Guest Post by Julia Merrill, founder of BefriendYourDoc.org
Do you ever have a night – or several of them – where no one in the family can sleep? Mum and Dad put the kids to bed, but they keep popping right back out because they can’t fall asleep. Then when they finally do drift off, Mum and Dad are tossing and turning all night long. If this sounds like your family, here are a few tips to help you all get a good night’s sleep.
Lack of Sleep
If you haven’t been sleeping well for just a couple of nights, you may be tired and irritable, but it’s not a huge health issue. If your lack of sleep has lingered on for a while, though, you will want to make sure you deal with it. The repercussions of not getting enough sleep can be severe. They include the risk of higher blood pressure as well as an increased risk of diabetes, obesity and depression. Looking for something that decreases with lack of sleep? Here’s one you won’t like: your sex drive. In short, a host of issues can develop if you continually lose sleep. Here are a few things you can do to prevent these things from developing.
Tips for Kids
Some of the same health risks with lack of sleep apply to kids as well, including obesity and diabetes. Plus, if kids develop bad sleep habits, they tend to carry over to adulthood, so it’s best to head them off now. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that kids get nine to 11 hours of sleep, so you should aim for that mark for your kids. To help with this, develop a nightly routine that kids enjoy that also signals that it’s time for bed. This can include things like a warm bath, picking out pyjamas, reading a story, singing songs, picking out a stuffed animal to sleep with and more. A consistent routine helps their bodies get ready to relax and drift off.
Electronic use by kids should end at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light given off by screens can suppress the production of melatonin, which helps kids sleep. Playing games late at night can also stimulate brain activity when kids should be winding down. You should keep electronics out of the bedroom to avoid the temptation and to keep your kids from being interrupted by texts and social media notifications as they try to sleep.
Tips for Adults
Adults who want to sleep better would also do well to avoid the use of electronics an hour before bed for many of the same reasons as kids. Instead of using your phone while you lie in bed, try reading a book. You should also avoid caffeine late in the day (levels can stay elevated in your blood for six to eight hours) so you can fall asleep. A good melatonin supplement can help as well – melatonin is an important sleep hormone that gives a signal to your brain when it’s time to relax and get some sleep.
Optimizing your bedroom environment can help as well. While external noise can be distracting, a background white noise may be soothing as you sleep. Minimize light, set the thermostat at the temperature that works best for you and make sure your bedroom is quiet, relaxing and even clean so your brain can wind down more easily.
Not sleeping well can be frustrating for kids and adults. Don’t let this problem go unchecked for long. Try some of the remedies listed above, or don’t be afraid to visit the doctor – they can often give you strategies that will have you sleeping like a baby in no time.
Julia Merrill is on a mission. She wants to use information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that. The site offers an abundance of information from tips on finding the right medical care to help with dealing with insurance companies to general health and wellness advice and more.
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