If they’re not sleeping, you’re not sleeping. When you’ve got a family, it’s easy to question the existence of “a good night’s sleep.” But it’s not the mythical unicorn you might think it is. With the help of a few life hacks, your sleep can get a lot better.
1. Keep lights out
Optic exposure to light decreases melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone, in the body. When the sun rises at 6 AM during the summer months, this can mean little hands waking you up at the crack of dawn. Installing blackout curtains or shades in your child’s room will help shut out the light and keep them asleep longer.
2. Turn screens off
The blue light emanating from cellphones and tablets upsets the circadian rhythms in your body that control your sleep/wake cycles. Even television can affect your ability to fall asleep, as the level of engagement it requires arouses your senses rather than calming them to prepare for bed. Most experts suggest being screen-free for two or three hours before trying to fall asleep.
3. Check your support
We spend about a third of our lives on our beds. Therefore, it’s crucial that our mattresses support us in the way we need. Even children, whose bodies are much more resilient, can suffer from sleeping on a poor mattress. If your mattress is due for replacement (experts suggest every 8-10 years) but it is not in the budget right now, consider a mattress topper. It can be a less expensive way to improve the quality of your mattress.
4. Get in a routine
Experts have proven that a bedtime routine not only helps babies and children fall asleep faster, but also improves the mood of parents! Following a predictable routine prepares the body for sleep. Here’s an example for babies and toddlers: 1) feed them dinner, 2) give them a bath, 3) apply scented lotion, 4) put on clean jammies, and 5) rock them to sleep in a rocking chair or lay them in their bed. Here’s an example of a routine for adults: 1) hot bath, 2) hot cup of tea, and 3) a good book (the paperback kind).
5. Eat and drink right
Experts suggest you avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and in the evening. Your kids probably aren’t drinking coffee and sodas, but remember that chocolate contains caffeine as well and should probably be avoided in desserts—especially if your little ones are sensitive to it. If you’re looking for a good nighttime snack, try yogurt or cheese. Calcium actually assists with melatonin production—studies show that those lacking calcium in their diet have a harder time falling asleep.
Every family has sleep issues. Luckily, many of them can be avoided with a few simple tricks. Sweet dreams!