The same sleep tactics we use to get our children to sleep should also be used to get ourselves better sleep. Being an adult doesn't mean that we're doomed to be sleepless zombies, yet that's what so many of us are.
Parents know the struggle of trying to get their kids to bed, especially when they need to get up for school the next morning. We research, we ask the pediatrician, and we ask our friends for their best tips, all in an effort to get our kids to sleep and to stay asleep, but why aren't we taking the same advice for ourselves? Instead, we stay up late, stare at the clock, snack, watch tv, lie in bed worrying, and get frustrated when we can't sleep well or at all.
We want to be sure that our kids get enough sleep because we know it's good for them. Sleep can benefit their memory, their growth, their psychological and mental health, it lowers the risk for obesity, gives them optimal alertness, strengthens their immune system, keeps the heart healthy, and reduces the risk of diabetes. With all those benefits, of course we want them to sleep well! But, guess what... you get the same benefits from sleep!
How do we get the quality sleep that we dream of?
Here are some of the sleep tips we use with children that we need to start using on ourselves.
1. Get more exercise, especially outdoors. It's a fact that most of us, adults and children, are not getting enough exercise. Getting sufficient exercise that ends at least 3 hours before bed will improve the quality of our sleep.
2. Get up at the same time every day. My daughter has ADHD and this was one of the things her doctor told me to do. He told me to wake her up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays, in order to set her sleep clock. He said this would help improve her sleep, her mood, and her behavior. It definitely helps.
3. Eliminate caffeine. If you can't give it up entirely, at least don't have any after about 4pm. Sometimes it can take as long as 24 hours for caffeine to leave our systems. Caffeine can keep us from falling asleep or can cause us to wake up frequently. For me, if I have caffeine too close to bedtime I have the craziest dreams and they always wake me up.
4. Take short naps in the afternoon. With my first daughter I would dread when she came home from school cranky and would fall asleep. I hated waking her, but I knew that if I didn't that she wouldn't go to sleep easily that night. The timing of our naps and the duration can affect our sleep at night. They can't be taken too close to bedtime or last too long. Napping can be beneficial for some, but I am terrible at naps and always wake feeling worse. But for adults who can nap, it is best to take short naps, about 20 minutes long, and taking them between 2 and 3 pm.
5. Turn off the screens. If there's a show that you like watching in the evening, keep all other lights turned down low. Otherwise, just set a time to shut the screens and noise off. This includes the TV, computer, phones, radio, and whatever else you may have. Also don't have a TV or radio in the bedroom, which can affect your sleep. My daughter goes to bed at 8:30pm, and she's not allowed to play on the phone or watch TV after 7pm.
6. Write down tomorrow's to-do list before bed. Do this in another room of the house, not the bedroom. Kids need down-time. They need that time at the end of the day to talk about their day, their worries, and their dreams. We need this too. Whether this means talking, not arguing or talking finances, with your partner or writing things down on a post-it note or in a journal, take time to get some of those thoughts out so that your mind is uncluttered when it's time for bed.
7. Have a bedtime routine. This is a big one that we do with kids. In the evenings they do their homework, have dinner, take a bath, have storytime, and then the lights go out. All of this helps to slow them down and prepare them for sleep.We thrive on routines. Try coming up with your own bedtime routine that can help you wind down toward sleep.
8. Use lavender. Have you ever noticed how baby shampoos and lotions contain a lavender scent? It's because lavender helps us to relax by easing anxiety and insomnia, which then helps us to sleep. My favorite is to spray my pillow with the Lavender Chamomile Pillow Mist by Bath & Body Works. It smells amazing!
There ya have it! Tonight when you're enforcing bedtime with your kids, just do some of the same things to yourself and you just might sleep like a baby!
What are some sleep tips that you have tried that work for you?