Ways to Improve Your Family’s Sleep
Sleep, oh how I love to sleep! And its one of those key things to help with health, happiness and well being. It is so important for me and my family to get the right amount of sleep! Here are some top tips to help you out.
If you wake up still feeling tired most mornings or are concerned that your kids aren’t getting the rest they need, you may be looking for ways to boost your family’s quality of sleep.
You’re not alone. Many parents worry about how much rest their kids are getting, which can often impact on the amount of sleep they get every night, too! To help, here are some pointers on how you can ensure your household gets the shut-eye it needs for the day ahead.
Sleep is essential
In a nutshell, our brains need sleep to replenish and sort out all the information we’ve taken in when we’ve been awake. Not getting enough can hinder this process. What’s more, sleep helps our bodies repair damaged cells, recharge our cardiovascular system and generally recover from the day’s activities.
According to a study by Place2Be for Children’s Mental Health Week 2019, kids that sleep less worry more. Similarly, the National Sleep Foundation reports that most teenagers do not get enough sleep and that this can lead to reduced learning abilities, bad behaviour, irritability, and even skin issues. As for parents, a Sleep Council report found that sleep deprivation is prevalent, with around 33% of Brits sleeping for only five to six hours a night — much less than the required seven to eight hours.
The effects of not getting enough rest can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems including anxiety, low mood, reduced alertness, diabetes, weight gain, and high blood pressure. Not to mention lower concentration and energy that you and the kids need to perform well at work and school.
So, what’s the answer? Let’s take a look at some simple ways to boost the shut-eye your family gets a night.
The first tweak you can make to your family’s lifestyle is looking at foods to sleep better. Introduce fatty fish dishes, like salmon and tuna, into your family’s diets, as the vitamin D in these is believed to improve sleep quality. Also, nuts and fruit are great sources of melatonin (a sleep-controlling hormone), which can also boost how well you sleep.
Of course, avoid food and drink that are high in caffeine and sugar, such as coffee, chocolate, and fizzy drinks. These are likely to give you and the kids a rush of energy just when you need sleep to kick in! Swap these beverages for warm milk (another source of melatonin) for the children and perhaps a cup of chamomile tea for you (believed to aid sleep).
Your sleeping environment
According to The Sleep Council, teens need at least eight hours of sleep a night. As for younger kids, they should get around:
- 12 hours for toddlers.
- 10-12 hours for kids aged 3-6 years.
- 10-11 hours for kids aged 7-12 years.
To hit these marks, make your kids’ bedrooms cool, dark and quiet by investing in blackout curtains to block out exterior light and even earplugs if their rooms are near busy roads.
Make sure all of your bedrooms are places you like being in by decorating them in your favourite colours and try to keep distractions (such as toys and gadgets) to a minimum.
Speaking of distractions, you should probably also address the issue of gadgets. A recent study found that social media use was harming teenagers’ quality of sleep, which can affect their mental health by causing anxiety.
Using our mobiles, tablets, and laptops late in the evening can prevent us from falling asleep, as the screens emit ‘blue light’ that blocks the production of sleep-inducing melatonin. So, instead of the brain winding down at the right time for sleep, gadgets trick it into staying alert.
If you want your family to sleep better, make it a household rule to ban technology after a certain time. This will help your minds and bodies relax earlier, which should bring on sleep.
A good routine
Although you’ll have mornings when you all need to be up earlier and evenings that keep you out of the house until late, it’s a good idea to make a sleep routine that everyone can stick to. This way, your family’s body clocks will stay in sync, helping you all get the sleep you need.
Aim to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, including weekends, to help your bodies learn to sleep and wake with enough rest in between. Get the kids into a sleep-inducing routine, such as bath, then story and finally bed. Similarly, schedule in some time for you to listen to soothing music to help you drift off. And why not make a habit of creating ‘to-do’ lists for the following day to help organise your mind and get rid of any worries that could prevent sleep.
Get active at the right time
Pack plenty of family activities into the day to help tire your bodies out for bedtime. Family bike rides and walks together can help, as well as getting the kids involved in after-school activities to burn off excess energy.
There are plenty of ways to improve your family’s sleep. So, why not try a few of the above pointers out now?