Everyone talks about ways of establishing better sleep habits for your children, but oftentimes as parents we neglect our own sleep. As you learn important things about children’s sleep, hopefully you come to realize that better sleep can benefit you as well.
After working so diligently and patiently on your child’s sleep problems, you may want to take some time to improve your own sleep as well.
How to Get Better Sleep
Just as it does for your child, the quality and quantity of your sleep can affect your entire life. Getting adequate, restful sleep is essential to your health and well-being; and it adds to your ability to be a great parent.
The following are a few helpful tips for improving adult sleep. You can browse through the list and try whatever strategies you think may be helpful for you:
- Stop Worrying About Sleep– I know that this is easier said than done but putting pressure on yourself to get a good night’s sleep is counter-productive. To avoid that horrible feeling of lying in bed worrying about not being able to fall asleep turn your clock away from your bed and gently move your thoughts to calmer topics. Give yourself permission to rest and sleep instead of feeling like you should be checking off items on your to do list.
- Set Your Body Clock – Once the kids go to bed we finally have a chance to watch that TV show or finish up the dishes. However, always having a different bedtime and awake time is unhealthy. You will find yourself tired or alert at inappropriate times, and you can feel out of sync. Choose a specific bedtime and wake-up time and stick as close to this as possible, every day.
- Organize Your Days – Hectic and disorganized days result in higher levels of stress, which hampers your ability to sleep well. Having daily to-do lists and being well-organized can help you turn off your brain when it’s time to go to bed.
- Avoid Caffeine Later in the Day – Caffeine stays in your bloodstream between six and fourteen hours! That after-dinner cup of coffee is still hanging around in your system past midnight, which can obviously make it hard to sleep soundly. People are affected differently by caffeine in various forms – coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, etc – so pay attention to how you are affected.
- Consider Effects of Other Substances – It is important to be aware of what we are putting into our bodies, and how it could be affecting our sleep. Some medications may cause side effects that interfere with sleep. An evening glass of wine or beer isn’t likely to negatively impact sleep; however, more than a glass or two can have the opposite affect and disturb the quality of your sleep. Smokers have been shown to take longer to fall asleep, wake up more often throughout the night, and have more bouts of insomnia.
- Make Exercise a Part of Your Day – Moderate, regular exercise can reduce insomnia and improve the quality of sleep. The key to using exercise to improve sleep is to maintain a regular pattern: thirty to forty-five minutes of moderate aerobic exercise three to five times a week.
- Create a Peaceful Sleeping Environment – Take a good look at your bedroom and make sure that it is conducive to healthy sleep. Your bed, pillow, and bedding should be comfortable for you. The temperature shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. Some people sleep better in perfect silence, while others prefer some background white noise of some sort. Cover your windows if you need complete darkness or feel free to use a night light if a soft glow helps you sleep better.
- Eat Well and Eat Lightly – You will sleep best when your stomach is neither too full nor too empty. A large meal before bed keeps your body working to digest it throughout the night and interrupts your sleep. However, an empty stomach can also wake you up. A light snack an hour or two before bedtime is usually best.
- Establish Your Own Bedtime Routine – You likely have implemented a bedtime routine for your children, and you can use the same concepts for your own peaceful bedtime routine. It could include reading, listening to music, a bath, or sitting down for a cup of tea. Try to avoid rushing around cleaning, answering emails, or watching an intense show right before bed.
These strategies can help you to improve your own quality of sleep. Don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor if you feel like you may have medical concerns that are inhibiting your ability to sleep well. Don’t forget to take the time for you in this area because a well-rested parent is a positive thing for the whole family.