If you're not sleeping or, worse, your children aren't sleeping so you're not sleeping, here are some effective, easy strategies that will make that seem like a bad dream. It's no secret – there really are things you can do — at any age — to get the rest you need to allow you to have an energized, productive day.
First, it's a known fact that adults and teenagers don't get the amount of sleep they need. A recent Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep each night.
How much sleep do you and your family need?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults and kids get the following amount of sleep:
- Newborns — 14 to 17 hours
- Infants — 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers — 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers — 10 to 13 hours
- School age — 9 to 11 hours
- Teens — 8 to 10 hours
- Young adults — 7 to 9 hours
- Adults — 7 to 9 hours
- Older Adults 65+ — 7 to 8 hours
I've been working with adults and children to change sleep habits quickly for several years.
Here are some simple, successful strategies you can use NOW to get your ZZZZZs!
- Create a calming bedtime routine, whether for yourself or your infant. About an hour before bed, start your routine. The routine could include readying things you’ll need the next day — like what clothing you’ll wear. Before bedtime, initiate quiet time and avoid using electronic devices as they can make it difficult to sleep. The routine should include relaxing activities, like listening to calming music, reading or a bath.
- Coloring is a great relaxation tool for adults as well as kids. Many high-quality coloring books are available with a huge variety of designs, patterns and themes for adults and children. One popular book is “The Can’t Sleep Colouring Book,” which has a large assortment of images to color, including planets, unicorns, mountains, flowers, animals and geometrics. “The RxArt Coloring Book” is another book that was designed to help people relax, especially children going into the hospital. The artists that created the book say it enhances the healing process in addition to easing anxiety. If you want to follow Carl Jung’s lead, you might like “Magical Mystical Mandalas Coloring Book: Spiritually Healing Mandalas to Color.” Other interesting and soothing books are “Paris Coloring Book,” “Animal Sleep Stories Coloring Book,” “The Art of Nature Coloring Book,” and “Flower Designs Coloring Book.”
- Read in a low lit room. Our biological clocks are set by the sun and the moon. As the sun goes down, the melatonin in our bodies begins to increase, which gets us prepared for sleep.
- Avoid large meals too close to bedtime, but don’t go to bed hungry. A small snack is okay.
- Keep bedrooms cool and comfortable. The best temperature for sleep is between 68 and 72 degrees.
- Get little ones to bed before they are overtired.
- Do a bedding check, and replace old pillows, and clean duvet covers, pillow covers and mattress pads.
Another longer-term strategy to think about incorporating is room color
Blue, green, taupe and lavender can be ideal choices for bedroom walls as they can have a calming effect. Stay away from yellow and red.
- Blue has been known to slow the heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
- Green symbolizes nature, and can promote a restful, calming state.
- Purple often encourages contemplation.
- Yellow can increase cardiopulmonary activity.
- Red can increase blood pressure and the appetite.
Sleep (and wake) well!
Once you have established a sleep schedule, stick with it – even on the weekends. You'll have the most restorative sleep when sleep is predictable. Getting enough quality sleep is critical to your health. Establish good sleeping habits for your entire family with these strategies, and you'll have more energy, be more alert and productive, and lead healthier and happier lives.