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Healthy Sleep Habits

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Tips for better sleep for you and your child

What can I do to get a better night's sleep? How can I develop healthy sleep habits for my child? Here are some sleep tips and recommendations from the National Sleep Foundation.

For You

  • Maintain a regular bed and wake time-even on the weekends – Your sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a biological clock in your brain. An irregular sleep schedule can weaken your biological clock and can ultimately lead to sleep deprivation.

  • Establish a regular relaxation bedtime routine – Taking the time to indulge in a relaxing, routine activity before bedtime can help the body prepare for sleep by removing it from distracting or stressful activities, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep and maintain sleep. Some studies suggest that soaking in hot water (such as a hot tub or bath) before retiring to bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep, but it should be done early enough that you are no longer sweating or over-heated. If you are unable to avoid tension and stress, it may be helpful to learn relaxation therapy from a trained professional. Finally, avoid exposure to bright light before bedtime because it signals the neurons that help control the sleep-wake cycle that it is time to awaken, not to sleep.

  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool – Design your sleep environment to establish the conditions you need for sleep - cool, quiet, dark, comfortable and free of interruptions. Also, make your bedroom reflective of the value you place on sleep. Check your room for noise or other distractions, including a bed partner's sleep disruptions such as snoring, light, and a dry or hot environment. Consider using blackout curtains, eyeshades, earplugs, "white noise," humidifiers, fans and other devices

  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows – Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. The one you have been using for years may have exceeded its life expectancy - about 9 or 10 years for most good quality mattresses. Have comfortable pillows and make the room attractive and inviting for sleep but also free of allergens that might affect you and objects that might cause you to slip or fall if you have to get up during the night.

  • Use your bedroom only for sleep – It is best to take work materials, computers and televisions out of the sleeping environment. Use your bed only for sleep and sex to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine. For example, if looking at a bedroom clock makes you anxious about how much time you have before you must get up, move the clock out of sight. Do not engage in activities that cause you anxiety and prevent you from sleeping.

  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime – Eating or drinking too much may make you less comfortable when settling down for bed. It is best to avoid a heavy meal too close to bedtime. In addition, spicy foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty falling asleep and discomfort during the night. Try to restrict fluids close to bedtime to prevent nighttime awakenings to go to the bathroom, though some people find milk or herbal, non-caffeinated teas to be soothing and a helpful part of a bedtime routine.

  • Exercise regularly. It is best to complete your workout at least a few hours before bedtime. In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult. In addition to making us more alert, our body temperature rises during exercise, and takes as much as 6 hours to begin to drop. A cooler body temperature is associated with sleep onset... Finish your exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime. Late afternoon exercise is the perfect way to help you fall asleep at night.

  • Avoid caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate) close to bedtime. It can keep you awake. Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it can produce an alerting effect. Caffeine products, such as coffee, tea, colas and chocolate, remain in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours, but they can affect some people up to 12 hours later. Even if you do not think caffeine affects you, it may be disrupting and changing the quality of your sleep. Avoiding caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed can help improve sleep quality.

  • Avoid nicotine (e.g. cigarettes, tobacco products). Used close to bedtime, it can lead to poor sleep. Nicotine is also a stimulant. Smoking before bed makes it more difficult to fall asleep. When smokers go to sleep, they experience withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, which also cause sleep problems. Nicotine can cause difficulty falling asleep, problems waking in the morning, and may cause nightmares. Difficulty sleeping is just one more reason to quit smoking. And never smoke in bed or when sleepy!

  • Avoid alcohol close to bedtime. Although many people think of alcohol as a sedative, it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings. Consuming alcohol leads to a night of less restful sleep.

For your child

  • Follow a consistent bedtime ritual. This will make it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep and remain asleep through the night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Maintain a consistent bedtime every night-even on the weekends and holidays

  • Discontinue television viewing and video games an hour before going to bed. Surveys have shown that TV viewing and playing video games prior to bedtime can make it difficult to initiate sleep. Engaging in a non-stimulating activity, like reading, can aid in relaxing your child before going bed and make it easier to fall asleep.

  • The bedroom environment should remain the same throughout the night, if a nightlight or soft light is used that the beginning of the night, it should remain on throughout the night.

  • Encourage your child to sleep on their own, this will increase the likelihood that your child will be able to return to sleep on their own if they awaken during the night.




 

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801 S. Washington, Naperville, IL 60540 • (630) 527-3000

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