Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

Parents, Don't Take Sleep for Granted

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

The quality of a person’s life depends a lot on the quality of their sleep. Quite a few Americans seem to be having problems with getting the required amount of shuteye. Of course, the reasons for this are many, and vary from demographic to demographic. One of the main culprits, it seems, is the digital frolics America has become accustomed to -- from streaming TV to video games to Facebook posts to tweets. This eats up an enormous amount of time, and is not a sleep-friendly pursuit when the hour grows late.

Poor sleep patterns and habits abound in the United States. The consensus among medical doctors is that people are letting themselves in for more stress-related illnesses than ever before from lack of proper sleep. Can this unhealthy trend be reversed? Put down that Starbucks and listen up, pilgrim:

Boredom is our friend

Here’s a brief history lesson -- up until the early 1970’s, almost every television station in America signed off around midnight. That’s right, everybody at the station went home to their own beds, leaving the screen to display a postmodern test pattern. So most people would take a book or magazine to bed, to stave off boredom, and read themselves to sleep. Most books will do that, if given half a chance. But today the television stations are up and running 24/7, and no one needs to lack for all the stimulation they want -- which inevitably leads to watching the Shopping Channel at two in the morning instead of sleeping. And even taking a book to bed is no guarantee of sweet nepenthe -- since most people now have a Kindle or some other device that displays their reading material; and there is just something about looking at that glowing little screen that is too much like watching a mini television set . . .

And of course the internet is happy to keep Americans entertained with social media and online shopping when they should be getting their beauty rest. Studies are beginning to show a disturbing consensus that American children are becoming physically addicted to digital social integration; deprived of their social media accounts for just several hours they become nervous and enraged -- just like a regular addict deprived of their drug of choice. Children with poor sleep habits turn into adults with poor sleep habits.

Keep it cool

To fight this trend, use the thermostat. At night, keep calm and keep cool. Science says that the human body automatically cools down by almost a full degree at night, which triggers sleep mode. So keep your home cool at night. Open a window. Dress lightly. Avoid electric blankets. Don’t fight your body’s natural instinct to chill out. This is a much better solution than popping a sleeping pill.

Take care of your mattress and your mattress will take care of you

For people with back problems or sleep apnea, a thinner, harder mattress is usually the best idea. And, according to some mattress reviews, people who suffer from a host of allergies should consider a mattress with organic hypoallergenic stuffing. The key is to find a brand that fits all your comfort needs, and then make sure you buy one with a long service life.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.