The kids are out cold and your spouse is snoring away next to you. You look at the clock and watch the minutes tick by as you calculate just how little sleep you’re about to get. Each day you’re left yawning your way through yet another exhausting game of how little sleep can I function on? If this is you, you’re not alone! According to a report by the Institute of Medicine published in 2006, it is estimated that around 50-70 million adults in the U.S. suffer from wakefulness or sleep disorders.
While you may wish to consult your doctor regarding medications that may assist with significant sleep disorders, we have five tips to help you naturally get better sleep now.
I know these probably seem like common-sense tips, but honestly, I'm definitely guilty of not upholding tip 1, 2 and 5 on occasion. Our little ADHDers (or big ADHDers) can require all the energy we have day in and day out, so it's really important we're as rested as possible. Especially if you have a little one that also struggles with sleep, practicing healthy, natural sleep behavior can have a great trickle-down effect sometimes!
Tip 1: Choose a Set Bedtime and Wake Up Time
Having a regular sleeping schedule may help you avoid irregular sleep patterns and assist you in achieving better sleep. I know it can be tough, especially if your little ADHDers have trouble sleeping and you feel like you just have to get in that child-free time at night. But honestly, making yourself remain as rested as possible will improve your day far more than watching one more episode of Downton Abbey (okay, maybe it's a close call, but choose sleep!).
Tip 2: Don’t Eat Large Amounts Before Bed
Large meals right before bed can cause indigestion and upset stomachs. It’s best to eat earlier in the evening or have a light, non-greasy, non-spicy snack near bedtime if necessary. We have always been early dinner eaters, but I will be the first to admit that the Hubs and I tend to snack together after the kids are in bed. I know a lot of adults who feel like I do, literally finding food more enjoyable once the kids are down. If you have to snack, make it light and avoid super heavy foods. I like Greek yogurt with maple syrup strawberries, personally!
Tip 3: Avoid Alcohol and Coffee Before Bed
It’s best to avoid coffee and alcohol before bed as both can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. We're not big drinkers and I can't drink caffeine in general, but the Hubs has a habit of enjoying caffeinated coffee or tea at night. Try naturally decaf tea like chamomile if you like something hot before bed.
Tip 4: Avoid Nicotine
Not only is nicotine a stimulant, but dependency on nicotine can cause restless or broken sleep due to cravings.
Our household is 100% smoke-free and while we certainly discourage anyone from smoking and hope everyone acknowledges the risks smoking can have on yourself and your little ADHDers, I know some people struggle with quitting. Speak to your doctor and/or therapist to come up with a plan to assist you in quitting if you feel you can't do it alone. It's worth it!
Tipe 5: Don’t Watch TV To Fall Asleep
While it may be tempting to watch TV while you wait to fall asleep, try to avoid it! It will be harder for your body to settle if it’s engaged in watching your favorite shows and re-runs. I've also recently read about the negative effects the light emitted by TVs and electronics can have on the chemistry of your body. While I can't comment as to how accurate those articles are, I can tell you that I'm guilty of watching TV at bed time and it does not help you fall asleep. I always find myself watching "just one more" Sex and the City rerun and before I know it it's 2 am. Resist!
That’s it! Five little changes and you could be on your way to better, more consistent sleep. And we all know, a more rested mommy/daddy = a more effective mommy/daddy when it comes to parenting our little ADHDers.