awake ate night at computer

Some moms call it self-care, others call it “me time”, but did you know that it can be doing more harm than good?

How can that be possible? Moms need personal time. Of course, moms deserve time for self-care but is that time you’re spending helping you? What you’re doing during that personal time matters more than you think.

Do you sacrifice sleep to that get me-time?

This can look like late-night binge-watching TV or surfing social media. You might even want to enjoy a latte because it’s the only time you get to yourself without kids crawling on you. But… you forgot to make it decaf. Oops!

I get it, I’ve been there…On the couch at late hours vegetating in front of the TV because it was the only time I could get to myself. Without realizing it though, the time would pass, and the clock would read 1am.

That didn’t leave me with much time to sleep. We need quality sleep to function, period.

Whether you like it or not, taking personal time at the expense of sleep has consequences.

Not only will you not get a healthy amount of sleep, but your day will be far more difficult as a result.

Our job as a mom is hard enough already, we need all the rest we can get. Why add more difficulty to an already difficult job?

Most people need and manage well on 6-7 hours of sleep per night. So, if you’re watching a couple of episodes on Netflix and it cuts into your sleep time, you are probably getting more like 4 hours. Ouch.

Can you honestly say that you function well on only 4 hours of sleep?

Coffee only goes so far mamas. You need sleep.

Let’s get into the 5 top sleep stealers and the simple ways you can get your me-time without sacrificing quality sleep.

Digital Distractions

woman on smartphone

Your smart phone is attached at the hip, but you think you got it under control. Do you? You might be surprised at how much time you spend on just your phone. Statista

Research found that in 2018, adults in the United States spent about 3 hours and 23 minutes per day on their smartphone. Almost 3.5 hours per day. That’s nearly 25 hours per week of time spent on your smartphone. Scary, isn’t it?

The blue light emitted from the screen doesn’t help either.

As the Canadian Association of Optometrists put it,

“Certain wavelengths of blue light can help boost mood, alertness, memory, and cognitive function. 

Blue light is also important in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.

Exposure to too much blue light at night through screens and indoor lighting may lead to poor sleep quality, difficulty falling asleep, and daytime fatigue. “

The fix:

Take advantage of blocking and tracking apps for your smart phone.

Many are free like Offtime and AppDetox. Tracking your screen time will give you a real view of how much you actually consume.

If you can’t pull yourself away from social media, you can block it and set an allotted time for catching up on social media. Take comfort in knowing that you will be more productive with your time.

Other tips to prevent digital distraction…

Only check emails and messages only at certain times of the day. Giving yourself one or two times per day is a good habit that won’t make you feel tethered to your phone.

Avoid bright screens 2-3 hours before bed because of the disruption it has on deep sleep. Most phones and desktops have warm color settings.

Set your devices to change to ‘nightime’ mode by 7pm so that if you are online you won’t get the stimulation of the blue light.

Turn off your phone at night.  If you use it for your alarm to wake up in the morning make sure that notifications are turned off, or just you buy an old school alarm clock

Wine-O-Clock, Netflix and Yoga Pants

Sounds divine doesn’t it? What mom doesn’t like to enjoy a tasty beverage and watching flix in ultimate comfort?

It’s all good until you’ve stayed up too late and you got a measly 4 hours (or less) of sleep. Now you’re walking around like a zombie, so irritable everyone is walking on eggshells around you and the five cups of coffee you drank is not working.

But wait, isn’t wine supposed to be good for your health? How bad can antioxidants in a glass be?

Well, wine isn’t like pomegranate juice. It will help you relax and fall asleep faster, but you will probably wake up in the middle of the night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, alcohol disrupts our circadian rhythm. It affects the normal production of chemicals that trigger sleepiness and disturbs deep sleep.

A problem that can easily be solved with a little planning. If you want to enjoy a glass of wine, do it at dinner and not closer to your bedtime.

The fix:

Don’t get me wrong, you can still enjoy wine! But if you value quality sleep, enjoy in moderation and avoid consumption close to bedtime.  

If you can easily binge-watch five or more episodes of your favorite show, schedule a max of one hour per day on television.

Procaffination

woman drinking coffee in front of computer

How many cups do you have a day? Procaffination: the art of doing nothing until you’ve had a cup of coffee. Sounds familiar?

I’m guessing you drink lots of coffee, tea or soda to help you get through the day. I love coffee. It can give you a small boost when you need it but if you’ve going over two cups (most do) it can affect your sleep. Fine in moderation but excessive amounts are can be harmful.

Science proves that the caffeine you consume with one cup of coffee can last up to 6 hours. So, that means if you’re guzzling coffee well into the afternoon, you’ll be getting the jitters till midnight or longer.

The fix:

Set a timer or notification to stop drinking coffee at 12 pm. Reminders can be useful and effective. If you’re used to drinking a lot of coffee throughout the day, reducing your intake will be a challenge but reminders can keep you mindful.

Have a variety of decaffeinated beverages available so you don’t feel deprived. You can still enjoy the smell and taste without the added stimulation.

Other tips to prevent over caffeination…

Drink water and/ or eat a small piece of fruit. How hydrated you are can have a role in fatigue and can sometimes solve the problem by drinking water.

Fruit is also a good choice if you need a boost and are trying to cut back on caffeine.  Fruit has fiber and will digest slower giving you longer lasting energy than you would if you were to eat a cookie.

Move It!

girl running in field

Have you heard this before?  “Oh, I don’t need to exercise, I get plenty chasing the kids around”.  I hear it a lot.  

While you might be active with your kids, it probably isn’t enough. Unless you are climbing the jungle gyms, rolling, and jumping like a ninja as most kids do, you are not moving enough.

Think about it, how long can your kids play non-stop until they are tired or hungry? I’m guessing it can be anywhere from 2-5 hours. If we moved as much as our kids, we would be fit and sleeping like a log every day.

The fix:

Fitting in exercise when you’re a busy mom is tough but gone are the days you have to drive to the gym to get a workout. Thankfully, we have more home fitness options that are not boring, repetitive or long.

There are so many on demand home workouts that you can do in as little time as you want. If you’re not a fan of doing one long workout everyday at the same time, break that workout into five-minute chunks.  

Another good tip…Make it a two for one. You need to exercise, and you need your Netflix. Make it a win-win and combine both! Watch an episode while you’re on the treadmill, stretching, doing squats, or lifting weights.

See, it’s not so bad! But whatever you do, don’t stop moving!

“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama

Be mindful of how you’re spending your personal time. Those late nights are full of fun and relaxation in the moment but sacrificing quality sleep will catch up with you.

You have five tweaks to your routine that can help you get better sleep while still enjoying the much coveted me-time.

When you have the desire to plop yourself on the couch and pour a Prosecco, think about what the next day will look like after a night of crappy sleep.

The brain fog, irritability, the coffee jitters, extreme fatigue that is so bad you just want to crawl into a dark hole, is it worth it?

Wake up feeling restored and ready for your day.  Plan your day and structure your routine so that you can get proper sleep.

Rest well mamas!

Do you still struggle with getting quality sleep even though you’re well past the newborn stage? 

What is holding you back?

Know a mama in need of good sleep? Share this article with them so they can get tips on how to get some much needed rest.

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