Quality Sleep for the Whole Family: Try These Tips Tonight

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With the start of a new school year, fall sports, clubs and other activities that keep kids and families busy all day long, it can be easy to find yourself and your family not getting enough sleep. It is during these times that kids and families might start to notice the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the body.

When we are sleep deprived, the body will not be able to meet daily demands such as concentration on important tasks, endurance with physical activities, and emotion regulation. In extreme cases, a lack of sleep can put us at greater risk for accidents and injuries, and has been shown to contribute to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

During sleep, our brains get much needed rest so that we can transfer all of the information learned throughout the day into long term memory. In addition, during sleep, our bodies “heal” by growing muscle and repairing damaged tissue, as well as releasing growth hormone.

Keep in mind that everyone is different, and some may need slightly more, or less, sleep for optimal functioning during the day. With the demands that school, sports and jobs can have on the body, it is imperative that the entire family is getting the rest it needs. Unfortunately, several factors compete with sleeping well, including poor time management, diet, exposure to electronics, and the environment.

Below are a few tips for practicing good sleep hygiene:

TIME MANAGEMENT:
• Set out clothes, pack lunches and put book bags together the night before school to save some time in the mornings and allow for a few more minutes of sleeping.
• A basic after school schedule for school aged kids that includes snack, play time, homework time, dinner and bedtime routine, can help with organizing your limited time
• Schedule regular bedtimes for everyone in the family based on their ages
• Have a regular bedtime routine that you do in the same order and at the same time every night to help cue the body that it is bedtime
• Take a shower or a bath at night to prepare the body for sleep, as the rise and fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness
• Using relaxation tools such as lavender scented lotions or diffused oils, or meditation CD’s can also help prepare the body for sleep.
• Don’t take naps after 3pm, and make sure that they are no longer than 20 minutes

DIET AND EXERCISE:
• Do not consume caffeine (tea, chocolate, coffee) at least 2-4 hours prior to sleeping.
• Avoid eating a big meal at least 2 hours before bedtime.
• Make sure you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated, but not so much right before bed that you end up waking during the night to use the restroom.
• Drink a cup of caffeine free organic herbal tea (fresh Chamomile or Lavender) that will promote sleep before bed.
• Exercise on a regular basis, but not less than 3 hours prior to bedtime

ELECTRONICS:
• Do not use your bed for doing any activities other than sleeping (i.e. homework, watching TV, playing video games, etc)
• Turn off all electronics (I-pad, I-pod, Computers, phones, and TV) at least an hour before bed.
• If you wake up during the night and cannot fall back asleep, try some relaxation exercises such as deep breathing or meditation; Don’t turn on the electronics!

ENVIRONMENT:
• Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleeping; No light, no noise and comfortable temperature
• Use ear plugs if necessary to block out noises if you are a light sleeper
• Keep a journal by your bed to “write your worries away” prior to sleeping
• Keep a relaxation audio CD or i-pod recording nearby to listen to before falling asleep.

HAPPY SLEEPING!!!!!

Written by Heidi Kloss, Ph.D. for the Linden Blog. If you are interested in receiving Linden Blog updates with original articles about parenting, families, mental health, and wellness, subscribe using the field below. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at Linden BP call 440/250-9880.

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