Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

Tag: sleep

Tips for Better Sleep for the Whole Family

Thank you to Julia Merrill at BefriendYourDoc.org for this important guest post about getting enough sleep. All parents know how hard this can sometimes be. 

Sleep is an integral part of your family’s health, and the problems sleep deprivation causes go beyond yawning all day and feeling fatigued. Without enough rest at night, the human body is at risk for a weakened immune system, high blood pressure, weight gain, pre-diabetes, and more.

However, some health problems can be prevented with the right tools. For instance, turning on an appropriately sized air purifier in children’s rooms removes allergens from the room to reduce asthma symptoms. And for many adults, the right mattress can make all the difference in the world. However, many of the problems can only be prevented with quality shut-eye.

Your Family’s Best Sleep Routine

First of all, you have to get your family on a constant sleep routine, especially if you have kids. Children thrive on routines, which help eliminate anxiety because children have an idea of what comes next. A steady schedule will also help you save time and feel less stressed, as well. Your family’s particular routine should be personal and based on each individual’s sleep requirements — children of different ages need certain hours (What a great sleep chart at that link!) that vary based on how the body naturally falls asleep and wakes. With that being said, feel free to use these great bedtime rituals to help inspire your own routine.

  • Turn off electronics at least an hour before it’s time for sleep. That means no television, video games, or tablets that can distract little ones from what needs to be done.
  • Dim lights and turn on some soothing classical music. Turn the thermostat down to somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees F, which is the optimal sleep temperature.
  • Have children take a warm bath both to get clean and to slightly raise body temperature. Once they step into their cool room for bedtime, their body temperature dips, which makes them feel drowsy and ready to sleep.
  • Whether or not they take a bath, make washing faces, brushing teeth, and combing hair as a part of their routine.
  • Pick out pajamas and get dressed. Make sure children’s pajamas are comfortable, breathable, and flame-resistant.
  • Little ones who are particularly active may enjoy a bedtime yoga routine that gets all the wiggles out before they hit the sack (you may enjoy this, as well!).
  • Read before bed — it relieves stress, improves cognitive function, and encourages children to grow into more empathetic people.
  • Finally, always say “I love you” before it’s time for light’s out.

Bedtime Tips for Grown-ups

Most children have a pretty easy time getting enough sleep; it’s the grown-ups that most likely suffer from sleep disorders or wake up with aches and pains. Mattresses should be replaced every seven to ten years; but even if yours is younger, it may need a replacement if you wake up with a sore back or limbs. These days, people love the convenience of buying mattresses online. It saves time and the product is shipped right to your door.

If you want to buy a new mattress via the web, make sure you do diligent research, look over reviews, and purchase a model that has exceptional trial, warranty, and return policies in case it is not the right fit. There are various types of mattresses available, including memory foam, gel, pillow top, innerspring, latex, and more. If you are unsure what kind you prefer, go to a local mattress store to get a feel for what each type offers.

Beyond a great mattress, many adults find it helpful to sip a wind-down beverage as soon as kids are asleep. Different types of herbal teas have anti-anxiety benefits and can even help muscles relax. Also consider flavored magnesium drinks that have the same sleep benefits.

A good night’s sleep means a healthy tomorrow for your family. A steady bedtime routine signals to little ones that it is time to rest and instills healthy habits they can carry with them into adulthood. If your own sleep is suffering, a new mattress may be the key to reducing tossing and turning. Furthermore, a soothing bedtime drink such as sleepytime tea or a magnesium supplement may be just what you need to fall asleep quickly.


3 Reasons Why You Should Make Sleep a Top Priority

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If you’re an ambitious, go-getting, proactive, dream-chasing kind of a person, it’s likely that you have at some point in your life — or are currently — falling into the devastatingly bad habit of sacrificing sleep in order to win some extra hours from the day. This is a common tactic of hard-nosed business tycoons and creative artists and entrepreneurs alike, but also of people who don’t really enjoy their day jobs very much at all, and who want a bit of extra time each evening to watch TV, listen to music, surf the web, relax, and just do things that aren’t in any way related to work.

But no matter how much you may need or want those extra few hours in the day, you’d be better off doing without them, or with getting them by cutting out virtually anything else other than sleep. Here are some reasons why a chronic lack of sleep will ruin your life, and why you need to make sleep a top priority.

Lack of sleep could completely change your personality

In the 1950’s, radio host Peter Tripp decided to attempt a record-breaking 201-hour-wakeathon. He was observed by medical professionals who warned him adamantly against the experiment, but he went ahead with it anyway for the benefit of a charity he had selected. What happened to Peter Tripp is a terrifying insight into the tremendous importance of sleep, and the degree to which sleep deprivation can destroy a human mind.

Tripp’s personality radically changed, and he even ended up developing split-personality disorder during the experiment. When the experiment was over and he had slept, he thought he was back to normal. The people who knew him didn’t agree and declared that his personality was forever changed for the worse.

Get enough sleep, or you can become a completely different person. 

Lack of sleep can devastate your health

Recent research has found evidence that lack of sleep can cause systematic, multi-organ damage, chronic inflammation, and can lead to any number of diseases and conditions developing in the body. This isn’t too surprising considering that prolonged sleep deprivation is fatal, and that the body appears to do much of its repair and brain-management during sleep.

If you’re cutting hours out of your nightly sleep cycle to work, you’re not just sacrificing luxury time. You’re sacrificing your health and lifespan. Needless to say, not even the best personal injury lawyer can help you when you inflict the damage on yourself with a lack of sleep.

Lack of sleep can make you worse at everything

When people are sleep-deprived, their mental performance drops dramatically; they are less perceptive and less adept at reading social cues, and worse at regulating their emotions.

It’s a darkly ironic twist, considering that many people skip sleep in order to be more productive during the day; but the evidence suggests that not getting enough sleep makes you less efficient and robs the hours you’ve freed up of their vitality.

It would seem reasonable to conclude that you’d be far better off having fewer hours in your day at work and performing at your peak during those hours, than having more hours, during which you’re an under-performing, error-prone wreck.



Practical Parenting: Making Bedtime and Sleeping Better For Your Child at Any Age

When it comes to babies and really young children, it’s undeniable that routine is king. With the world so big and unpredictable, routines help to bring order to the chaos and are highly beneficial for establishing good sleep patterns. With night times sorted, day times tend to flow much easier – kids and parents are in a better mood and have more energy for active play and creativity. It’s never too early to start with introducing a bedtime routine that works for you, your baby and their siblings. The key is simply consistency. Here’s how to create a restful routine that works.

Where do I start?

You can get started with introducing a routine from as early as six weeks old. It may not stick right away, of course, but you’re putting in strong foundations for the future. If you think about it, we all need time to unwind before falling asleep, and babies are no different. With older children, it’s helpful to explain what you’re doing and why. So tell them: “We are having a story, and then we’re going to bed, so that we can get up in the morning and play.” Find advice from Mothers and More on the safest sleeping positions to introduce.

Make Bedtime Special

Many small children get anxious at the thought of being separated from you, and that’s perfectly natural. So spending some one on one time before bed is a great way of relaxing them. Reading a storybook, singing a bedtime song, and having plenty of cuddles before they get into bed helps to take away the fear factor. Many parents try a white noise machine – babies are used to background noise and motion from their time in the womb and often like the sound of a fan or even a washing machine or dryer to help them fall asleep!

Try a Transition Activity

Before you go straight into pre-bedtime, it’s useful to use a transition activity to move from active play into a more relaxed state. This can start with a quieter kids program centered around rest, like In The Night Garden; it can be taking a bath with bubbles; or it can be playing quietly in their room for a while. Easing gently into the routine is much better than expecting them to immediately feel sleepy the second their pjs are on.

Put Them Down Drowsy

Make sure that you put babies especially down to sleep when they are drowsy, and not fully asleep. This helps to manage “micro-wakeups” during the night. Imagine if you went to sleep in a nice, soft bed and woke up on the lawn outside. You’d be really freaked out, right? You might yell. You’d definitely want to know what had happened. And you’d probably have a hard time getting back to sleep again. The exact same is true with babies that fall asleep being rocked or cradled in your arms. When they “come to” during the night, they may realize that they are not in the situation they were when they fell asleep – and they’re likely to protest about that! Teaching them to fall asleep in their own environment is really important and helps to make sure they’re able to get themselves back to sleep if they do wake up.

Create the Right Environment for Sleep

Just as it is for adults, creating the right environment to promote sleep is very important for babies and young children. So check that you have a comfortable mattress, that the room is the right temperature, and that your baby has comfortable sleepwear, like a swaddle or a sleep sack. Lighting is also important – it doesn’t have to be pitch-black; you can add in a soft night light if your child needs it for comfort. Make sure they also go to bed without feeling hungry – so a last feed or bottle can be given around 20 minutes before you put them down to sleep, and toddlers may want a bedtime snack – although avoid giving them any sweets or fruit juice.

Never Use Bed As A Threat

Resist turning bedtime into a negative by steering away from telling your children they’ll go to bed if they’re naughty. Focus on reducing their stress and anxiety over going to bed by keeping your tone of voice positive and calm; babies are very quick to pick up on tension and anger. Taking the softly-softly approach can work wonders.

Make Daytime Naps a Priority

A lot of parents think that if their child doesn’t sleep well during the day, the sleep will get made up at night, but the reverse is usually true. Getting overtired can mean that sending children off to sleep simply doesn’t work as well and may lead to more wake-ups during the night. At least one nap each day in their crib or toddler bed helps them get more used to the same sleeping environment when it’s time for bed.

How do you establish a nighttime routine?

(contributed post)