There are a lot of reasons why moms are right up there with medical residents and shift workers in terms of soul-crushing sleep deprivation. From pregnancy insomnia to waiting up for teenagers to get home (and all the sleep issues in between) motherhood and sleep aren’t exactly compatible. But there are some ways to feel more awake, today, right now. Here are four, research-backed tips to try.
Drink Coffee at 9:30 A.M. and 1:30 P.M.
Experts say to go for your caffeine boost when your stress hormones (cortisol) aren’t already giving you a natural buzz. For most people who get up at 6:30 a.m., cortisol peaks between waking up and 9 a.m., again midday and from 5:30 to 6:30, according to researchers. Drinking coffee at 9:30 a.m. will continue to boost your energy post-cortisol spike, but allow time for the caffeine to leave your system before bed (usually 12 hours). If you’re not kept up by caffeine (or you’re dealing with sleep regressions or other extreme mommy-ing situations), go for that second cup at 1:30 p.m.
Get Outside in the Morning
Stepping into sunlight first thing sends the message to your brain that it’s time to start the day. Having your coffee or tea on the deck, or taking the dog for a quick spin around the block, can get your circadian rhythms in check, including reducing cortisol hormones (those stress hormones) later in the evening, when you’re winding down. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of bright light in the morning for best results, suggests Christine Won, M.D., M.S., Medical Director for Yale Centers for Sleep Medicine. Bonus: Sunlight and activity can help reduce stress, which also zaps energy
Take a 10-Minute Walk In the Afternoon
Doing a brisk 10-minute walk or climbing a set of stairs a few times in the afternoon (when energy tends to slip) will give you the same energy boost as a shot of espresso, says research from the University of Georgia.
Drink 64 Ounces Of Water A Day
Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can tank your energy and also put you in an irritable mood. A fun water bottle, slices of lemon or cucumber or a splash of lime juice can all help you meet that goal of 8 cups a day.
Smell Some Peppermint
Peppermint essential oil has been shown to reduce daytime fatigue, and experts say that while it hasn’t been studied, peppermint tea might have the same affect. Bonus: it will count towards your daily water intake, since it’s not caffeinated (just pour over ice for a refreshing summer drink). If you go the essential oil route, eucalyptus is another one to try.
Check out our related article on staying healthy: 10 Symptoms Busy Moms Shouldn’t Ignore.