11 Tips for Busy Moms With Insomnia

11 Tips for Busy Moms With Insomnia

You’re a mom with a million things to do and you can’t sleep. Now what?

By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Even before I gave birth to my first child who is now a toddler, I suffered from occasional insomnia. And more and more, I have a hard time getting back to sleep once I wake up. I can blame my frequent middle-of-the-night insomnia partially on being a mom of an infant and toddler, but I frequently get anxious about things -- my kids’ schedules, unpaid bills, assignments I’m working on, occasional marital strife -- and have a hard time shutting down completely.

A couple of months ago, I decided I couldn’t beat insomnia. So instead, I used it as an opportunity to get things done. Now, when I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, I simply get up and go downstairs. Sometimes I fold laundry, other times I work on articles that are due in the near future. After an hour or so, if I’m still not tired (and most of the time, I’m not), I’ll “start” my day with yoga stretches or take a brisk walk up and down the street as the sun rises. I get a lot done! But after the second cup of coffee wears off around 10 or 11 a.m., I can’t deny that I feel a little zombified.

My decision to work through sleepless nights raises a few big questions for insomniac moms: Is getting up to get ahead, albeit with the assistance of black coffee, the best way to ease stress? I decided to pose my questions to a couple of sleep experts, so moms like me could have some insight.

According to Dr. Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona, what I’m doing isn’t ideal for anyone, no matter how busy you are. “The worst thing you can do when you have insomnia is to be doing work-related tasks or housework in the middle of the night,” says Rosenberg. By deciding to get up for the day and down a cup of joe at 2 a.m., you’re throwing off your normal circadian sleep-wake rhythms. “The idea is to get out of bed and do something quiet and peaceful that does not involve bright light or work. You return to the bedroom when you are sleepy and not until then. This is referred to as ‘stimulus control,’ a behavioral technique for insomnia.”

Kerrin Edmonds , certified infant and child sleep consultant, says the fact that so many moms have insomnia and want to be productive is understandable. “Moms, especially Type A personalities, like to get things done around the house -- everything from working at home, writing bills, to just taking a shower,” says Edmonds. “Is it healthy? No.”

More from P&G everyday: 25 Simple Ways Tired Moms Can Energize in 5 Minutes or Less

So what should you do if you’re a busy mom and have frequent bouts of insomnia?

Edmonds recommends the following -- in addition to nixing the afternoon coffee habit:

1. Create and establish a consistent nighttime routine.

2. Exercise regularly but not close to bedtime.

3. Avoid large meals close to bedtime.

4. Avoid long naps during the day.

5. Make your sleep environment conducive to sleep: blackout curtains, white noise machine, comfortable temperature, etc.


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6. Aim to get a little bit of afternoon sun everyday -- this helps set your body clock.

7. Don’t bring work to bed.

8. Try to unwind at the end of the day: Take a warm bath, get a massage, and meditate.

9. Turn off all electronic devices an hour before bedtime.

10. Try drinking two glasses of tart cherry juice, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Cherry juice is a natural source of the sleep-wake cycle hormone melatonin and amino acid tryptophan. (Note: This will take about a week to start working, she says).

11. Try not to worry about not sleeping.

How do you deal with insomnia when it strikes?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Image ©iStock.com/becon

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