10 Sleep Tips For Breastfeeding Moms
During my son’s early years, sleep was particularly difficult for me. After his night feedings, or if he woke up when he was teething, I often could not go back to sleep. I’d be up for hours, agitated and exhausted by the time morning came. Here are 10 sleep aids and tips that are effective & safe for breastfeeding mamas.
1. Calcium & magnesium. A calcium/magnesium mineral supplement taken before bed can help you enjoy a deeper sleep. A calcium/magnesium blend sourced from marine algae or lichen is ideal since your body will treat it as food, maximizing absorption. I recommend Garden of Life Organic Plant Calcium.
2. Gentle sleep herbs. Experiment with gentle herb sleep aids to find one that is not too strong. A little can often be enough. Herbal nervines such as passionflower and skullcap are a wonderful, gentle choice.
3. Homeopathic sleep aids. Calms Forte is a simple and very gentle remedy which can be taken before bed, or if you wake up at night and have difficulty getting back to sleep. Most importantly, it’s safe to use if you’re breastfeeding.
4. Keep lights low in the evening. In addition to keeping household lights low, set cellphone, computer and tablet screens to “night” mode. This warmer light helps your brain get the signal that it’s time to sleep.
5. Avoid bright lights in the middle of the night. During those night feeding, bright light will signal your body that it’s time to wake up, making it hard to fall asleep. Plug one lamp in your baby’s room into in a dimmer switch or replace the bulb with an amber bulb to keep your brain in night mode.
6. Relaxing music. Listen to a deep relaxation audio recording so that your body can at least go into relaxation mode even if you can’t sleep.
7. Keep your room as dark as you can. When you’re sleep deprived, even a small amount of light in the bedroom can make it hard for you to rest deeply. Shut off all devices with electronic lights and cover windows with dark shades and blackout curtains.
8. Hot milk. Drink hot milk to help your body relax and feel sleepy before bedtime. Cow or goat milk works best.
9. Protein breakfast. If you wake up after a bad night’s sleep, make sure you have quality protein at breakfast to help stabilize blood sugar which will be out of balance from lack of sleep.
10. Chinese medicine. According to Chinese Medicine, an inability to fall back asleep is a symptom of overall deficiency. See a licensed Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner for help balancing your body postpartum.
It’s important that you get as much good quality sleep as you can. If you’re not able to sleep well over a long period of time, it can negatively impact your mental and physical health. Devote some time to getting this part of your life working well. It’s highly worth it.
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Mari is a licensed practitioner of Chinese medicine, a singer/songwriter and the creator of Mamashine. She is also a survivor of postpartum depression. Mari lives with her energetic son, her husband and various animals in Austin, TX.