My daughter was a dream sleeper from the time we took her home from the hospital. She'd wake once a night between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. for a bottle, and promptly passed back out. However, just because she back to sleep right away, didn't mean I did. Most nights I'd be awake for another hour, at least, Googling things on my phone, trying to wind back down after being awakened by her cries, and cursing my husband for snoring through it all. Clearly, I learned the hard way that there are things every mom needs to know to actually enjoy sleep. Again. Hopefully. Well, maybe.
When my daughter was a brand spankin' new baby, I had the hardest time falling asleep at any hour, day or night, and even long after she had already peacefully drifted off into baby dream land. My mind would always start racing once I heard her cry in the middle of the night, and I'd spend hours trying to get back to sleep long after that cry ceased and she was properly fed, changed, and back to feeling comfortable. Thank goodness she only ever really woke once a night, right? Otherwise, I truly have no idea how I would have survived the newborn stage.
Now that she's older, I still occasionally have to remind myself of a few key things in order to get back to sleep after being woken by a tiny human. If she's teething or has a cold, she sometimes struggles to sleep through the night and, as a result, needs to be settled back into bed (and I often wish I could just stick a bottle in her mouth and calm her instantly, even though that's no longer an option). Once all is well and she's under the covers, snoozing away, I start to run through the following list so, hopefully, I can start enjoying some sleep, too.
The Phone Is Not Your Friend
Do not dive into your phone thinking you'll lull yourself back to sleep. I tried it for months, and all I did was waste more time, feel more wired, and wake up the next morning feeling absolutely exhausted.
You Might Need To Sleep Train Yourself
Just like we had to sleep train our baby, I've had to sleep train myself. No, this doesn't mean using the cry it out method on yourself, although crying until you fall asleep might actually work. Instead, make yourself a routine for going back to sleep and stick with it.
Since college I've slept with ear plugs, but I added an eye mask when I was having trouble getting back to sleep. I don't need it for darkness now, but I always use it if I'm trying to fall back asleep like my own personal sleep cue.
Phantom Cries May As Well Be Real
You know those cries you hear in your head that you could swear are real but totally aren't? Yeah, those are the worst.
Those little ghost cries make my heart race and always drove me nuts, because I would always hear them directly after I put my daughter back down to sleep. I'd lay there in bed swearing I could hear her crying and holding my breath hoping she'd go back to sleep. Nearly all of the time, she wasn't actually making a sound. So annoying.
Your Partner Will Start Snoring As Soon As You Try To Go To Sleep
My husband doesn't snore much, but he's pretty consistent when it comes to the moment I'm trying to get back to sleep. The minute I climb back into bed, he starts snoring and tossing and turning, making it absolutely impossible to fall back asleep. One day, we'll have a bedroom big enough for a king size bed. One day, dear friends.
Now Is Not The Time To Google
Do not Google random and irrational worries you've collected over the day when you're trying to fall back asleep. I did that for weeks when my daughter was small and it did not lead anywhere positive. I usually ended up down a rabbit hole of totally improbable theories that raced through my head until morning. Not good.
Get A Notepad
Instead of staying on your phone and Googling the night away, get a note pad and write down those wacky worries you have. Once you have your list, let them go until morning. There's plenty of time to Google when you're not sleep deprived and anxious in the middle of the night!
Earplugs Are A Security Blanket
At least for me, ear plugs drowned out the little whimpers I otherwise would have heard and woken up to. Our daughter has slept in her own room since her second day in our home, but our apartment is so small she's actually only about 4 feet from my head and separated by a very thin wall. Without ear plugs, I can hear when she comes over. If you've got something that's like your security blanket, make sure you keep it with you and use it when you try to go back to sleep.
Finding The Right Room Temperature Is Key
Those first few months my daughter was home with us, I was always hot. I was too nervous to turn up the air conditioning in case she got too cold, so I was always sweating in the middle of the night. Finally, when she was old enough and I was exhausted enough, I put another layer on her and cranked up the air conditioning. Instantly I was sleeping better, without tossing and turning and sweating through the sheets. Success.