Eight Changes I’ve Made to Get A Better Night’s Sleep

Last week I shared with a number of you that I was having a rough time sleeping. It took hours instead of minutes to fall asleep, I wasn’t sleeping soundly and my mind was racing throughout the night.

There is no way that I can balance the challenges of managing my many roles – mom, wife, team leader, friend, daughter, sister and blogger without getting sleep. Especially now that Katie is sleeping through the night and doesn’t need me for those midnight cuddles and feeding sessions. I swear there were special endorphins that powered me through those months of sleep deprivation.

After three nights of bad sleep and venting to friends on Instagram, I took your advice and made some changes that have miraculously led to four straight nights of solid sleep. In fact, I’ve slept more than nine hours each night since making these changes! While none of these are necessarily revolutionary ideas, I wanted to share them here as reminders and support for anyone else who may be struggling to get quality sleep.

  • Decrease caffeine and increase water. This one was a bit of a no-brainer but still one that I’m having to remind myself to do each day. Instead of drinking multiple cups of coffee per day, I’m down to 1.5 – 2 cups in the morning and then I sip on water or decaf tea during the day. As the stress of jury duty and work were mounting, I found myself reaching for that late afternoon coffee which was certainly not helping my sleep.
  • Take a shower or bath.  Most days, I shower in the morning but, I’ve found that after stressful days it is very helpful to take a shower or bath. Even if the shower is a quick one, I find that the steam and water helps calm my mind and relax my body. I’m not doing this every night but I definitely enjoyed one this evening after an extra-long work day.
  • Aromatherapy. As part of my evening ritual, I am lighting a calming candle, massaging my hands and feet with hydrating lotion and spraying this lavender and chamomile infused spray on our pillow and sheets.
  • Dress for the temperature. I realized that while my flannel pajamas were cozy, they were making me sweat since our temperatures have recently increased in New York and are no longer dipping down in the single digits. These soft pajamas are just the right weight for the transitional weather we are having and feel like silk against my skin even though they are a modal blend. I just ordered a second pair since I’ve been wearing them non-stop the past few days. As an FYI, they run large so I actually ordered a medium which is smaller than my normal pajama size.
  • Sip tea. Who knows whether it is a placebo, calming ritual or the ingredients actually work but I’ve reintroduced Lipton’s Bedtime Bliss into my routine the past few nights and am really enjoying it. Tonight, I’m sipping it while I type this post but this weekend I brought it upstairs and sipped it while reading.
  • Turn on Night Shift  I have scheduled my phone to shift the colors of my phone display, using the Night Shift mode each night from sunset to sunrise to ensure that when I’m using my phone before bedtime, it isn’t getting in the way of my sleep. If you’re wondering how the phone screen can get in the way of your sleep, here are a few tidbits I found online regarding the impact phone screens can have on our brain and sleep.

    Almost all gadgets with a display give off blue light, and while it’s perfectly healthy to absorb as much as you like during the day, it’s not something you want to take in at night. Using phones and tablets close to bedtime can make falling and staying asleep more difficult.

    That’s because blue light tricks our circadian rhythm, or natural body clock, into thinking that it’s daytime. It also boosts attention and reaction times, and interferes with our bodies’ production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep, making it difficult to nod off.

    It’s not just your sleep that suffers, either; multiple studies have linked exposure to blue light and disrupted circadian rhythms to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer. Harvard researchers were able to increase blood sugar levels and lower the level of leptin, a hormone that causes people to feel full after a meal, in 10 people simply by changing their circadian rhythms.

  • Read. I’ve made it a goal to read at least five pages every night before going to bed.  I love reading but sometimes tend to get intimidated and even stressed out by the number of books on my bedside table or “To Read” list. By carving out this nightly time, I’m making more progress in my books and often find myself reading for 20-30 minutes instead of five.
  • Meditate When I’ve finished reading and am ready to go to sleep, I open the Headspace app and enjoy 3 minutes of guided meditation. As I type that, it seems ridiculous to see that I only meditate three minutes but as a new mediator, I made it my goal to do 3 minutes for 10 consistent days before increasing the time. It’s amazing what listening to the narrators soothing voice can do in such a short period of time. As I assess my body and relax my limbs, jaw and focus on the sounds around me I can feel the stress leave my body.  The app is free to use thus far and I have been recommending it to anyone who will listen. Never meditated? Don’t get the hype? Download the app and try it for yourself!

Your Turn – What are your tricks for improving sleep? 

Photo credit Michelle Rose Photography

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Baby Favorites – First Six Months & Money Saving Tips

This weekend alone, three different friends asked for baby registry recommendations as they are expecting little ones this Spring. While I’ve included our favorite items in each of my monthly recaps, I wanted to compile our favorite items in one easy-to-reference and share list. While this list is in no means exhaustive, these are the items that we’ve used daily and many of them have traveled with us to Vermont, Georgia and Ohio.

Registry Favorites

While we were lucky enough to receive many of the below items during our two baby showers, a few of these items we bought on our own after she was born. Baby items are often expensive and certain ones are only enjoyed for a few months – if that! Over the past few months, we’ve discovered a few ways to save money when buying baby items.

Money Saving Tips

  • Almost every item on this list is carried at BuyBuyBaby. Did you know that their amazing 20% and $10 off coupons can be stacked and can be used online or in-store? Every time you receive one in the mail or email you can add it to your app so that you can easily reference it the next time you need something! There are a few brands, like Uppababy, that aren’t always included in the discount.
  • Recently we discovered that Uppababy is included in many Macys,  Saks,  and Bloomingdales promotions! For example, a few weeks ago many of their items were 25% off! If you have your eye on Nuna products, one reader let me know that they were 40% off in the last Nordstrom Half Yearly sale!
  • Don’t forget about places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack and outlets for great deals on baby items especially clothing and toys! We bought most of Katie’s pajamas and outfits from the Carter’s outlets and I recently saw that our local Nordstrom Rack carries an assortment of Skiphop, Little Giraffe and Fisher-Price items!
  • RueLaLa has a baby section on their site and this weekend BabyBjorn and many other brands are included for AMAZING prices!
  • Surprisingly, Amazon is often not the cheapest place for many of these items. Whether you’re buying a gift for someone or shopping for yourself, search the item in Google first before buying!
  • Check out your local mom’s group on Facebook to see whether people are selling lightly used items. While I’m not a fan of buying used teething items or toys, we were able to find bottles, humidifier and Bumbo on our local group. This is also a great way to sell items after you’re done using them!

Our Favorite Items

If you have any questions about the items below or there is a category I forgot, just let me know!

Your turn:  If you’re a parent, what was on your list of baby favorites the first year, or even better, what do you think Katie will love for months 7-12?

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Weekend Reading – January 14th, 2018

Katie and Maren

How is your weekend so far? I’m currently curled up on the couch, typing this post as I sip a glass of wine and look in awe at the pristine snow.  In New York, I feel like our snow is disgusting and dirty just hours after it falls due to foot and car traffic. But here, in the suburbs of Cincinnati, the snow is still bright white two days after falling! We are in Cincinnati visiting our good friends, Ryan and Amy, who are now the proud parents to two children, their youngest who is just a few weeks younger than Katie. It’s been wonderful curling up in their living room and watching the little girls play together while their older son reads to them. Our weekend has been relaxing as we’ve only left the house for a brisk neighborhood stroller walk and a hot yoga class. We cooked dinner in two of the three nights and tonight, we took the relaxing way out and enjoyed leftovers.

This week, instead of Friday Favorites, I’m sharing some weekend reading which includes recipes, articles, posts and other things that caught my eye this week.

  • This Bon Appetit slow cooker recipe was a hit with everyone last night and perfect for the cold, blustery weather!
  • In light of the recent articles advising us to avoid romaine lettuce, I’m glad i’m not pregnant right now. During my first trimester, romaine was the only lettuce I could stomach and I found myself craving Cesar and Greek salads multiple times a week!
  • I love making a big batch of quinoa and keeping it in the refrigerator as it is versatile enough to be used at breakfast, lunch and dinner and it’s an easy way to add protein to any meal. These 29 incredible quinoa recipes will be a delicious way to change things up while using one of my favorite refrigerator staples.
  • During my manicure on Monday I asked the nail tech to recommend a light pink and I immediately fell in love with her recommendation – CND Vinylux Romantique. which is a happy medium between gel and regular nail polish. I love the light pink color and am impressed that is hasn’t chipped yet!
  • Since our apartment tends to be cold during the winter, I’ve been wearing these cozy socks to bed each night.  After wearing them for a week, I fell in love with their warmth and weight – they aren’t as heavy or bulky as some of my socks but still keep my feet nice and toasty. In fact, I ordered two more pairs so I could wear them during the day with snow boots and then at night with pajamas!
  • After yoga yesterday, I realized just how much my body needs the practice. My back and shoulders were so tight from carrying and holding Katie and my hips are perpetually tight. I tried this 20-minute Yin Yoga class on YouTube that Grace recommended and felt SO relaxed afterwards. While my goal is still at least one hot yoga class per month, I’d like to try and do short but effective yoga videos like this more often.
  • After seeing these gold collagen eye patches on countless blogs, I finally ordered them a few weeks ago from Amazon. These 100% natural eye masks left my face looking more energized and reduced the fine lines after the first use!  I’ve been using them 3 times a week and love that they are affordable ($1.25 per use) and so easy to use.
  • Never did I ever imagine I could make my favorite everything bagels at home! But, this Easy Bagel Recipe makes me think that it may just be possible! The recipe only has five ingredients, all of which I have in our pantry at home. Since we’re not traveling next weekend, this may have to be a fun Saturday activity!
  • I’ve been searching for a pair of brown, leather booties and luckily my friend Amy introduced me to the most COMFORTABLE and stylish pair ever this weekend! Even better, they are on sale for less than $60 and the memory foam padding makes them not only stylish but also very comfortable. Amy loved her first pair so much that she immediately ordered a second pair in black. I just ordered these tonight, as brown booties or boots was one of the items on my list “to purchase” after last week’s closet purge.

 

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored and instead is a list of the things of my favorite things this week. As normal, it includes lots of beauty and fashion items which means there are a few affiliate links via ShopStyle. It takes time and money to maintain a blog so I thank you for the support and few cents that come from clicking through the links!

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