Even after sleep training, my 9-month-old daughter wakes up most days at 4 a.m. I can usually coax her back to sleep after breastfeeding her, but sometimes our day begins right then, at the a*s-crack of dawn. I can’t just let her cry it out, like we did with our son, because she shares a room with her brother. That means I go to bed early, pray she’ll sleep until 6, and try to make the most of every second that I do get to sleep.
You’ve been there, right?
There are also those nights when my preschooler wets the bed and I’m up changing his sheets roughly an hour before his sister wakes up. Or, sometimes it’s a problem at work that steals my sleep. Whatever the source of my sleeplessness (usually my kids), I’m not exactly well-rested. Ever.
You know what that’s like, right?
So, I reached out to Carol Ash, MD, director of sleep medicine at Meridian Health in New Jersey, for sleep tips that can help all of us moms — regardless of what our little boogers do to us during the night. Here goes…
1. Use a night light with a motion sensor. Exposure to light in the middle of the night disrupts your body’s natural production of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. A night light will help “keep melatonin disruption to a minimum,” says Dr. Ash.
2. Drink a glass of tart cherry juice before you go to bed. Tart cherries are a natural source of melatonin, explains Dr. Ash. For best results, drink the juice every night for a week.
3. Avoid sleeping pills. For starters, they can interfere with your ability to get up quickly — and you know the one time you give in and pop a pill your toddler will wake up with a stomach bug, so it’s just not worth it. Plus, sleeping pills don’t exactly promote the best sleep, and they’re definitely not a long-term solution.
4. Talk to your doctor about taking a melatonin supplement. It’s a natural way to rest better. (These supplements aren’t recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, however.)
5. Don’t lay in bed, wide awake. If you toss and turn for more than 15 minutes, get up and go do something that isn’t stressful, like organizing your pantry shelves or reading a (non-work-related) book.