Sleep? What Sleep?

You know it all too well. Once you entered parenthood, somehow "sleep" stopped being a part of your vocabulary. Even when the little critters are already in dreamland, your momma instincts keep you alert for any sound or movement. This is especially true if you have babies! And you find yourself missing what it felt like to be in a truly deep slumber.

Fret not! There is still hope! You may not be able to get back into worry-free sleep, but there are still ways that you can help yourself deal with sleep deprivation. clues you in:

The Tired Moms' Guide to Better Sleep

1. Bright lights at night

Few things are more inviting than a home that glows cheerfully on a dark night, but switching on high-wattage lights after sundown can make it harder for you to fall asleep.

In fact, anything brighter than a 15-watt bulb may have an effect on your ability to rest, says Clete Kushida, M.D., Ph.D., director of Stanford University's sleep-research center. That's because, while darkness causes our brains to secrete melatonin—a hormone that makes us feel sleepy—light does just the opposite. It causes the brain to stop making melatonin, and that's the body's signal to wake up.

To wind down faster, lower the light level an hour or two before bedtime. And if you need to get up in the middle of the night to check on your child or because you just can't sleep, use a dim night-light that you can turn on and off.

2. Checking e-mail before bed

How could such quiet activity interfere with your sleep? "Using the computer or doing work is daytime activity," says Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at New York University School of Medicine, in New York City.

Getting immersed in such tasks right before bedtime will only rev you up, and your body can't instantly switch gears. If you have the space, keep the computer and home-office equipment out of the bedroom so you'll be less likely to associate your bedroom with work. And avoid other stimulating activity close to bedtime—such as watching disturbing TV news, reading a thriller, or discussing a big issue with your spouse. These can also lower your chances for a good night's sleep.

3. Java in the afternoon

You already know not to drink a cup of coffee late at night, but caffeine consumed any time after midday can do a number on your body. And be aware that tea, carbonated sodas (not just colas-orange drinks and other sodas can be culprits too), coffee ice cream, and even decaf coffee may all contain enough of a jolt to keep you awake. Chocolate has only a small amount of caffeine but contains several other stimulants.

You don't need to go completely decaf—is there a mom out there who can do without her morning latte? But if you have trouble falling asleep sometimes, then keep caffeine to a minimum after noon.

You can find the rest of the tips here!

How are you dealing with sleeplessness so far? What tips can you share? On average, how many hours of sleep do you get? Does hubby pitch in with baby duty?