know you shouldn’t have screen time within an hour of bed (a rule I am currently breaking to write this because this is on my mind now and I don’t want to think about it at 3am).

4. Cut yourself a little sleep slack.
If you’re in bed for more than 10-15 minutes trying to sleep and you’re still awake, get up and do something else til you start to feel tired. Then try again. (Sounds like a great time to clip some dog nails.)

5. Maintain a constant wake time.
The time you wake up is more important than the time you go to bed. Wake up at the SAME TIME every day – NO MATTER WHAT!

6. Caffeine isn’t always your friend.
Anything caffeinated too close to bedtime is definitely a no-no.

Now I don’t drink coffee, but I do enjoy caffeinated tea in the morning. And, it figures in my life, I can’t even sneak a cup later in the day. Caffeine affects people lots of different ways – for me, a post-morning sip means I can go to sleep, but then I get to wake up way too stinkin’ early the next day. So, yep, caffeine is strictly a morning drink in my world. (Note to self: add this to the list above of things I gotta learn to live with.)

7. Review your to-dos before hitting the hay.
I look at my to-do list before I go up to bed and think about it then. That way it’s not on my mind when I wake up. If I designate when I’m going to vacuum those goldfish up, I probably won’t think about them at some ungodly hour of the morning. (Fingers crossed.)

If you’re like me, you also need a plan for the early morning on Saturday. I’m still working on that one. I live in the Pacific Northwest, where the Fall and Winter mean it’s super dark until late in the morning. And that means early morning walks aren’t very safe. Plus, hubby doesn’t want to eat breakfast at 5:30am. I’m guessing Saturday morning is the perfect time to make that papier-mâché giraffe.

For more sleep training tips for yo mommas, check out Arianna Huffington’s book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming your life, one night at a time.

And share your own sleep tips below or on Facebook at MothersRest.

About the guest blogger:
Ande, my dear friend for over 25 years, is a proud Army wife and lover of all things Jesus. She’s deeply committed to her husband and two active boys who keep her on her toes. Her favorite hobbies are baking, cooking, eating ice cream, and working out (so she can eat the ice cream!) She hopes one day to be a skilled sleeper, clocking 8 or more hours a night.

the author and her handsome hiking buddies

Photo credit, featured image: A. L. @overdriv3 from Unsplash.com

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