Not Enough Time or Not Enough Sleep?
Parents often feel depleted at the end of the day. Sometimes we intend to complete more tasks on our check list but just can’t seem to find the energy (or time) to do them. If you think your list is reasonable for a day’s work, it may not be a time issue. It could be an issue with not getting enough sleep.
Your energy level throughout the day has a big impact on how you manage your time (and get things completed). If you don’t feel rested within 30 minutes of waking up, or if you are often waking up to an alarm instead of on your own, you may not be getting enough quality sleep. Sleep quality is a big indicator of how your energy level is during the day. Not only are you tired, but your mood is also affected. You may feel more irritable, withdrawn and ‘down’. Lack of sleep slows down your thinking, impairs your concentration and productivity. So, it makes sense if you get less accomplished in a day when you are tired.
So, how can you improve your sleep quality? Here are some options you can try:
Get to bed earlier or get up later. Take time to assess if there are any evening or early morning tasks that can be postponed or shared by someone else. By sharing chores or completing them another time of the day, you can make more time for yourself to get to bed earlier or wake up later.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and a lot of noise/activity before bedtime. Caffeine (a stimulant) can affect sleep quality by preventing REM sleep, which your body needs. Also, alcohol can affect your sleep by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night when it wears off. A lot of noise, stimulation, activity or evening exercise can keep you from falling asleep. Give yourself time to ‘wind down’ before bedtime, allowing your body and mind to gradually let go of the day’s stimulation and activity.
Be consistent with times you go to bed and wake up. Even on your days off, it is important to have a regular bed time and a regular wake-up time. Being consistent with these times helps you stay asleep during the night.
Move. Physical activity has shown to improve quality of sleep. In a 2013 article, Dr. Michael J. Breus (a clinical psychologist and board certified sleep specialist) stated: “A recent National Sleep Foundation poll found that regular exercisers were significantly more likely to report sleeping well on most nights than people who were not physically active.” Regular doses of moderate exercise can help improve your sleep. Avoid exercise within two to three hours of bedtime as this can stimulate you and create difficulty falling asleep.
Avoid late night eating/drinking. Late night eating can promote indigestion, heart burn and discomfort at night, keeping you awake. Also, drinking close to bedtime can cause you to wake up to go to the bathroom.
Remember, any change you decide to make is going to be a process. Give yourself time to explore what works best for you and your schedule, and start making small, gradual steps along the way.