Worrying about your kids while you can’t sleep is just the worst. When they are babies, every sound you hear makes you jump into action, “Is she ok? Is she breathing? Did she run away? Did someone kidnap her?”
Even if our kids are no longer babies, we can agree there’s so much to keep track of as a solo mom—kids' activities, running errands, cleaning the house, college tours, car maintenance, and keeping up with family or friends.
You would think with so much to do exhaustion would lull you into sleep. But as we are well aware, nothing is further from the truth. Counting sheep doesn't work. Besides, our minds are too busy wondering over what ifs or what could have been.
And that's only if a shortage of money is not an issue. For decades I struggled with sleep deprivation. Coupled with extremely long hours at a busy job, I realized I needed help when I reviewed simple mistakes and wondered what I was thinking. The problem when you are sleep deprived, you’re not thinking straight. Couple that with worrying about your children. And you have a disaster waiting to happen.
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“The way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep”. Arianna Huffington.
Lucky for me I met Naturopath, Dr. Sarah Cimperman. She recommended, among other things, that I get a white noise machine. I don’t remember much of what Dr. Cimperman said to me. But I would have paid her ten times her going rate for this one recommendation. A white noise machine can help you sleep better by blocking out unwanted noise that may keep you awake at night. Depending on the sound your machine makes, it can be a healthy and calming way to lull your tired brain to sleep.
My bedroom sat on the corner of a single family home. Which sat at the corner of two busy intersections in Brooklyn, New York. Anyone who lives in New York City knows that the city truly does not sleep. From loud music to horns honking, you have to be dead on your feet to get much sleep. At least that’s how it was for me. And don’t get me started on fire trucks and the week's long West Indian Day Parade. Aye!
I’m one of those people that can thrive on 4 or 5 hours of sleep each night. But it has to be continuous. A dog barking or a fire truck blaring its way through my neighborhood at night means I could never get even 4 hours continuous sleep. Worse, even if I had the chance I can't sleep during the day.
Couple this with a 2 hour commute on the NYC subway most of the time standing. A 10-12 hour workday, often inhaling lunch at my desk was the perfect storm of health challenges waiting to happen. And a lot of these times I was working on an Accounting degree.
Our bodies can handle a lot of things. But it needs to rest and rejuvenate to keep going. Studies show that a lack of sleep contributes to increased accidents, lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, and memory challenges. And that’s just the beginning.
We can all agree sleep is important. But getting enough is a big challenge. I worried too much. But I’ve always struggled with insomnia. Of course being a single mom living and working in a city like New York only makes the ability to sleep more challenging.
But I was pleasantly surprised at how effective the machine was. The sound wasn't anything definite like rainfall or sea breeze. The sound is made by its built in fan. But it effectively blocked out the myriad of noises present throughout the night as I try to sleep.
Dr Cimperman recommended the Marpac Dohm white noise machine, similar to this one. Which is an older model of the one above. Nowadays, machines are digital and look more fancy. But the effect should be the same.
Whatever the reason for your lack of sleep, try to find ways to set the pace for a good night’s sleep. In addition to a white noise machine, you may consider upgrading your sleep hygiene by doing one or more of the following. Hopefully, by incorporating additional sleep hacks you will enhance your chance of getting a good night’s sleep:
- Getting room darkening shades. They are fairly inexpensive and can be placed over existing horizontal blinds.
- Use a sleep bulb in your bedside lamp
- Turn off blue light at least 2 hours before bedtime
- Make your bed soft, clean, and comfortable
- Wear an eye cover
- Take a bath with Epsom salt and/or lavender oil
- Drink camomile tea prior to bedtime
- Pray before you go to bed. Pray when you can’t sleep
- Try visualization like Jon Gabriel’s Evening Visualization
- Try to go to bed the same time every night if you can
The below video not only covers some of my tips but also expand on them.
There are many reasons why you may not be able to sleep at night. Worrying may be one but there are other factors that could cause insomnia. It’s a good idea to check with your healthcare provider so you can figure out what’s going on together. A healthcare professional can help you pinpoint areas in your life that you may need to focus on.
For instance, they may want to check to see if you have sleep apnea or other health related hindrances to proper sleep. In addition to getting the white noise machine, I also started to see a therapist. Because I had too many things going around in my head when I was supposed to be asleep.
Get help so you can sleep better. Your body needs it. Your kids need you to be alert and healthy. And you need to be strong mentally and physically to be your best self.
I hope these suggestions will help you manage your sleep. We all need to get rest. Solo moms especially need to get good sleep to avoid health issues and to be able to focus on their multiple and competing responsibilities.
Getting good sleep is good self care.