Nat hosted a Facebook Live on How to Get More Sleep as a Parent of Twins, thanks to our friends at Love to Dream. Check out the video below for tons of tips on how to become more well-rested while trying to raise twins.
Twiniversity has worked with Love to Dream (check out their store on Amazon) since before they were in the United States. They created their baby sleep gear to be a cross between a blanket and a swaddle, specifically designed to allow babies to have their hands up, so if they roll over in the night they can prop themselves up or be able to move. With this design the baby can also chew on their hands, allowing them to self soothe. The Swaddle UP is a swaddle bag with top and bottom zipper access. This allows parents to change a diaper without having to take off the swaddle.
Set the stage for sleep
To have good sleep you need to set the room to your conditions necessary for great sleep. There are five steps to setting the stage for good sleep. The first is darkness. If your bedroom is not dark, you can darken it through hanging blackout shades or even a heavy towel. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Blackout shades can be found on Amazon and also consider blackout curtains (buy on Amazon).
Use white noise for better sleep
White noise will drown out the random noises that might wake you in the middle of the night. It puts your head in a steady stream and allows you to get quality sleep. You can use a white noise machine (buy on Amazon) or an app on your phone.
Pay attention to the room temperature
The temperature of the bedroom is critical to sleep comfort. Experts say that the recommended temperature is 60-70 degrees, however Natalie thinks that is a big range. She recommends a more manageable range of 68-72 degrees for yourself and your babies. Personally, she recommends leaning towards the colder side because she sleeps better in cold air.
What should I wear for sleep?
Look at what you are wearing to bed. Is there a specific pair of pajamas that are more comfortable? What are they made of? For Natalie, she prefers cotton nightgowns. Love to Dream makes their sleepers out of 93% cotton specifically for the breathability. People have a sensory sensitivity to touch that is specific for sleep. When looking at the fabric another question to also consider is whether the fabric is too heavy. On the back of the Love to Dream packaging it tells you the weight of the fabric in addition to the sizing. Comfortable clothing is a critical factor to achieve optimal sleep.
Get enough natural light during the day
The final step to setting the stage is to get natural light during the day. This helps your circadian rhythm. So in the day open the curtains or go outside. It’s the bookend to the first factor to set the stage for getting good sleep. Keep the days light and the nights dark.
The importance of a schedule for parents
Nat followed a nightly routine when putting her own twins to bed as babies. As adults we forget that we also need a schedule — a schedule of when we go to sleep and when we wake up, and to keep this schedule even on the weekends. Natalie swears by her sleep schedule and despite being teased by her family if she breaks the schedule on the weekends it throws off her Monday morning.
If you don’t have help and you’re still doing middle of the night feedings with your babies, you and your partner can take 5-6 hour shifts to feed the babies on your own while the other parent sleeps. Determine who will sleep when so there is no misunderstanding and you can guarantee each of you will get to sleep.
Natalie suggests that in addition to creating a schedule to get more sleep, take advantage of the time that visitors come over. When they arrive it’s time for you to go and take a nap — not sit there and chit chat for hours. This person could be a church volunteer, a neighbor, a family member, etc. This is the time to focus on sleep, making it a priority. The chores can wait, the only exception is if you have no clean clothing. Groceries may seem like a priority but instead of going to the store you can order them online and have them delivered. Sleep deprivation is an actual form of torture and you need to get as much sleep as you can.
After polling our audience for the number of uninterrupted consecutive hours of sleep they got last night it was apparent that people are not getting enough sleep. Natalie pointed out that it is important to make sure your goal is to get quality sleep for the minimal hours that you get.
Have a bedtime routine for YOU
In tandem with a schedule the next tip is to have a bedtime routine. You have a routine for your babies why not for yourself? One piece that is critical to your routine is avoiding electronics one hour before bed. In addition to the distraction, electronics are made to be stimulants and they bring you out of your sleepy state. The blue light from electronics (smartphones, tablets, smart televisions, and laptops) is a stimulant. If you’re wondering why your children have trouble going to sleep look and see how close to bedtime they are on electronics before bed. Natalie said that her downward spiral starts by checking to make sure her alarm is on, and then she checks Instagram and continues to scroll through her phone when she should be asleep. You could get blue light glasses (buy on Amazon) to remove the blue light effect but your best bet is to just to avoid electronics before bedtime.
Exercise leads to better sleep
The final tip to get more sleep is to exercise. Studies say that if you have trouble sleeping you should do some sort of exercise during the day. This does not mean that it needs to be a strenuous high intensity class at Barry’s Bootcamp, but a brisk walk with your babies that raises your heart rate should be enough. However, make sure that your stroller’s wheels can handle it. You can’t use an umbrella stroller for this type of walk, you need something that has sturdy wheels to withstand the pace of your walk. A jogging stroller would be fine, but so would any stroller with air tires should work. Try for every day, but if not, do a few days a week.
Natalie shared the Love to Dream Transition Bag with us. This swaddle has the option of zipping off the fabric at the arms to go from swaddle, one arm out, to both arms out as a sleep sack. The zippers come off with the fabric so as not to irritate your baby. Love to Dream takes all the factors of good sleep into consideration when creating these swaddles for your babies in every stage of their first few years.
In conclusion, critical factors to get more sleep covered are:
- No electronics before bed
- Set the stage of your bedroom for your optimal sleep
- Make sure your pajamas are comfortable and the fabric and weight of your choice
- Make sure to get daylight during the day, and to have a dark room
- Stick to a sleep schedule that has a bedtime routine
Good quality sleep is necessary for good health. Put yourself first and make sure you are getting enough sleep. You are not useful without good sleep. It’s not just about the babies getting good sleep; sleep is an affair for the entire family.