Back to school is occurring all over the place and my clients tell me that bedtime is a challenge. Not just for the children but for themselves. You need to create a new bedtime routine for the family now that there are so many activities like homework, after-school activities, and sports. Because it is the beginning of the school year your children are not used to going to bed early enough to get the sleep their body requires.
Once you have finally gotten them off to bed, you start your chores. You finish them and you finally get a few minutes to wind down. But it never feels like enough. You end up scrolling and watching Netflix or a cat video to help you disconnect from the day’s work.
When you finally do get to lie down your mind is racing with all the things you did not do or need to do tomorrow, and you are awake until 2am.
How to do you manage to make sleep a priority when you can’t shut off the day. This is where you want to look for one or two small habits to allow you to wind down quickly.
Healthy living requires a great deal of planning. Most people do not consider sleep something they have to plan. The benefits of sleep outweigh the work required to plan for a good night sleep. When we focus on our goal to look better, to feel better, and to improve our memory the extra 10 minutes that are necessary to plan a good night sleep seem well worth it. Let’s take some time to review the benefits you may not have thought about.
A good night sleep helps rebuild collagen this gives her skin more elasticity and less wrinkles. This helps improve our overall look and makes us feel younger. When we are feeling good we are willing to do more during the day. Sleep also helps contribute to being able to perform more activities. Those who play golf have noticed that when they get a proper night sleep their scores go down. This is because the brain works better when it is not sleep deprived. The benefit is that the increased exercise allows you to sleep better which then them helps you improve your gain more. Proper sleep also allows for better social function. When we are feeling healthy and well rested we are able to interact with other people on a higher level. We are able to make more successful judgments. We are able to accept more events that do not necessarily fall within the box that we consider normal disability to accept is in direct proportion to the amount of sleep that we have the night before.
A good night’s sleep also helps those that we are with during the day whether it’s our spouse, our children, or our current coworkers. When we are sleep deprived we make poor decisions. When we have enough sleep we are able to access more of our brain more of our memories and more averred areas of judgment and so we are able to communicate better with those around us.
It is our job to ask our doctors when we are not getting enough sleep how to achieve optimal sleep. You must let him know if there is snoring teeth grinding movements or others or getting up to go the bathroom multiple times during the night. Each of these issues can be handled if the physician knows about them.
Our ultimate goal is to be healthy and to be as active as possible for as long as possible. If we can also look good at the same time the entire better. It’s a simple step to get enough sleep so you can achieve all these benefits.
This has been a big year in sleep. The research and knowledge the public has about the importance of sleep has been mind boggling. I have been amazed at the new ideas shared and the growth of new ideas in therapy.
The connection to sleep deprivation and sleep apnea as an independent contributor to diseases from aging to cancer to diabetes to heart disease and glaucoma has really brought to light that sleep is essential. Some of the connections have to do with the continual decrease in oxygen caused by sleep apnea. Sleep deprivation has contributed to memory issues, and other issues of brain disease.
The use of therapies for sleep apnea and sleep deprivation have improved and take into account changes in lifestyle. The use of weight loss, cognitive behavioral therapy and oral appliances to treat mild apnea and PAP intolerance has improved and become more widely available. The idea that using more than one therapy to treat a person is something that really has helped to look more holistically at sleep disorders.
Some of the research also found that we are constantly walking around sleep deprived. Our teens and young adults are so plugged in that they are texting in their sleep. We have done a poor job of associating sleep with good grades and productivity to our young adults.
But to me the most exciting thing is the number of sites out there to educate people about sleep. Doctors, technologist and therapists have been working on changing the average American's view of sleep and its role in our health.
If we can continue to make sleep a priority and understand how much healthier we will be if we get a good night sleep we will have a great New Year.
It was a typical night where I was trying to avoid homework from work and from school. Dr Oz has a guest on who was talking about yet another controversial idea about medicine and sleep. It included several different products to help sleep. He did talk a little about routine but again focused on foods and supplements and homeotherapy. In the end the information was not complete and did not take into account lifestyle and the overall goal of helping people sleep.
When we look we should truly be talking about routines. Sleep routines just like when we were raising our kids help to create a good night sleep. This does not include electrics such a television and cell phones. And every routine needs to be individual to the person creating it. It needs to be easy and it needs to help at the same time each night. It also has to take advantage of the exposure to darkness that allows the body to secrete Melatonin.
If we look at a child’s routine we see the bones of it. You set a bedtime, usually a reasonable one, which will allow them to get enough sleep to be successful the next day. You do a bath routine. You know the things that tell a child it is bed time like brushing teeth, washing his face. They change into comfy sleep clothes and climb into an inviting bed with 1 or two stuffed animals but no more. Then you put a glass of water on the nightstand to help eliminate a complaint, you take time to help relax him or her by reading a story or singing a song, sometimes both. You give a hug and keep to leave the child feeling loved and secure.
So how do we move our life to this without making it boring? I think that it depends on the person. My mind tends to wander and get stuck in the worry mode. For me I use one of three routines. On bad days where I have anger or frustration that needs to be processed I will do yoga because deep breathing and movement helps me to unwind and relax. However, if I am stressed about school and work than yoga does not work and I will try progressive relaxation because it helps me relax the muscles that tend to stay tense. Finally if all else does not work I will listen to a guided imagery because sometimes I need to be led and that works for me. I always read before bed because my brain likes to learn.
Overall it helps to put your routine in words and adjust it until you find what the best is for you. Than you have to do it. The results will help you to sleep better with a shorter sleep onset time. Ultimately better sleep will give you more energy during the day and increase your memory and improve your mood.
As we start the New Year we always make resolutions or goals we would like to achieve during the year. This past year we have all learned that sleep affects all aspects of your health and so you may want to add a better night sleep as one of your goals for the year. The problem is how to approach this to make it practical. Creating SMART goals are usually the most successful goals.
Let’s look at some small changes you can make and add to your daily life that can improve your sleep. These are not big things but small changes you can add to your routine and as you build one on the other you will find that you will sleep better and have more energy during the day.
· Give you your electronics 40 minutes before bedtime. The light given off by your electronics confuse your brain and make it believe it is daytime. If you turn them off 40 minutes prior to bedtime you give you mind time to relax and allow Melatonin to be releases helping you to sleep. Melatonin is released when you are exposed to darkness. So turning down the lights, turning off the electronics and enjoying the quite time during the evening helps to allow this hormone to be released.
· Practice diaphragmatic breathing. One of the great ways to relax is to deep breathe. Lie down, put your hands on your abdomen just below your ribcage as you inhale push out against your hands, as you exhale pull your abdominal muscles in. This exercise helps you to increase your oxygen levels, increase your lung capacity and calm your brain due to your concentration on your breathing. Doing this for 5-10 minutes as part of your bedtime routine will help you especially if you have transient insomnia, or insomnia caused by a particular issue.
· Create a bedtime that is 15 minutes earlier to increase your sleep time. Large changes in bedtime will most likely lead to insomnia but a small change such 15 minutes will allow you to increase your sleep time without adding time just staring at the ceiling.
· Do not use the snooze button. You will find that if you get up at the same time every day and do not linger in bed you will have more energy during the day. It will also help you to not feel so
· Add ten minutes of sunlight to your morning routine. Open the curtains, sit out on the balcony, or take a walk. Any of these ideas will help you to feel more awake and have more energy. Your brain needs the light to tell you to be awake just like it needs the dark to tell it to go to sleep.
These are just a few ideas to add to your life during the New Year. It is not necessary to add all of these ideas or to add them all at once but when you are making a goal using the smart method is the best way to more ahead. Each of these is measurable, sustainable, and very specific. I know improving your sleep will make this year a great your for you.