4 Steps to Improving Sleep Quality for the Whole Family
In a world where we are constantly on the move, it can be difficult to settle down at night, relax, and get the sleep that you need – especially so with kids. If your family suffers from consistent sleep disturbances and troubles, it might be time to examine what is affecting their sleep.
Given the extensive effects of poor sleep for childhood development and adult health, getting quality sleep is an important part of the family dynamic. Many families experience sleep deficits as a result of mentally devaluing rest or practicing poor sleep hygiene.
Without medicines or drastic measures, there are many approaches to improving sleep quality through changes at home. Here are four management tips that can help you improve sleep for both yourself and your family.
1. Center the Focus on Family Time
With technological advancements and busy schedules, families are spending less and less time together. For many of us, though, talking about the day and processing daily events together can help us feel better and more at ease.
Stress can keep you and your family from sleeping well, and plays a major role in sleep deprivation. Talking about things that are on your mind with each other and encouraging kids to interact can be better than everyone ruminating over thoughts in bed alone.
Bring everyone in your family together daily and try to encourage everyone to participate. This could be during your dinner routine, or even part of a pre-bed routine. This can alleviate stress, and create an open line of communication and trust within the family. Allow this time to be removed from distraction and solely focused on genuine, authentic interaction. If your child, partner or yourself is particularly worked up, try some breathing exercises or light stretching to calm down the mind and body.
For children, integrating this routine into your family schedule can help them ease into a pre-bed routine that creates sleepiness. This can also include a story time or bedtime song, which creates a quite stillness to improve your child’s sleep and yours, too.
2. Eat a Light, Healthy Dinner
Nowadays, families enjoy quality time together at dinner. Having a family dinner not only opens communication, but eating well can play an important role in sleep quality. What you eat later settles during the hours of rest.
Avoid serving large, heavy meals at night. Even though most people look at dinner as the largest meal of the day, eating large portions late in the day can lead to indigestion during the night, as well as unwanted boosts of energy from the meal. Avoid foods high in fat, sodium, spices, and caffeine.
For children, vitamin deficiencies due to unhealthy food choices can affect their sleep. Provide your child with a daily assortment of healthy foods. A few dinner or pre-bed snacks are: whole foods, lean protein, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar granola.
3. Control Light Exposure & Electronic Usage before Bedtime
Even though it is extremely easy to get lost in front of the TV right up until you can’t stay awake any longer, it’s not recommended for a good night’s sleep. With digital screens within arm’s reach, it is increasingly more difficult to separate individuals from their computers, smartphones and tablets. The blue light emitted from these electronic devices is linked to loss of sleep.
Blue light produces a higher amount of energy and helps boosts alertness, heighten reaction times, and elevates mood. Chronic exposure to blue light at night can lower the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Unplugging for at least a half an hour before bed is a great way to make sure that everyone is removed from gaining energy from their devices. Small adjustments like this will significantly improve your family’s sleep quality.
If you need some light to move around safely during the night, install a dim nightlight in the room, bathroom or hall. This will make to make it easier to fall back to sleep and minimize light exposure.
4. Improve Your Sleep Environment
Our sleep environment plays a big a role in improving sleep quality. Small changes to your environment can make a big difference:
- Keep noise to the minimum. If you can’t eliminate noise from neighbors, traffic or other people in the household, mask it with a fan or sound machine – gentle white noise helps make it easier to fall asleep.
- Keep your room cool. A bedroom that is too hot or too cool can interfere with quality sleep. Consider 65° F or 18° C.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable. If you are waking up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to experiment with different levels of mattress firmness and pillows to provide more or less support.
- Reserve your bed for sleeping. By not working, watching TV, or using your computer in bed, your brain will associate the bedroom for rest and relaxation.
If these steps don’t alleviate your sleeping issues, then get in contact with New York sleep specialist Dr. Mayank Shukla to help you identify and resolve your family’s sleeping problems.