Mumsomnia: 4 reasons why you’re struggling to sleep at night
To be a Mum is to live your life at breakneck speed. It’s juggling multiple responsibilities and keeping multiple plates spinning at the same time. Talk about a mixed performance art metaphor! It means that you almost always have something or the other weighing heavily on your mind, yet you can never slow down for a minute to process it. There’s always something that needs your time, care and attention around every corner. Whether it’s a screaming toddler throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, an unpaid bill, an anxious client, or the domestic chores that keep mounting no matter how much of your sparse free time you dedicate to them.
Given the extreme velocity at which the average Mum lives her life, one would expect us to fall into bed every day and be asleep before our heads hit the pillow. Unfortunately, however, in many cases we can find ourselves lying wide awake at night, struggling to disengage our minds and drift off into a restful, nourishing sleep. And this is a problem that needs to be rectified as soon as possible.
While you’re asleep, your body carries out much of the essential maintenance and routine repairs that are essential to our overall good health. Without a healthy 7-8 hours’ sleep every night, we can find it difficult to concentrate, make ourselves more prone to illness and injury and find it much harder to cope both cognitively and emotionally.
For most of us, 21st century living inevitably means a lot of interaction with digital devices. They’re not only an integral part of how we work, they’re also inevitably a part of our personal and social lives. Especially under the current circumstances. Since the start of lockdown, adults have amassed over 40 hours a week of screentime. And this could be a major contributing factor to why you’re struggling to nod off.
The advice we give our little ones on limiting their screen time? That’s good advice for everyone, regardless of age. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions, computer monitors and other digital devices all emit blue light. And light at this frequency can inhibit the brain’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. As a result, our circadian rhythms may be thrown off kilter and we can find ourselves unable to sleep late at night. While we may not be able to do anything about the necessity of these devices at work, we can certainly take active steps to limit their use at home.
Indigestion / acid reflux
As much as we try to keep the whole family well fed and nourished, the lifestyle of a busy Mum is rarely conducive to appetite. Many of us find ourselves picking or grazing throughout the day, eating little and often, eating in bites rather than sitting down to a main meal. And while this can be beneficial in keeping your metabolism on an even keel, it can cause us to eat too little through the day, meaning that we have our biggest meal in the night. But eating too much just before bed can result in digestive troubles like acid reflux / heartburn which can either keep you awake at night or wake you up in the middle of the night. As well as taking omeprazole for heartburn, busy Mums should avoid backloading their nourishment during the day. Be sure to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch, and have a handy supply of healthy snacks to keep your blood sugar stable and prevent cravings.
Too much caffeine
Ah, sweet, sweet coffee! It’s arguably the most welcome sight at the start of a busy morning (sorry kids) and the fuel that propels us through our impossibly busy days. However, if you’re chugging coffee after coffee to keep yourself alert and awake, you may not only find that you struggle to nod off at night, but that you actually start to feel drowsy throughout the day. This is because caffeine blocks the receptors to the neurotransmitter adenosine and makes you feel sleepy and sluggish after the initial caffeine high wears off. So, what do you do? You help yourself to another coffee of course! As you can imagine, this makes for a restless night’s sleep. What’s more, caffeine is in more than just coffee. You’ll find it in green tea, soft drinks and even chocolate bars.
Finally, there’s nothing worse than feeling hot and sweaty through the night and thrashing against covers that seem to stick to you and tie themselves in knots around you. Try taking a hot bath about an hour before you turn in for the night. Not only will this help you to relax, it will lower your core temperature to prevent overheating through the night.