Have you ever wondered what the key to a great nights sleep is?
I have to say I always thought getting a good nights sleep wasn’t an issue for me. I sleep very well. There is probably only 4 nights a year when I struggle sleeping. Jack has never needed much sleep, but we just accepted it. Thought it was in his genetics. Chris doesn’t need much sleep, so I just assumed Jack took after his Dad.
But lately Joe has started with the old I can’t sleep routine, coming downstairs every 15 minutes stressing that he can’t sleep. I always send him back to bed saying just relax; there is nothing I can do.
But actually there are a few steps you can take to help your child get a great night sleep.
Last week I was lucky enough to attend a lecture hosted by Tempur, with Dr. Nicola Barclay. And wow it blew my mind a little. I mean what can someone tell you about sleep? But actually, the science behind it is incredible and as a parent so very interesting. With a few lifestyle tweaks there are steps you can take to not only get a great night sleep yourself. But train you children to sleep well.
It’s all about light
Did you know our 24-hour body clock is all linked to light? In theory if you shut yourself in darkness for any length of time you could actually suffer jet lag without going anywhere. So light is a key to sleep. Our bodies produce a hormone called Melatonin, otherwise known as the hormone of darkness.
Having the correct light is key to sleeping. We know this from when the clocks go back and our little darlings can’t sleep! Light should be low and warm to allow our brains to produce Melatonin. Blue light is best avoided as this tells the brain is time to wake up. E readers are best without backlights for this very reason, TV should also be avoided as this too contains blue light.
The process of the body cooling down makes you sleepy. Have a warm bath before bed and then as you snuggle up and your body cools down you will become sleepy. Keep extremities covered, wearing warm fluffy socks is a great way of simulating this process; it warms your feet so your body naturally wants to cool down. Thus making you sleepy.
Use cotton bedding, as is does not warm up in the same way as polyester, and ensure you mattress is made of temperature sensitive material.
Have a comfy mattress and pillows
Of course this is key, a mattress should support you and absorb motion, yet relieve pressure. I really had no idea that Tempur mattresses are made with NASA developed technology. And a great memory foam pillow or ergonomic pillow to support your head, neck and shoulders. When you think you spend a 3rd of your life in bed it makes absolute sense that you should invest in a great mattress and pillow.
Keep a regular bedtime
Routine works, and if you can’t sleep for whatever reason have a 15-minute rule. If you are unable to nod off after that time, then get up and do something. Break the pattern and when you return to bed you will find it easier to sleep.
And if you really can’t sleep
Distract yourself; there is nothing worse that lying thinking I can’t get to sleep. Transfer your thoughts, think of something relaxing and nice. Recollect a nice memory, but nothing to exciting of stimulating.
Counting is proven to work. Whether its sheep, puppies, kittens or just number sequences. Counting occupies the brain and helps you to relax and therefore sleep.
Try breathing patterns, Dr. Barclay suggested breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 7 and releasing for 8. This relaxes the body and helps you to drift off.
Don’t look at the clock; clock watching is the worse thing ever. Worrying about how little sleep you are going to have only has the reverse effect.
Avoid or limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. It has been proven both can be detrimental to a great nights sleep.
Ensure you are getting enough exercise, a 20-minute walk every day can help burn off excess energy.
The older we are the less sleep we get. But we still need sleep. There is nothing worse than feeling tired, lethargic, being unable to concentrate and feeling irritable. Getting a great night sleep can eliminate these feelings. Following those simple steps should help.
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