Healthy sleep patterns and habits are crucial components of a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately for those dealing with a cancer diagnosis, getting healthy and consistent sleep doesn’t always come easy, and can even continue into survivorship. In fact, sleep problems such as insomnia affect 70 percent of cancer patients as well as 68 percent of cancer survivors.
Cancer patients experience a variety of physical symptoms as well as psychological symptoms. Chronic pain, which affects 75 percent of cancer patients, is persistent pain that lasts longer than three months. It can be brought on by tumors pressing against nerves and organs or can be caused by nerve changes from treatment or surgery. This pain can be super uncomfortable and can interrupt a normal sleep schedule. There’s also a multitude of symptoms that can be brought on by cancer treatment, causing patients to fall into a cycle of inconsistent and uncomfortable sleep.
In addition to the physical symptoms, many cancer patients and survivors experience mental health issues, such as anxiety, depression and stress which can keep them up at night. According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 15 to 25 percent of cancer patients experience depression. It’s normal for cancer patients to experience intrusive thoughts and feelings like fear of dying, anxiety around money or life plans and even self-esteem issues. All of these changes both emotionally and physically can really take a toll on one’s mental health. When it comes to sleep, it can be difficult to shut these negative thoughts off, leading to an increase in the development of insomnia.
Aside from cancer patients developing sleep problems, there have also been studies exploring how lack of sleep can lead to cancer development. Those with existing medical conditions, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are actually 15 percent more likely to develop cancer than those without. OSA occurs when the muscles in your throat relax when you sleep, causing a temporary pause in your breathing.
Studies have shown that those with jobs that involve shift work are also more susceptible to developing cancer because of the disruption of the body’s normal sleep-wake schedule. Our bodies have a biological clock that controls how we function when we’re awake and when we’re asleep. If this is disrupted, it can cause irregular sleeping schedules. One study found that night shift workers had an elevated risk of certain cancers because of the disruption of their body’s natural 24-hour rhythm. Ultimately this disruption can cause changes to cancer-related genes and increase your risk.
Healthy sleep hygiene is something we should all strive to have. This involves the sleep habits and patterns that contribute to an overall healthy and most importantly consistent sleep. Whether a cancer patient, survivor or anyone looking to improve their sleep hygiene, the following sleep tips in the visual below can help you develop healthy sleep habits that will minimize your risk of developing sleep problems and cancer.
It seems that more and more of us in modern life are struggling to get one of the most instinctual requirements for health: enough quality sleep. As adults, we need between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. We used to manage this, as mother nature set us up with built-in mechanisms to help us fall asleep with the rhythm of the sunrises and sunsets. Over the years, the amount of sleep we are getting has been declining, yet nothing has changed in us physiologically. Mother nature doesn’t suddenly require us to get less sleep, so what’s going on? What’s happened in our recent history to make us so bad at sleeping?
Stress, Screens, and Schedules
We used to sleep routinely with the rise and fall of the sun. The term ‘midnight’ literally refers to the middle of the night, except nowadays it’s more like the beginning of the night for many of us. Thanks to electricity, we don’t have to fall asleep and wake up with the cycle of the sun anymore. We can sleep and wake up whenever we want to, or whenever our schedule allows us to. Many of us have stressful jobs and stressful home lives to contend with. Add the stress on top of our ability to choose when we sleep, along with more and more screen time and we have a recipe for less and less quality sleep.
Screens and Sleep
When we look at the decline in the overall amount that we sleep, and compare that to the increase in screen time over the years, we start to see a correlation. Screens are by no means the sole reason for our decline in sleep time, they do however play an important part in the deterioration of our sleep hygiene.
We mentioned that we used to wake and sleep with the cycle of the sun. This is because our body produces and releases a hormone designed to get us sleepy: melatonin!
Melatonin is released by the pineal gland when it is time to sleep. Our body knows it’s time to sleep thanks to darkness. When the sun sets, and we don’t have any artificial lights in the way, our body releases melatonin and prepares us for rest. When the sun rises, the pineal gland stops releasing melatonin so that we can wake up.
It makes a lot of sense that our bodies would have this built-in mechanism for sleeping at night. As animals, we are adapted to be active during the day. Our vision is improved during the daytime, which used to be much more important for our survival, as we could hunt and gather in the day and rest at night in the dark. So the term ‘midnight’ used to mean the middle of the night! The sun would set at around 8pm and would rise at around 4am, and this was around when we would fall asleep and wake up. But then, we created electricity, and we were able to choose when we experience light and darkness. This introduction of light meant that we were influencing our body’s production and release of melatonin without realizing it. Essentially, our modern world is the reason we’ve become so bad at sleeping.
The Harm Caused by Blue Light
Artificial light stops the production of melatonin, just like natural sunlight, and just like the light emitted from your phone screen, tablet screen, and computers. Even the Kindle which is designed as an alternative to books emits a small amount of blue light (better than screens, but will still have an impact on your melatonin release).
The blue light emitted from our screens essentially tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime, so we don’t produce melatonin, so we don’t get sleepy, and so we end up laying in bed scrolling endlessly through social media on our phones waiting to feel tired enough to fall asleep: it’s not going to happen! Being addicted to our screens can make us bad at sleeping.
We need at least a couple of hours away from screens and bright light for our body to produce enough melatonin to get sleepy. And melatonin doesn’t just help us fall asleep. Research is showing that melatonin could have a role to play in the quality of our sleep too, helping us stay asleep in different sleep stages.
If you want to test this out for yourself,
try letting the sunset tonight without turning any lights on in your living space. You’ll probably notice yourself becoming tired the darker it becomes. A good way of encouraging the production of melatonin is to keep the lights dim in the evenings. Even turning off some of the lights in your home to minimize the light in the evenings can help in the production of melatonin.
Stress and Sleep
Why can’t we sleep when we’re stressed? Because we’re in fight, flight, freeze mode and we need the body to be in rest and digest mode. We experience stress as a survival trait. We need to feel stress in order to be motivated to change our situation to be safer. If we didn’t feel stress, we would blissfully wave at a bear stampeding towards us instead of appropriately, running away, preparing to fight, or freezing out of pure shock.
The body needs to feel a healthy balance of stress and calm so that it knows how to survive in potentially dangerous situations, and so that the body frequently rests and digests. When our sympathetic response is active (fight, flight, freeze), our body stops any jobs that are non-essential, like digesting and resting. When we’re undergoing stress, the body has one object: KEEP ME ALIVE. Save whatever nutrients I currently have by closing off my cells, not letting anything new in but also not letting any precious nutrients out. Little does the body know that it’s going a bit overboard in its stress response… we’re not stressed because of survival challenges, we’re stressed because my boss criticized my work project.
We need to activate our parasympathetic response (rest and digest) multiple times per day to make sure the body stays good at doing the things it needs to do during rest to thrive, like digesting our food and recovering.
It’s, unfortunately for many, not good enough to live with stress and then ‘destress’ on the weekends or on holiday. The body needs to rest and digest multiple times every day. If we don’t leave room for our parasympathetic response, we end up with chronic stress and poor mental health, and it becomes that much more difficult for the body to be good at resting and digesting.
The trouble in the modern day is that we experience stress in a very different way than we used to. Our body can’t differentiate stress from arguing with a loved one vs stress from being chased by a bear. We need to actively tell our body ‘Hey, it’s cool, I’m fine, just an argument with a loved one, we got this.’ Luckily, the body has some pretty nifty built-in mechanisms for encouraging the parasympathetic or sympathetic response.
Practice Deep Breathing
What happens to our breath when we’re stressed? What happens to our breath when we’re relaxed? When we’re stressed, our breath is short, rapid, and shallow. When we’re relaxed, our breath is long, slow, and deep.
Not only does our breath inform us as to how we’re feeling, but we can also use our breath to influence how our nervous system is responding to a situation.
If we have time to intentionally breathe deeply, then the body knows we’re in a safe situation and aren’t being chased by a bear. The action of breathing deeply sends the message to the fear center of the brain that we are safe, and in turn, the parasympathetic response happens.
You can practice deep breathing anywhere at any time. Simply take a deep breath in through the nose, and a long slow breath out through the mouth. You can breathe in and out through the nose if you prefer! Keep the body relaxed as you breathe slow, deep breaths. Doing this multiple times a day will give you the parasympathetic response multiple times a day, essentially training the body to get really good at activating this response and staying there.
Schedule and Sleep
In the modern-day, we all have schedules to contend with, and a lot of the time our schedule directly conflicts with our body’s natural circadian rhythm. So our schedules have a lot to do with why we’re bad at sleeping. The circadian rhythm describes our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. If you have ever worked a shift job, you’ll know the struggle of sleeping and waking at different times every day and often at times that don’t feel natural.
Some of us create our own sleep schedule, staying up late or waking up crazy early, regardless of our body’s natural circadian rhythm. It is much easier for the body to wake and sleep at the same time every day. The body gets into its own routine of when to release certain hormones and start certain functions. By waking and falling asleep at the same time every day, we’re essentially helping the body stick with its natural rhythm. However, not everyone has the luxury to be able to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
Whatever your schedule is, if it’s a sporadic one, a great goal to aim for is getting between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, even if it’s at different times every day.
The Things to Remember about Sleeping in 2021
The way that society currently functions in a lot of places in the world seems to actively discourage a healthy relationship with sleep. We’re stressed and on our screens a lot these days, especially since the pandemic, with more people working from home and more people fearful of their job security. We set expectations for ourselves that make us bad at sleeping and lead to unhealthy sleep schedules and habits.
The fact of the matter is, in order to thrive, whether that’s at work, at home, as a parent, as a friend, as an individual, we need to get enough quality sleep. For many of us, that might mean examining our current lifestyle and questioning what we value, and what we want to start with in terms of improvements to our sleep routine.
We can’t do it all at once. Once you identify the areas of your sleep that you’d like to improve, pick one small item from your list to focus on until it turns into an automatic habit that you don’t need to think about anymore, then you can focus on the next item on the list. It’s not a habit until it’s automatic.
Gabie Lazareff is a certified health and yoga coach and experienced wellness author. Writing for Somnus Therapy, the online sleep therapy platform, Gabie is educating readers about the importance of sleep not just to survive, but to thrive.
Your baby is a beautiful new addition to your life. At night, your baby needs lots of sleep though, and so do you. There is often a great deal of disagreement between parents when it comes to the best ways for babies to sleep. Inexperienced parents are often desperate for guidance in this area, and experienced parents have a variety of different tips to offer. Here are just a few baby and newborn sleeping tips that may help you to develop a better sleep routine if you are currently struggling as a sleep-deprived new parent.
Develop a Regular Nighttime Sleep Routine
A regular sleep routine is important for people of all ages looking to improve their sleep habits. Try to put your baby to bed at the same time each evening or at least around the same time each evening. You can also regularly give your baby a bath before bedtime, or develop other regular routines that will help your child to realize that it is bedtime and wind down for the night. One of the best baby and newborn sleeping tips is to start getting them into a good routine from the moment you bring baby home.
Use Relaxing Music to Help Your Baby Sleep
Relaxing sounds and relaxing music are easy to find on music and video streaming apps. White noise machines and radios also offer options for a gentle sound that may help a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep. Research has been done about classical music and baby development and experts on the topic generally suggest that it is a good idea to expose a newborn to classical music, especially at bedtime.
Co-sleep Safely with Your Baby
There are many different options for new parents to select from when it comes to choosing a newborn baby bed. A crib is a classic option, but some parents find that co-sleeping helps their baby to sleep through the night better. There are beds for newborn babies that can allow both of you to sleep safely and securely without any worries if this is an option that interests you.
Breastfeed at Nighttime
A hungry baby will not be able to sleep through the night well in most cases. If you breastfeed your child, it is a good idea to do so soon before putting your newborn to bed. A full tummy will prevent him or her from waking up as quickly as to scream for another nighttime breastfeeding. The physical closeness while breastfeeding will also relax your baby. Even if you do not regularly or exclusively breastfeed throughout the day, you may want to try it at night to help with your baby’s sleep.
Read to Your Baby or Tell Stories
It is never too early to read to your baby. Babies and young children learn by example and early reading habits are best encouraged by reading to your baby at a young age. The sound of your voice is comfortable, familiar, and relaxing for your baby as well. Even if they do not yet understand the content of books and stories, these things can help them to fall asleep at night feeling positive and relaxed. Be sure to read in a gentle, calm, and even tone of voice so that you do not startle or wake a baby that is starting to doze off.
Avoid Exposing Your Baby to Digital Screen Time and other Stimuli Before Bed
It is generally considered a bad idea to put your newborn baby in front of the TV in order to get them to fall asleep. Too much screen time does not benefit the neurological or other development of a newborn baby. It is a better idea to use other tactics like calming music, gentle massage, and story time.
Joyce Kimber is an entrepreneurial writer. She always finds new ways to improve her work performance and productivity. Connect with her on Twitter via @joyce_kimber91.
This past year has upended many aspects of our day-to-day life, from our work to our routines of seeing friends and family on a regular basis. The uncertainty and stress, along with constantly changing news, has caused the anxiety of this past year to manifest itself in different ways for many of us. From increased online shopping to late-night doom-scrolling, many people have been unprepared to live in an extended period of trauma.
One of the ways that this uncertainty has manifested itself is anxiety-induced insomnia, especially for those that have never had sleeping issues before. This phenomenon, also known as “Coronasomnia,” is the persistence of sleep issues (such as trouble staying asleep or falling asleep) due to pandemic-related stressors. This includes everything that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered, including:
The safety of loved ones
Your own health and safety
Loss of sleep, especially due to anxiety-related factors, can further disrupt areas of your life. Fatigue and disrupted sleep schedules can impact workplace productivity, and can lead to increased feelings of depression.
Though there’s no cure for anxiety or anxiety-related insomnia, there are a number of things you can do to try and get a handle on your sleeping habits to hopefully alleviate your anxiety symptoms at bedtime. Committing to healthy bedtime habits can help you get into a routine for bedtime, that will hopefully keep anxiety at bay and let your body know it’s time for sleep.
Here are a few ways you can prioritize sleep to keep coronasomnia away when you should be catching some zzz’s.
1. Read, Don’t Tweet
This is for the people that pop onto Twitter or Instagram “just for five minutes” then end up scrolling away for three hours. We all know that blue light has harmful effects on our eyes and can make it hard for us to sleep, so fight the temptation entirely and grab a book instead of your phone. Reading is a great way to relax at the end of the day and lets your brain gradually shut down and get ready for bed.
If you need another hobby or something cute to remind you to read, try a coloring page bookmark to relax you at the end of a long day and give you something to look forward to every time you open your book.
2. Move Your Body
It may sound cliché, but it’s true — moving your body and/or stretching before bed can help tucker you out for the day, as well as help you get better sleep altogether. If you’re the type that gets hyper or more energized after working out in the evening, try shifting it to working out earlier in the day, or just by doing a few stretches before getting in bed for the night.
3. Stay Away from Alcohol and Caffeine
Especially in times of uncertainty, it can be easy to turn to a little liquid courage to ease our minds and take some of the weight off our shoulders, leading to a bad case of coronasomnia. Avoiding caffeine is a no-brainer, as this gives you energy (which is likely the last thing you want if you’ve been having some sleep issues). While alcohol can make you sleepy, it’s also been linked to poor sleep quality and duration.
If you want something besides water before bed, try a calming cup of Sleepytime herbal tea with no caffeine. To spice it up, you can add some printable “positivi-tea” labels to the end of your tea bag so you’re greeted with a happy reminder every time you take a sip.
4. Write It Out
Stress and anxiety can eat you alive, and keeping it all bottled up is one of the worst things you can do. If you find your mind racing and heart pounding when you should be counting sheep, you may want to think about journaling each night before bed. Studies have shown that journaling can be good for mental health, as you’re no longer keeping everything inside that’s causing you stress or anxiety.
Try looking up some journaling prompts if you don’t know where to start, and if you want to try it out before buying a journal and committing try some printable bedtime journal sheets. These can be printed as many times as you need, so grab a pen and start writing — you may be surprised how much better you feel when you can get all your thoughts on paper instead of leaving them trapped inside your head.
Sleep issues are no joke, especially during such a turbulent time as the one we’re in. Through prioritizing your mental health and doing what you can to get into a sleep routine, you’re doing the best thing for you to keep sleep issues or coronasomnia at bay.
Emily Borst is a digital content creator who creates compelling stories worth sharing. Her background in writing has helped her cover unique topics, including sharing her passion for health and wellness. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and eating her way through Austin, Texas.
If you were not getting enough sleep before having kids, it likely hasn’t become easier since. No matter what stage or situation you are in, you worry about your children. When you have kids, your priorities change, and you may find yourself ruminating more often before you fall asleep each night. Poor sleep can interfere with your way of life. Take stock of the signs you may need more sleep that can be noticed by everyone around you.
Your appearance may suffer if you’re not getting enough sleep. While general signs of a lack of self-care could be a sign of depression or another health condition, you may need to get more sleep at night to improve the look of your eyes and skin. The most common physical signs of sleep deprivation are:
Dark undereye circles
Red, puffy eyes
Being Dependent on Your Alarm Clock
No one enjoys being startled awake—especially mothers of newborns. Most people need at least seven hours each night, and if you’re a friend of the snooze button, you may require more. Try to find your sweet spot by going to bed half an hour earlier each night until you wake up feeling refreshed. Some chores can wait until tomorrow.
Of course, no one likes lying awake at night either. It is normal to take 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep, but if something—such as pain or the temperature of the room—is causing you to stay awake, you may need a new mattress. Your mattress can greatly affect your sleep, and the same style doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.
Getting Sick Often
Good sleep keeps your immune system in check. If you experience periods of high stress followed by dips in your general health—such as a cold or triggers to a preexisting health condition—it could be because you’re not getting enough sleep. One of the simplest things you can do to improve your immune system and avoid illness is to get good sleep.
Drinking Excess Caffeine
A cup of joe is a good way to begin the day. If you’re a postpartum mother who loves Starbucks or your local coffee shop, you’ve likely been looking forward to the day when you can get back to your favorite drinks. During the months of your pregnancy, your tolerance to caffeine may have decreased, so drinking the same amount as you did before you were pregnant may be adding to what is keeping you up at night.
Pro Tip: Doctors consider it safe for breastfeeding moms to drink two to three cups of coffee each day, but that still might be too much caffeine if you want to get a good night’s rest.
Losing Your Focus
The last thing any mother wants is to make a mistake involving their baby. During sleep, the brain processes information it picked up throughout the day. If the brain doesn’t get enough time for this process, it won’t reset and prepare you for the next day. Therefore, you might be more likely to hold on to things if you’re not getting enough sleep.
Other focus-related complications that can stem from sleep deprivation include:
Trouble completing tasks
Difficulty making decisions
Making poor decisions
Poor mental and physical health are not necessarily signs of sleep deprivation. If you have switched your mattress and given yourself adequate time to sleep at night, you could have a more serious reason for your sleep troubles. If you are noticing these five signs you may need more sleep, talk to your doctor to avoid unnecessary sickness and brain fog.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
Being a parent comes with countless responsibilities. Juggling everything from work to relationships while focusing on your family’s needs takes a lot of energy, and it can leave you feeling drained at the end of the day. If you suffer from allergies, your symptoms might make finding the energy to complete everyday tasks even more challenging. It’s called allergy fatigue, and you’re not alone. A lot of allergy sufferers experience low energy levels and “brain fog” when regularly exposed to allergens.
Allergy fatigue is a very real problem. Other allergy symptoms like itchiness, congestion and breathing problems can make it impossible to get a good night’s rest, and the histamine your body produces when exposed to allergens can make you even more tired.
The first step to preventing allergy fatigue is finding the source of your symptoms. That can be pretty hard when you have a million things making you tired every day, so it can help to pay close attention to your other allergy symptoms and what triggers them. To do this, try starting an allergy log. Simply jot down your symptoms and the things you are exposed to throughout the day, and look for links between the two.
If you’re having trouble finding the source of your symptoms on your own, you can take an at-home allergy test to help you get to the bottom of it. Visiting an allergist who specializes in diagnosing and treating allergies is also a good option, especially if your allergies are severe. You might discover that you’re allergic to something you never even thought of.
Limit Exposure to Allergens
Once you find out which allergens are causing your fatigue, the next step is to find ways to limit exposure. For outdoor allergens, like pollen and mold, you can track daily allergen levels and see when they’re at their highest. You can find this information online or on most weather apps. Try to limit your time outdoors as much as possible on high exposure days, and move family activities indoors whenever you can during allergy season.
Limiting your exposure to indoor allergens can be a little trickier, but it is possible to allergy-proof your home. For allergens like pet dander and dust mites, dusting furniture, vacuuming carpets and washing bedding regularly can all help keep allergen levels to a minimum.
Consider Allergy Medication
Allergy medication can help relieve symptoms for both indoor and outdoor allergens, and there are plenty of affordable, over-the-counter options. However, you’ll want to make sure to choose one that doesn’t make you drowsy. Grab one that says non-drowsy on the label, or ask your doctor to help you find a medication that works best for you.
How to Improve Your Sleep
Trying to sleep with allergies can be a nightmare. Sneezing, coughing, itchiness and the general discomfort caused by allergies can prevent you from getting the quality sleep you need to feel energized during the day. Luckily, there are plenty of simple steps you can take to stop your symptoms from keeping you up at night.
Elevate Your Head
Propping your head up with an extra pillow or two can help relieve congestion and prevent mucus from building up in your sinuses while you sleep. This is also a good tip to pass on to your family during cold and flu season.
Air purifiers improve air quality by filtering out airborne allergens. Adding one to your bedroom can be a great way to improve your sleep and keep you from coughing and sneezing throughout the night.
Tips For Staying Alert
As a busy parent, allergy fatigue probably isn’t the only thing making you feel drained. Plenty of other things can make you tired throughout the day, and it’s important to address them whenever you can. These quick tips can help to feel more energized as you tackle your day.
Dehydration can make you feel tired and sluggish. To prevent this, try to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day. Keeping a water bottle with you can help you remember. If water isn’t really your thing, try infusing it with herbs or fruit to add some natural sweetness. Staying hydrated will help you to feel energized, and it could even boost your mood!
Get Some Exercise
Whether you are stuck at a desk all day or spend the day bustling around the house, squeezing in a few minutes of exercise can help to boost your energy levels. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Going for a quick walk around the block or doing some stretches at your desk can release endorphins that boost your energy levels.
Take Short Breaks
Taking breaks throughout the day can increase focus and reduce fatigue. If you find yourself wearing down while grinding away at a task, take a few minutes to make yourself a cup of tea or listen to a relaxing podcast. A break also provides a good opportunity to check in with your body. If you’re feeling drained, try eating a healthy snack or taking a quick nap. Focusing on your family’s needs is important, but don’t forget that yours are important too!
Michaela Wong is a content creator and graduate of San Diego State University. She writes in a variety of industries ranging from health and wellness to interior design.
Between your daily responsibilities and your responsibilities as a mother, it can be tough keeping up with it all. Typically, one of the first things mothers sacrifice is their sleep so that they can make enough time to fulfill every need. We understand this lifestyle takes a toll, so let us help you by showing you how to improve your sleep schedule so you can feel as rested and energized as possible.
Schedule a Bedtime and Wake Up Time
Much like how your baby or child has a bedtime, you should also set one for yourself. Keeping a strict bedtime will condition your body to be ready for sleep at that exact time, which will make it easier for you to settle into bed and fall asleep. Similarly, you’ll want to set an alarm and pick an exact wake up time for you to get up on a consistent basis.
On mornings where you have extra time, it may seem like a good idea to try and get some extra sleep. Although tempting, you want to stick to your schedule. Oversleeping will make you feel groggy and just as tired as when you went to bed, whereas having a set wake time will regulate your body to feel energized once you’re up and ready to go.
Fast food may be tempting for its convenience with your busy schedule, but processed junk food is high in sugars and carbohydrates. This will keep your body abuzz when trying to sleep and you’ll likely spend more time twisting and turning throughout the night. On the other hand, you don’t want to go to bed hungry, otherwise your body will be far more concerned with eating than sleeping.
Learn How To Get Back To Sleep
One of the greatest challenges for some mothers is having to wake up in the middle of the night to tend to their babies and then trying to get back to sleep. If you have trouble going back to sleep, the best way to improve your sleep schedule is by making it about relaxation instead of sleeping. If you focus only on sleeping, you’ll become impatient and fixate on what’s making you uncomfortable. Instead, do a quiet activity for a little while until your body begins to feel worn out once more. Your bed will feel incredible once you get back into it. You can also look into natural sleep aids to help if you’re still struggling with sleeping.
Christina Duron is a writer living in the Chicagoland area. Her passion for writing and mental health help create thought provoking and engaging pieces and hopes to use them to empower mothers and women to embrace the beauty of motherhood.
Sleep training can have a bad reputation among the parenting community.
This secret shame in sleep training comes from it’s association with the cry it out method. The name alone suggests something very traumatic for both moms and babies alike. But it’s important to note that the cry it out method is not nearly the only form of sleep training. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways that parents sleep train their babies.
So I’d like to make it loud and clear for all moms everywhere that there is absolutely no shame in sleep training your baby!
Defining Sleep Training
There is no shame in sleep training because all parents do it, whether they realize it or not. To “sleep train” is to help a baby establish healthy sleep habits. But there are so many different ways that can be done, it all depends on the baby and the parent. Some parents choose to do this using more rigid guidelines, while others prefer to let their babies take the lead. Either way, it’s still considered sleep training.
Baby-Led Sleep Training
Babies are born with the natural instinct to sleep, eat and eliminate. Their wakeful periods gradually increase with age and as they grow, their little personalities begin to show. These personalities will give you a hint as to what kind of sleep they prefer.
My introverted first child was a great sleeper and still is, 10 years later. He likes quiet, darkness and solitude. He never slept well in a shared bedroom and was easily distracted by lights, sounds and toys in his room.
My easy-going third child can sleep anywhere without problem, as long as she has her special bunny.
Baby led sleep training methods mean following your baby’s sleep cues and letting them show you how and when they prefer to sleep. This can require a lot of patience and may mean more night-time waking, but many parents are up for that challenge. You can also expect a baby-led routine to change several times as they grow and develop different needs.
Parent-Led Sleep Training
Sleep training methods that have more structure and routine are considered parent-led methods. Many are based on adjusting baby’s instinctual sleep habits in order to make it work for a parent’s lifestyle. And these are the ones that moms often feel shamed for, or feel the need to shame others.
(At least, it shouldn’t be if done correctly.) While I am not a sleep training expert, I do firmly believe that leaving a baby to cry alone by themselves does not teach them how to sleep or self-soothe. Crying is a baby’s way of communicating and we should never take that for granted. But sometimes, a baby cries because they feel overstimulated or overtired and need some space, so holding or rocking them is not always the solution.
Parent-led sleep training methods can require a lot of consistency and a certain level of self-discipline. Creating a strict bedtime routine for a baby means committing to doing it for years to come, but some parents are willing to make that sacrifice in exchange for a better night’s sleep.
Stick with One or The Other
A mistake most parents make is beginning with a baby led sleep approach and then trying to switch to parent led sleep training when the child is older. Of course there will be tears and baby will put up a fight, because change can be difficult for everyone. So if you plan on letting baby take the lead right from the start, then expect to follow through on that. Or you can start incorporating a more structured bedtime routine as a gradual process.
If you do plan on sleep training your baby, then try to start from the moment you bring your baby home. Obviously, your newborn isn’t going to start sleeping straight through the night, but remember, that’s not what sleep training is about. There are several things you can do to ensure they develop a good routine and sleeping habits. This way, you don’t need to worry about making drastic changes to their routine as they grow.
There is No Shame in Needing Help
If your baby isn’t sleeping no matter what you’ve tried, that doesn’t make you a failure. When it comes to sleep training, there is a lot of advice out there but there is no manual or one tried and true method.
Thankfully, there are professional baby sleep training consultants available. I have personally used and would recommend the Baby Sleep Site(read about my personal experience with them here). Trained professionals take into account your family life, other children’s schedules and your own health and well being to create a routine that works for you. They’ve dealt with the various sleep habits of thousands of different babies and have the experience to help you. Sleep training can be stressful, so it’s good to have some support and guidance along the way.
Quit the Shaming!
Motherhood is not black and white and when it comes to sleep training, there is a lot of grey area. Ultimately, what works for one family, or one baby, will not work for everyone. So let’s quit with the mom shaming about sleep training. Moms who sleep train are not being cruel or selfish. And moms who follow their baby’s lead are not spoiling them. All moms are doing what they feel is best for their baby, themselves and their families and that’s the only thing that truly matters.
Daylight savings time can be a mother’s worst nightmare.
Daylight savings time begins on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. This all sounds well and good for most people, after all, it’s just a one hour difference. But if you have little ones on a strict bedtime schedule, or if your mental health suffers from changes in your routine or sleep pattern, it can be a difficult time of the year to manage.
Here are a few tips on how to protect your sleep during daylight savings time.
Yes, it’s just an hour. For many people, it doesn’t even make a difference in their lives. But for young children, it can mean some trouble adjusting to the change for a few days, if not longer. This can disrupt mom’s sleep patterns as well, which is bad news if she suffers from postpartum depression or anxiety. Sleep deprivation can be a big trigger for those suffering from a mental health disorder.
If you’re worried about your sleep being disrupted, then try to prepare yourself ahead of time. Don’t over-schedule yourself the weekend that daylight savings time changes and try to get in some extra rest. If you’re concerned about your child’s sleeping habits, then consider consulting with a baby sleep training expert for advice.
Go to Bed Early
Technically the time changes at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but it’s a common practice to change all the clocks back before going to bed on Saturday night. Whether you’re losing or gaining an hour, consider going to bed early that Saturday night to ensure that you get enough sleep no matter what time you wake up.
Take the Weekend Off
Thankfully, daylight savings time changes on a weekend so you don’t need to worry about school or work schedules. If you can, try to limit any scheduled or time-constricted activities. It’s a great time to plan a cozy hygge weekend or a family movie marathon where you’re sure to lose track of time anyway. And who knows, maybe planning a relaxing weekend when the time changes could become a favorite family tradition!
Make the Change Gradually
There is no rule that says the hour has to be changed all at once. One way to make the daylight savings time change seem less drastic is to change the clocks in smaller increments throughout the weekend. Start by changing your clocks in 15 minute intervals on Saturday morning and evening and then again on Sunday. The smaller the change, the less your body and mind will notice it.
Change the Clocks in the Middle of the Afternoon
Another alternative to help protect your sleep is to change the clocks in the middle of the afternoon instead of at bedtime. This is a great option, especially for children, because the afternoon hours can usually slip by quickly when we’re busy having fun. This will also ensure less disruption to your child’s bedtime routine and help you sleep better as well.
Try to Embrace it
When it comes to daylight savings time, it’s best to just not make a big deal out of it. Worrying or focusing too much on it can cause a lot of disruption. It can cause anxiety for moms who need every bit of undisturbed sleep they can get. Knowing that daylight savings time is coming can also contribute to symptoms of depression, including seasonal affective disorder. Instead of worrying about it, try to be mindful of the time change. Pay close attention to the changes in nature and embrace the opportunity to adjust your routine for the winter season.
Prior to having children or dealing with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder, you probably never thought much about daylight savings time other than being on time for something important. With most smartphones automatically updating the time, you may even completely forget about it until you wake up Sunday morning confused about what time it REALLY is. Often, we don’t experience the repercussions of the time change until after the fact. So protect your sleep this season and be ready for it!
Do you wonder why your kids can’t seem to get to sleep by a decent time at night? Or, do your kids complain that their stomach hurts in the middle of the night. Well, more than likely these are signs that your child is responding to the food they ate for dinner or as a pre-bedtime snack. While some snacks may be healthy for your child and aid in promoting sleep, other foods can cause wakefulness, stomach pain, and acid reflux.
So, which foods should your child not eat before going to bed? Here are 5 foods your child should avoid.
Cereal may seem like the perfect quick snack for your child if they complain of being hungry right before bed. After all, it is quick and takes almost no preparation. However, sugary cereals (you know them) digest quickly resulting in a spike in sugar. Sugar spikes affect kids much differently than they do adults and this could lead to an entire night of sleep disruption or light sleep as your child may experience increased blood sugar levels causing them to do an all-nighter.
Much like sugary cereal soda can create a spike in sugar levels for your child resulting in what adults need an energy drink to accomplish. In addition to sugar stimulation the carbonation of a soda can cause stomach pain and discomfort. Soda is recommended as one the foods to avoid at all times, but especially before bed.
Citrus fruits like oranges, pineapple, and grapefruit are highly acidic and can result in acid reflux. So, while you may think giving your child fruit for a late-night snack is beneficial remember that not all fruits are created equal. If you do decide to give your child fruit before bedtime, consider a banana or apple with a little peanut butter. These are not only filling but are also nutritious and likely won’t upset your child’s stomach.
Surprised? Celery seems like it might be a healthy choice for your kids before bedtime – think ants on a log. However, celery is a natural diuretic which may cause your child to need a late-night potty break when they should be sleeping. Diuretics are foods that push water through the digestive system and celery can cause a child’s system to respond the same way coffee would in yours.
Pizza is one of the most beloved dinners in America. Yet, be careful how close to bedtime you feed your kids a glorious cheese pizza. While it might be tasty, melted cheese and popular toppings like pepperoni are high in fat. Add acidic pizza sauce to this and your child may wake you up midway through the night complaining of stomach problems.
Few parents are keen on giving their kids food just before bedtime and it’s preferable if you can avoid it. However, your children are persistent and when they are hungry, they will let you know. So, if you find yourself searching for a quick snack, the best foods to avoid are those that are acidic, sugary and high in fats. Rather, options such as peanut butter on a piece of bread or apple, yogurt, or whole grain cereals such as oatmeal are good choices.
Krista is married and the mom to two adorable kids. She is a freelance writer that regularly covers sleep health, lifestyle, and beauty content. Krista is always looking for ways to better herself and has a passion for helping families create balance and happiness in their lives.