“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” ~ Leo J. Burke
I’ve always been a light sleeper and so it came as a shock to the system when we chose to have a family bed after becoming parents. We chose co-sleeping as it felt right for us and were inspired to do so by some friends as well as studies and writings on the continuum concept.
So 5 years ago I began my journey of learning to sleep next to a feeding baby that turned into a (sometimes) kicking toddler. The guest room saw me visiting several times each week during that transition and it took over 18 months for me to master going back to sleep after waking. Our guest room is still seeing me in the early hours on nights before my early start commute, as we’re currently in repeat mode with our newest addition. I have glowing admiration for my wife Mandie, I’m astounded at how she keeps going some days (I’m nowhere near as strong and functional a parent on little sleep).
What I’ve recently realised is there are always other reasons behind not going back to sleep, which is my most common issue. Being woken up by babies and children is common for all parents, it’s the being unable to fall back to sleep that’s not as common, so why is this?
It seems among the myriad of reasons for types of insomnia the most common are our thoughts. If we have things going on in our lives that we think of often, then it’s likely we’ll be waking up and finding it hard to resume sleeping.
Stress seems to be one of the most common factors. Millions of people suffer from insomnia due to stress, many don’t even realise they are stressed as it comes in many different forms. I don’t feel stressed, though realise when our first son was born I’d recently started a new job in London that came with a commute, and we’d also bought a house, turning our lives somewhat upside down for a while.
Late last year I actually did it all again, moving jobs with a commute (even longer this time) and right now we’re in the middle of selling our home and moving to Denmark, perhaps this plays a part in my current waking at night? I feel ok and in control so who knows?
Outside of the obvious I’ve found a few other reasons people wake at night / earlier than usual, and then find it difficult resuming sleep, here are 3 that stand out.
- Coffee and caffeine has a proven negative impact on sleep, especially if you have it late in afternoon or evening
- Too hot or too cold? Wearing socks to bed regulates your temperature. If you sleep with a partner there is also an interesting benefit to this http://www.thisisinsider.com/why-you-should-wear-socks-to-bed-2017-9
- Falling in love? This isn’t so good for sleep. As the saying goes ‘If you want to know where your heart is, look to where the mind goes when it wanders’. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health-advisor/falling-in-love-why-youll-kiss-your-sleep-goodbye/article16730134/
So it turns out the answer to a good nights sleep is becoming a non coffee drinking hermit who wears socks to bed. Not as practical a solution as I’d hoped.
All in, whatever sleep I achieve on any given night, I’m super grateful for it. There are many people who don’t have a comfortable bed or a roof over their heads and I try to remember this fact as often as I can.