Posted: Mar 10, 2013 6:00 PM
You’ve tried it all. Ear plugs, lavender on your pillow, a sound machine. But a solid night of sleep continues to be just out of reach. But then again, you're a mom, and you often wonder if it's even possible to get a decent night of rest. If you’re about to throw in the "pillow," hang on for (at least) one more night.

Have a good LOL before bedtime

What are you doing before bed? Are you watching the news? Are you paying bills? Are you working?

I strongly recommend neverwatching any television program featuring violence before bedtime.

Stress management expert Leigh Anne Jasheway urges you to re-think your pre-bedtime ritual which she says can be the key to reducing stress before you hit the sack. "I strongly recommend never watching any television program featuring violence before bedtime, but instead doing something that makes you laugh. As a result, you don't take negative images to bed with you (which can spark your own negative thinking before falling asleep). Funny options include: watching a funny TV show, reading a humor writer, playing games with your family or calling a funny friend."

Karin Mahoney, director of communications for the Better Sleep Council also offers these sleep tips:

  • Make sleep a priority by keeping a consistent sleep (bedtime) and wake schedule — even on the weekends
  • Exercise regularly, but complete workouts at least 2 hours before bedtime
  • Finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime

Make your bedroom an oasis

Walk in your bedroom and look around objectively. Are there gadgets? Is there a stack of paperwork? Is it a gathering place for your child's toys? Mahoney says you need to make the bedroom a place to escape from it all. "That means no gadgets. Your bed should be for two things, and two things only... sleep and sex."

Mahoney gives these tips for transforming your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary:

  • Create a room that is dark, comfortable, quiet and cool
  • Remove work materials, blackberries, iPads, iPhones, PDAs, televisions, laptops, etc...
  • Start a Sleep Sanctuary Journal to help you re-design your bedroom. In it, you can include:
    1. Clippings from magazines — any pictures, quotes or design tips that inspire you
    2. If you have a great night's sleep in a hotel, make note of the surroundings and how it differs from your environment at home
    3. A list of words that indicate the feeling you want your room to evoke

What kind of mattress (and pillow!) are you sleeping on?

Couples who've been sleeping on a doublemay think they have enough room until they learn that each person only has as much sleeping space as a baby's crib!

It might seem obvious, but the type of mattress and pillow you lie on every night could be creating big problems for your quality of sleep. Mahoney stresses the importance of evaluating your mattress and pillow. "If your mattress is 7 years old or older, it may be time for a new one. Your mattress should not only meet your needs for comfort and support, but it should also be considered a major investment. In general, pillows should be replaced every year."

"If you sleep with a partner, your mattress should allow you each enough space to move easily. Couples who've been sleeping on a double (full size) may think they have enough room until they learn that each person only has as much sleeping space as a baby's crib," adds Mahoney.

Pillow pointers^Compare different fillings and weights to test the feel of pillows and comforters before purchasing.

And Mahoney reminds you not to forget about your sheets!

Sheet Tips^ What's next to your skin definitely matters. When shopping for sheets, test different thread counts, fabric compositions and weaves to determine what's most soothing and comfortable to you.

And after all this, what if you still can't sleep?

"Always get out of the bed after 20 minutes (so you don't start associating your bed with sleeplessness). Occupy yourself with a calm and quiet activity, such as reading," says Mahoney.

More sleep tips

How much sleep do you really need?
Getting your baby to sleep through the night
Sleep: The cornerstone of your child's health