It’s 10:30 pm and I’m exhausted from the day. My feet are tired, my eyelids heavy and I cannot stay awake another minute.
I head to bed, change into yoga pants and a t-shirt and wrap my hair into a stereotypical “mom bun.” As I stood at the bathroom sink, preparing to wash my face, I took a glance in the mirror.
For a second I see my mother. You can imagine the shock and horror. Naw…kidding mom. Kid-ding.
BUT my tired eyes did motivate me to take the wrinkle cream out of the cabinet and apply a few dabs around the eyes. A little wrinkle cream never hurt anybody.
I finally flopped into bed like 3,000 pounds of bricks. (Sorry babe, I know I’m totally winning at trophy wife.) I curl up on my side and prepare to enter dreamland.
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My mind starts churning. I think about those dishes in the sink. I think about how I turned into an angry mom this afternoon over something really dumb, and I feel bad.
I think about that rattling sound the car makes when I drive and I should probably get that checked out. I think about how much I have to do tomorrow.
I toss. And turn.
I can’t fall asleep. I mean, times a wastin’ right? The hours that I have left to sleep before the sun rises or one of my kids wakes up in the middle of the night are ticking by. I’m exhausted, and yet, my mind just keeps going.
I love using sleep hacks as a tired mom. They are insanely useful during a time when sleep always seems suboptimal.
Then lately, I tried a new trick. It can help you fall asleep faster and help your mind shift from your To-Do List to pure and utter relaxation.
My favorite sleep hack for tired moms
It’s called the 4-7-8 sleep technique from Dr. Andrew Weil. Some people claim you can fall asleep in under one minute if you use it correctly and practice over a period of weeks.
Under one minute? I thought this had to be a joke!
Here’s how you do 4-7-8.
Exhale completely. Then inhale for a count of 4. Then hold your breath for a count of 7. Then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat for 4 cycles.
Dr. Weil recommends that you do this breathing exercise at least twice per day every day. He claims that you might not notice a difference on the first try. Hence the practice.
Over a period of 4-6 weeks, you will start to notice a huge difference when using this technique to fall asleep faster. The technique effectively slows your heart rate and increases oxygen in your bloodstream.
You may even feel slightly lightheaded which contributes relaxed state of consciousness. Overall this technique will relax your heart, mind, and overall central nervous system.
So does it really work?
In a word, yes. I use this each night as I climb into bed with my yoga pants, t-shirt and mom bun. I don’t fall asleep in less than 1 minute. That seems like a bit of a stretch even for this skeptic turned convert. But I would say falling asleep in under 5 minutes is realistic, and under 10 minutes a surefire thing.
When I use the breathing technique to slow my heart rate down, my mind has absolutely no choice but to slow down too.
This is also the reason, I do deep breathing with my son before bedtime. We take deep breaths together every night. We don’t do the 4-7-8 technique, but we do deep breathing, and it’s become such part of our everyday routine that he usually starts up with just a cue from me.
I can’t tell you how many parents have tried this with their kids, and report HUGE success. (Just read the comments on this post for proof.) Great way to calm kids down before bedtime.
The 4-7-8 technique is also great for…
- When you’re really angry
- When you need to relax at the end of the day
- When someone cuts you off in traffic
- When you are about to yell at your strong willed child
- When your day is just going all wrong
- When you are feeling anxious
One last tip.
After peacefully sleeping away for a massive 3 hours, my daughter woke up in the middle of the night. I rolled out of bed, grabbed a quick drink of water, and walked pick up the baby from her crib.
Groggy and still half-asleep, I swayed with her in the darkness, humming Mary Had a Little Lamb. After a few minutes I started with a few deep breathes. She melted into my shoulder like it was a plush pillow-top mattress. I loved every minute of it, yet I desperately wanted to fall asleep myself.
I gently placed her back in her crib and walked back to bed.
And there it happened again.
My mind was wandering. I started thinking about my To-Do List and the schedule for the day, but I stopped myself. Four counts in. Seven counts hold. Eight counts out. Four counts in. Seven counts hold. Eight counts out….
Well taught Dr. Weil. Well taught.
Want more on motherhood and sleep?
- 25 Life Changing Essential Oil Hacks for Busy Moms
- 10 Genius Sleep Hacks for the Tired Mom
- The Real Reason Kids Never Want to Go to Sleep
- 5 Unspoken Truths About Being a Stay-at-Home Mom
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