Getting *back* to sleep
Sometimes, it's your own sleep that can make the difference between multiple night wakes
being manageable and unmanageable. If you are able to drop off quickly after settling (or
even, the absolute dream, feed IN YOUR SLEEP), then fragmented nights may be perfectly
doable for you.
If you are insomnia- or anxiety-prone, and it takes you an hour to get back to sleep after
every wake, fragmented nights might feel insurmountable.
Lying in bed worrying about when the next wake will come is a really, really common
Here are a few tips to help you get back to sleep more quickly after dealing with a night
The less your body is disturbed by a night waking, the less you will wake up. Can you
arrange your nights so you don't need to put your feet on the floor?
Breastfeeding at night produces much higher levels of prolactin, a hormone that induces sleepiness in both baby and feeding parent.
Listening to radio or audio books
If your mind is busy, distracting it with speech can be really helpful. Use wireless headphones if you are bed sharing.
Yoga Nidra and guided relaxation
Depending on how anxious you are, conscious relaxation can be useful. I'll pop a link to one
of my own guided relaxations in my stories. Personally I find these less useful if I am really
anxious - when I notice that I’m too anxious for conscious relaxation to help, that's usually a sign that something else needs addressing in the daytime.
Mindfulness and self compassion
Becoming aware of the thoughts that are buzzing around late at night, and developing the
capacity to have a little perspective to know that not every thought is true, can be a
game-changer. Often it is our own thoughts that cause the cascade of physical reactions that make up anxiety. When we can notice our thoughts, pause, breathe and speak to them
gently, we can have a little space to find alternatives.
Don't look at the clock
This doesn’t work for everyone (I was never able to let go!) but for many people, getting rid
of the clock altogether really helps. Keeping track of wakes can add to the frustration you
feel around them, which keeps you awake longer.
Maybe the last thing you want to do after a rubbish night, but exercise really does improve
our sleep. Your body needs to be physically tired to sleep well (not just bone-deep sleep
deprivation exhausted). What are the ways that you can move your body that bring you joy
and wear you out? Can you run? Dance? Do a mum & baby workout class? Walk? Whatever
it is, DO IT!
Therapy & medication
If insomnia or anxiety are chronic experiences for you, do you need to seek out wider
support for your mental health? This might be therapy, a support group, or medication. If you think you might need help, please ask for it. You deserve to feel well again.