How To Get A Better Night's Sleep When You Have Children

I generally find advice about sleep rather frustrating. The standard recommendations of getting more sleep or sleeping regular hours aren’t that helpful to parents of young children. While I can often control when I go to sleep I don’t have much choice over how many times I have to get up during the night or when I am woken up in the morning: my younger children are early risers and are often awake by 6am. So instead of the same old annoying advice about hours of sleep this post has ideas of how you can improve the quality of sleep you get as an adult, helping you to feel more rested regardless of how long you sleep for.

Me on a sofa with a cup of coffee in pink satin pyjamas
It can be hard to get a good night's sleep and feel refreshed when you have young children

10 Tips for Better Quality Sleep When You Have Children

Switch Up Your Duvet

Do you share your bed with someone? Most nights there are three of us in my bed thanks to my toddler’s reluctance to sleep alone. There are many nights where we have had fights over the duvet, but not when we tried using separate duvets. By using two single duvets (and a blanket for my son) instead of a double there is no more yanking the covers off the other person or waking up shivering and cold. If that feels too unromantic for you try going for a duvet larger than your bed eg a king duvet if you have a double bed or queen duvet if your bed is king size. The key thing is: there needs to be plenty of duvet to go round.

Add Some Noise

Ear plugs help many people to sleep uninterrupted, but they aren’t the best option if you have children because you need to hear if they want you. White noise is often suggested as a way to help babies sleep, but it can help children and adults too. Playing it quietly helps to muffle other noises making them less likely to disturb you, whether that’s your partner snoring, foxes having a fight outside or the occasional car going past. At the same time you should still be able to hear if a child is crying or calling for you.

Get Comfortable

Each night (if we are lucky) everyone has multiple sleep cycles and between each one we wake up very slightly. We normally aren’t even aware of the brief wake up, but if you are uncomfortable you can wake up fully and it will take you longer to get back to sleep. What you wear will play a big part in how comfortable you are. Having never owned a pair of pyjamas until I turned 30 I am now a big fan and I love to wear a light pair that feels soft against my skin and stops me getting too hot. If you are more of a sleep in your underwear (or naked) kinda person then invest in some high thread count sheets, they really do make a big difference.

Me at the top of the stairs wearing red lacy underwear and an unbuttoned pink satin pyjama top
What do you prefer to sleep in? Pyjamas, underwear or something else? It's important to be comfortable

Cool It Down

The best room temperature for most people to sleep in is about 20 degrees celsius, but it varies depending on personal preference and your choice of bedding. If you find your bedroom gets particularly hot you might want to invest in a small air conditioning unit, it’s worth it if it helps you to sleep better. You can also buy cooling pillowcases and covers which help you not feel less hot. 

In winter turn the heating off (or down) at night so you don’t wake up too hot. If you or your partner like to be different temperatures then the advice of having separate duvets will help because you can get different tog duvets to each other. I also have a heated blanket on our mattress with different zones so I can put it on to warm just my feet in winter while my partner's side of the bed and my son who sleeps up the top doesn’t get heated.

Get Some Exercise

If you are already tired it can be really hard to motivate yourself to do anything energetic, but it can help you sleep deeper when night time roles round again. Make sure you don't exercise too close to your bedtime though as the endorphins initially keep you awake and you need an hour or two to feel sleepy again.

Switch Off Before Bed

It is so tempting to try to fit a whole days worth of activities in that brief window between your children’s bedtime and you going to bed. I am guilty of this myself as I often work in the evenings, but it’s so important to let your brain wind down if you want to fall asleep more easily. Avoid doing anything which requires you to think too much in the hour before you go to bed; a great excuse to read a book or watch some trash TV.

Me coming down the stairs in the morning having slept in comfy pink silk pyjamas
This pink silk pyjama set is perfect for sleeping comfortably 

Talk It Out

As someone with anxiety I know how thoughts in my head can keep me awake much of the night. “They” say not to go to bed on an argument, but it’s not just arguments, any worrying thoughts need to be worked through before bed otherwise you will process them during the night leading to disturbed dreams and trouble falling back to sleep. It can be helpful to spend some time in the evenings talking things through with your partner, calling a friend to talk, or just writing down how you feel in a journal.

Let there be (Less) Light

Our bodies naturally feel more sleepy when it is dark which is why we often find it harder to get to sleep in summer when the sun sets later. Black out blinds (in yours AND the children’s rooms) will help you all get to sleep more easily and wake up later in the mornings, but it’s not just about natural light. Artificial light tricks your mind into thinking it’s still daylight, especially the shorter wave lengths found in white or blue light. This is part of the reason many people advise avoiding screens before bed. If you find this affects you, you might want to change your light bulbs to something softer or dim your lights in the evening. If you want to be on your phone, watch TV or work late at night try glasses which filter out blue light or download an app which blocks blue light on your phone or computer (just switching your phone to night mode can help too).

Increase Your Melatonin 

Melatonin plays a huge part in regulating quality of sleep and our circadian rhythms (when our body's want to sleep and wake up). Our body’s creation of melatonin is primarily affected by light so in the winter it is important to try and get out during day light hours and to reduce exposure to light at night. Some people find synthetic supplements of this natural hormone helps improve their sleep quality. A few years ago I tried a concentrated cherry juice which is believed to increase levels of melatonin and I found it resulted in deeper, better quality sleep, but it cost a lot of money so I stopped buying it.

Watch What You drink

What you eat and drink has a surprisingly large impact on how you sleep. Even small amounts of alcohol can reduce the quality of your sleep and caffeine can help make it harder to get to sleep. People seem to have different tolerance levels to caffeine, but generally it is advisable to not have caffeine in the afternoon or evening because it might disrupt your sleep or even make you more likely to need to get up for a wee. You might want to avoid a large drink of anything to close before bed for the same reason.

If you are feeling tired and want a better nights sleep I hope you find some of these suggestions contain new ideas for you to try.

Long line lace bralette and knickers from IDentity Lingerie

This post was inspired by the gifted items from IDentity Lingerie, a family run brand in Lincolnshire making lingerie and nightwear handmade in Europe. They aim to make underwear for all body types and they also offer custom made items if you want something a little different to regular sizes.

tips for better quality sleep

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