Nothing is as peaceful or sweet as a tiny baby sleeping in his or her crib. Do you remember the last time you had a refreshingly, uninterrupted night’s sleep and you could say, “I slept like a baby”? When babies are deeply asleep, nothing disturbs them. Is it possible for you to sleep that soundly again?
As sleep expert James Maas, Ph.D., author of Sleep for Success and Power Sleep says, “When it comes to getting rest, adults should do things more like infants do. Adults are always trying to work both ends of the clock, staying up late, getting up early. They treat sleep as a luxury and it is not. It’s a necessity and babies already know that.”
What are some sleeping tips we should learn from babies?
1. Make sleep a priority.
When babies are tired, they go to sleep. As adults, we try to cram as much into a day, often sacrificing sleep to other less important pursuits, like watching that late night TV show and getting up ultra early the next morning to catch up on something we neglected to do. If you want to sleep like a baby, the smart thing is to prioritize what’s important to you and rearrange your activities around the 7 to 9 hours you need for a full night’s sleep
2. Stick to your sleep schedule.
If you don’t want a cranky baby, you honor the baby’s routine. By keeping the same bedtime and wake up time each day, even on the weekends, you’ll have more energy and will bounce back more quickly from the occasional late or sleepless night.
3. Initiate a wind-down ritual before bedtime.
Most parents prepare their babies for bed by giving them a bath, reading a story or singing a lullaby. If you want to sleep like a baby, you can benefit from a similar wind-down ritual. Schedule 30 to 60 minutes every evening to allow your body to transition from the day’s stress to a night of inactivity. Turn off the electronics and TV and keep them out of the bedroom. Meditate. Do some light reading. Listen to music. Take a warm bath. Write in your gratitude journal. Clear your mind by jotting down tomorrow’s to-do list, putting it on the table and mentally walking away from it.
4. Don’t obsess about sleep. When a baby can’t sleep, mom rocks her to sleep while humming a restful tune. If you’re lying awake, use an APP to play soothing music and schedule it to go off in 45 minutes. Or it’s fine to turn the light on and read a few pages in your book or use the time for meditation until you fall asleep.
5. Don’t hit the snooze button. Babies sleep until they wake up naturally. Rather than artificially forcing yourself to awaken, go to sleep earlier, sleep uninterruptedly until you absolutely must get up, then get out of bed when the alarm goes off. In time, if you’re getting enough sleep, you won’t even need the alarm clock.
6. Exercise throughout the day
When babies are awake, they’re constantly moving, strengthening their muscles for the day they can run around the house. Too many of us have sedentary jobs. Then we go home mentally exhausted only to sit around some more. Because exercising right before bedtime isn’t the best practice, doing some sort of physical activity throughout the day will make you tired enough to sleep. As little as three, 10 minutes bursts of exercise throughout the day – like walking, climbing stairs, and stretching – can help you sleep better at night.
7. Watch what you consume
A sugary drink before bedtime can cause your baby to be agitated and hyperactive. What we feed on physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually affect how well we sleep. Even the quality of our relationships with family, friends, and business associates will dictate how well you sleep. So take some time this week to mindfully identify how your daily decisions affect your quality of sleep.
Sleep is so important because it’s the only way for our bodies to energize, reboot and regenerate. Babies have it right. Sadly, when we grow up we get away from the healthiest routine. However, we can always improve by making little incremental changes. You can’t expect to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed by drastically altering your sleep/wake up times. Shift things by 15 minutes every week. Go to sleep 15 minutes earlier and get out of bed 15 minutes earlier. Over the course of a few weeks you’ll ease into a new schedule.
Sleep is just one indicator of your wellness. There are seven we all need to be mindful of. If you haven’t taken the 7-Point Body Wellness Assessment yet, maybe it’s time. Click here to download your free copy.