The sleepless nights begin months before our child appears. Pregnancy may be the "training" session that parents have to undergo to get them used to not getting enough rest. From the moment our children are born we worry about their sleep or lack of it. Is the baby sleeping too long? When will they sleep through the night? Do they need a nap? We get up in the middle of the night to care for them while they are sick and to check on their safety. As they get older we consistently institute bed times to make sure that our children are well rested, healthy and ready for their day. But who makes sure that parents get enough sleep?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, but the quality of the sleep is just as important as the quantity. I don't know about your household but I do know that in mine, 7 to 9 hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep is well, a dream. My sleep habits really are a nightmare. Your sleep habits probably are, too. Just to be sure, let's look at the effects of sleep deprivation, which include: irritability, forgetfulness, accident prone, day long fatigue, mood swings, and losing items. Maybe you even find yourself "nodding off" at work at home. Does this sound like anyone in your household? Fight these signs of sleep deprivation and get a good night's sleep with these helpful tips.
Establish a bedtime. Do your children have a bedtime? A specific routine that the family follows in order to get them to bed and asleep with a minimal amount of hassle, like bed, bath and books? Establishing a bedtime and a routine is just as important for parents as for children.
Make time for sleep times. Not only do you need to establish a bedtime, but a wake up time. Try to sleep only during the night (of course not all schedules allow for this but many do). Avoid naps and afternoon or after dinner drowsiness by getting involved in some exercise or other activity. This may be a good time to have the whole family help out with chores, then baths and bed.
Be healthy. Exercise during the day. Don't eat too soon before bed, and avoid nicotine and caffeine in the evening. These things act as a stimulant and can keep you awake.
Lock out when you lock up. Have you locked up for the night? In order to get a good night's sleep, avoiding starting projects or chores that will be time intensive or stressful. Lock out the world when you lock your doors.
Create an inviting and comfortable place to sleep. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow. Use the bed linens that are appropriate to the season. Move any distractions out of the bedroom. Snuggle with your spouse or significant other. Clothes still on the bed that need folded? Toss them in a hamper, they will be there tomorrow. Who knows -- maybe in the morning it will seem like the perfect thing to wear that day!
Turn out the lights. Not just the lights, but the television, and the computer. No, that doesn't mean you can have the Kindle and iPhone working instead. Turning these items off approximately 20 minutes before you want to go to bed can actually help you to go to sleep.
Go to bed. No, really, go to bed -- right when you are tired. If your eyes are drooping, screen is fuzzing, or you just feel sleepy and it's bedtime, then go to bed instead of staying up to finish this movie, chore or chapter of a book.
I know I am guilty of not using these seven tips towards getting a good night's sleep. I work, clean house or try to catch up on chores until far too late at night and many of you are just like me. There are plenty of reasonable interruptions that all parents need to deal with at night. But on the nights when I do follow these tips, I find that my bed is not too hard, not too soft but just right for a good night's sleep. I wake up feeling rested, energetic and happier. Now, I just have to find a way to keep the kids and the dog out of it. Maybe I made it a little too comfortable.
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