How to Sleep Better
How to Sleep Better

Simple ways to help you and your child get better sleep.

Sleep is integral to your overall health and well-being. Are you getting enough? Is your child? According to the Sleep Research Laboratory, approximately 40 percent of American adults have problems falling asleep or experience daytime sleepiness. Studies have shown children experience sleep problems at similar ranges. Use this information to determine how much sleep you need and to find ways to get more. 

How much sleep do I need?

  • Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
  • Infants, children and teens need more for their growing brains.
  • When children don’t get enough sleep it can negatively affect their developing brains leading to poor judgment, impulse control issues, attention and learning problems.
  • Sleep restores the cells in your body and increases blood flow to the brain.
  • Decreased blood flow to the brain can disrupt thinking, memory and concentration.
  • Inadequate sleep affects energy level, mood, motivation, judgment and one’s perception of events.
  • It’s estimated that 70 million Americans are having trouble sleeping.
  • Sleep issues are getting worse with the proliferation of gadgets and bad habits.
  • Sleep deprivation has been associated with many health risks such as type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, heart disease and obesity.

Tips to Help You Sleep

  • Since we’re all unique, some of these might work for one person and not work for another. Try and see what works for you:
  • Go to bed and awake at the same time, or close to it, even on weekends.
  • Shut off all digital devices at least one hour before bed.
  • Don’t keep your cell phone near your bed.
  • Avoid stimulants, like coffee, cigarettes and alcohol at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature – research shows that 65 degrees is ideal.
  • Keep your bedroom dark – it helps your brain fall and stay asleep-Use light-blocking shades or wear a sleep mask.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine - Ideas Include:
    • a hot bath
    • warm milk
    • meditation
    • massage
    • yoga
    • abdominal breathing
  • If your mattress is uncomfortable you might need a new one or a larger one, if your partner takes up a lot of room.
  • Avoid strenuous exercise – that’s best for the morning.
  • Avoid long naps during the day.
  • Try to avoid fluids past 8 p.m. This reduces awakenings due to urination
  • Move the clock so you can’t see it if you wake in the middle of the night. It can make you anxious, making it harder to go back to sleep.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Things to avoid doing in bed:
    • discussing emotional issues
    • eating
    • watching TV
  • Don’t lie in bed tossing, turning and worrying -Get out of bed and write down your concerns or jot down some things you’re thankful for
  • Train your pet to sleep on the floor or in their kennel
  • Use soothing sounds to lull you to sleep, such as nature sounds or soft music
  • If your partner snores, get earplugs - Encourage him or her to see a sleep specialist since loud snoring can signal a condition called sleep apnea
  • Here are some additional tips for children:
    • Read bedtime stories from a traditional book, not a tablet
    • Have them listen to soft music
    • Say bedtime prayers together or a loving kindness meditation
    • Avoid “rough housing” or watching scary movies at bedtime

If these tips don’t help consult with your doctor for possible medication or a sleep study

If you're experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or have recently had a major change in your life, learn more about our counseling services.

Resources:
Sleep Rx https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/sleep-rx-specialist#1
Why Sleep Matters https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters
For children: Time for Bed, Sleepyhead: The Falling Asleep Book by Dr. Daniel Amen, illustrated by Gail Yerrill https://www.amazon.com/Time-Bed-Sleepyhead-Falling-Asleep/dp/031075822X