Desperately Seeking Sleep
5 ways to reboot your family sleep routine
Sleep and parenting go together like peanut butter and jam. Said no one. Ever. Let’s get real, being a parent is synonymous with handing over your right to a good night’s sleep. But when you consider that you’re trading sleep for first steps, an endless stream of hugs and kisses and a lifetime of loving this special person you created, it’s a fair trade, right?
But cheating on sleep is bad news for your long term health – never mind short term patience. What’s more, it teaches your kids that sleep is just not that important, which sets them up for health issues as they age.
Stop cheating yourself – and your family – out of a good night’s sleep and start respecting your need for it.
Make a sleep a family priority
Babies have all kinds of nocturnal needs but it’s never too early to start teaching your children about the health benefits of a good night’s sleep. As soon as they’re in their own room (or one they share with a sibling) they’re ready to start learning. And these tips will help…
1. Know how much sleep everyone needs
As we age, our sleep needs change. A study released from MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) in Massachusetts found that sleep deprivation at ANY point during infancy and early childhood can have a dramatic impact on body fat by the time a child reaches 7 years old. Ensure your children aren’t starting out life sleep deprived and heading toward obesity.
2. Set your alarm for bedtime
Our bodies need consistency – it’s one of the reasons we eat 3 meals a day. Your sleep routine is no different. Teach your kids that going to bed at the same time is as important as waking up at the same time.
- Set an alarm for when it’s time to go to bed
- Establish a bedtime routine like bathing, teeth-brushing and story time
- Avoid conflict before bed – save heavy discussions for morning or hold them earlier in the evening
3. Create a cool sleep environment
When we’re overheated or chilled, our body readjusts by sweating or shivering. If we’re sleeping when that happens, rest is disturbed. Eliminate temperature variances by sleeping in a well-ventilated, cool bedroom.
- Set the thermostat a few degrees lower at night
- Crack open the window or use fans to keep air circulating
- Wear pajamas that are made from lighter, breathable fabrics
- Consider a mattress that helps regulate temperature to prevent overheating
4. Make the night last longer
Some of us are night owls and others are early birds but we all need darkness to sleep – it’s just part of being human. Trouble is, our electronic devices can confuse our brains and make our brains think it’s time to wake-up when it’s really time for bed.
- Shut off all screen one hour before bedtime for everyone in the family
- Buy a low-glow alarm clock so the room stays mostly dark throughout the night
- Ensure everyone in the family has blackout curtains on the windows
- Place nightlights in the hall and bathroom so a midnight bio-break doesn’t wake-up the brain
5. Practice the fine art of napping
We all have days when we’re just not at our best. Enter the glorious nap. Your kids might hate naps but you’ll all feel better at dinnertime when everyone’s well-rested and not grumpy. If napping’s a new concept to your family, check out Greg’s tips for getting best nap of your life. You’re welcome.