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Bad News for New Moms: Could Interrupted Sleep Be As Bad As No Sleep At All?

Written on July 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm , by

When groggy mornings and frantic coffee runs become staples in your daily routine, followed by nights of constant wake-up calls to change diapers or give feedings, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your sleep patterns. Or just say hello to motherhood with a newborn. While we know not sleeping well negatively affects your mood (there’s a reason these signs exist) and brain’s ability to function, what’s more alarming is that a new study found that several nights of interrupted sleep might be just as harmful as not getting any.

Before you panic, moms, keep reading. We spoke with clinical psychologist Michael Breus, Ph.D., who says that although disrupted sleep definitely has an effect on you the next day, it’s not going to ruin your life in the long run.

“Some sleep is still better than no sleep, but you don’t want to keep it up on a regular basis,” he says. “If you get woken up one, two, three times a night, well, that’s actually fairly normal. If you get woken up six or eight times a night, are you going to wake up feeling refreshed? Probably not.”

So what’s a parent to do? Breus recommends alternating on-call days with your partner. Designate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to waking up when baby does, but let hubby take the reigns on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or if you wake up with the sunrise and he’s awake well past sunset, compromise that way. “I’m more of an early bird and my wife is more of a night owl, so even on the nights when it might’ve been my turn to be on call, she’ll tend to the baby so I can go to bed early.” Creating a schedule that plays on each others’ more wakeful hours will provide you both with happier mornings, so try a few options to figure out what works best for everyone.

Regardless of your parent status (non-existent or otherwise), Breus says maximizing sleep begins with daily exercise. If you find that exercise really revs your engine, make sure your workout is done at least four hours before bedtime. Otherwise, two hours prior is your cutoff. But if you’re still lacking serious mojo in the daylight, make sure sleepiness isn’t being confused with muscle fatigue. “Sleepiness is, ‘I can’t keep my eyes open.’ Fatigue is, ‘Ugh, I just want to lie down because everything hurts,’” explains Breus. If fatigue is what you’re feeling, take a rest day so you can jump back in with a full bout of energy.

And last but not least, try adding banana tea to your nightly routine. “Bananas themselves have a large amount of magnesium in them,” explains Breus. Chop the top and bottom off of a banana and toss it (peel included – there’s about 3x more magnesium in there) into 2.5 cups of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. “You can put a little honey or cinnamon in it,” he says. “It’s quite delicious and it’s literally like taking a sleeping pill.” We know what we’re drinking tonight!

Photo by Sara Forrest

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Sleep Well: What to Eat for Better Sleep

The States That Sleep the Most, Plus Other Sleep Stats to Know

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The Most Difficult Night to Fall Asleep–Plus Tips to Fix It

Written on June 25, 2013 at 11:01 am , by

Sleep better tonight: Write down what is stressing you out before you doze off. (Photo courtesy Cheyenne Ellis)

Find yourself tossing and turning on Sunday nights? You’re not alone. A new survey conducted by Toluna Omnibus showed that more than one-third of adults have the most difficulty falling asleep Sunday night, with 70 percent of those adults reporting it takes them at least a half hour longer to start snoozing than any other night of the week. (Saturday came in second, followed by Monday and then Friday). Not OK! Below, Dr. Michael Breus, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and sleep expert shares more insights from the survey and some surefire ways to get to sleep faster any night of the week.

What surprised you most about this survey?
It was most interesting to learn that stay-at-home moms and those who are employed full time have the most trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights, compared to those of other employment status. Being a stay-at-home mom is a full time job, and getting a family ready for the week ahead can cause as much anxiety on a Sunday night as those getting ready for the work week ahead.

Why do you think Sundays are the hardest days to fall asleep?
Many have trouble falling asleep on Sunday night for two major reasons. Over the weekends, because we don’t have the same obligations we do during the week, people tend to go out and stay up later, and sleep in the following morning. It’s crucial to keep a regular sleep routine, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day (even on the weekends), or at least waking up within the same 30 minutes daily, to avoid throwing off your regular sleep cycle. Over the weekend, we also tend to ‘forget’ about our weekly responsibilities, causing many to struggle on Sunday nights, due to transitioning to and anticipating the week ahead.

What are three tips to get to sleep faster any night of the week?

  1. Use a worry journal prior to going to sleep, to get thoughts out of your head, onto the page and scheduled for active thought at another time. On one side of a piece of paper, write down the things that are bothering you. Next to them, write down a solution, even if it is to think about the worry tomorrow.
  2. Try taking a natural sleep supplement 30 minutes before bed, like Dream Water, which includes natural ingredients like Melatonin, 5-HTP and GABA that will help you to relax and fall asleep, without the potential side effects of OTC and prescription drugs.
  3. Make sure your environment is conducive to a good night sleep. I recommend a cool room at about 65-72 degrees and making your bedroom as dark as possible, avoiding any glaring lights from computers, bedside clocks, streetlights, etc. To block out light, consider a sleep mask, like the Dream Essentials Escape™ Luxury Travel & Sleep Mask, which allows for complete coverage without any pressure on the eyes.

When it comes to the debate on exercising at night or in the morning, which is better in order to get a good night’s sleep?

Numerous studies show exercise at any time of day, especially cardio, leads to a better night sleep, but it’s important to ensure your exercise routine does not interfere with your sleep cycle. It really depends on the individual to figure out what time works best. Those who find exercising provides them with a burst of energy should schedule their exercise earlier in the day, at least four hours prior to bedtime; however, it is also important not to sacrifice hours of sleep in the morning, by waking up early to fit in a work out. Bottom line – schedule a workout, but make sure it does not come at the expense of the seven to nine hours of sleep needed daily.

For more sleep tips and advice from Dr. Breus, visit thesleepdoctor.com.

More from FITNESS: The Get-to-Sleep Guide

 

 

 

#140Wednesdays: What Would You Give Up for a Good Night’s Sleep?

Written on October 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm , by

Give up my guy for a few more winks? Now that you mention it…(Photo courtesy of Laura Doss)

Written by Deanna Cioppa, editorial intern

If you’re like a lot of Americans, you know the frustration and disruptive effects of a poor night’s sleep. Just why is it so many of us can’t get enough snooze time? Pfizer’s Advil PM tried to answer that question recently through a phone survey of 1,000 Americans 18 years and older. While the average number of hours of sleep per night was nearly six and a half, 93 percent of respondents reported sleeplessness at one time or another (including trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep).

The number one response to why people were not sleeping was aches and pains, clocking in at 69 percent of respondents. Family stressors came in at a close second, followed by work, environmental noise and the social life stressors.

If that sounds familiar, the next statistic might surprise you. When asked what they would give up to sleep better, a whopping 67 percent said they would give up one vacation day a year to get a more restful night’s sleep. A day at the beach is no day at the beach if you’re exhausted, after all. Additionally, 62 percent said they would give up a “lifestyle luxury” like cable TV, and 32 percent said they would give up a bonus or pay raise. Read more