Monday, January 25, 2016

Sleep: Important For The Whole Family

by Jamie Contarini of Good Night Sleep Site Halton

How much sleep do we need?
The chart below shows you the low, average and high numbers of sleep recommended at different ages.

As our kids get older, they have homework, after school programs, they hang out with their friends - and bedtimes get pushed later and later.  Here are 5 tips for making sure that the whole family is getting the amount of sleep that they need.

Try to get homework out of the way at the start of the night so that your child can relax and take their mind off school for a while before bedtime.

Don’t Overload:
There are so many after school activities to join.  Be careful about registering your child for too many, they need some downtime as well.  An overtired child will have a harder time falling and staying asleep.

This goes for teens and adults as well.  It is very easy to spread yourself thin – take a step back and take a few nights off.

Unplug at least one hour before bedtime:
We are all spending more time on the computer (for fun, for school, for work) and on cell phones – not to mention TV.  Darkness cues our body to start producing melatonin (our sleep hormone) and by staring at the blue light from the screens after the sun has set – we are disrupting that signal.  So turn off the screens and practice a relaxing bedtime routine.  Read a book, colour, tell a story or sit and chat with each other about your day.

Keep the Room Dark:
As mentioned above, darkness cues melatonin; we want to keep the room as dark as possible.  If your child sleeps with a nightlight, make sure that it is not more than 4 watts – and opt for one with a red/orange hue if you can (like the sunset).  During the summer the sun rises so early – so a good set of blinds and curtains can help push out the morning waking.

Tip!  If you have a digital clock, turn it away from the bed or cover the numbers with a cloth.  If you use your cell phone as your alarm clock, plug it in across the room (or outside the door) so that you are not tempted to turn it on throughout the night.

Maintain a Schedule:
As kids get older, bedtimes fluctuate but we want to maintain a 80/20 rule, 80% of the time you protect the earlier bedtime to ensure that they are getting the sleep they need.  Maybe you let them stay up late on Friday or Saturday, get back to your regular bedtime on Sunday for the week.

This goes for adults too.  It is very easy to get caught up in work or that new series on TV – but you need to protect your sleep as well.

Jamie is a certified sleep consultant with Good Night Sleep Site Halton and proud Mamma of two boys.  

She hosts a FREE Q&A every Sunday night on Facebook from 8-9pm and can help you and your family get the sleep they need.
Twitter: GoodNightHalton

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