The Right Routine: Finding a Sleep Strategy that Works
Sleep is an indispensable part of good health for adults and children. It affects metabolism, blood pressure, the immune system and blood glucose levels as well as cognitive functioning as well as the brain’s ability to store and retain information. It can be hard for someone who has no problem getting to sleep to understand how difficult it can be for insomniacs to get the sleep they need every night. The reasons for poor sleep vary, and there’s a wide range of strategies aimed at improving how people prepare for bed, how they arrange their sleep environment, and how they can use mindfulness-oriented activities to enhance both the quantity and quality of their sleep.
Cut Down on Screen Time
Television, computers, and video gaming systems are ubiquitous these days among both old and young. The stimulation they produce can make it difficult to wind down and get to sleep at bedtime. Try shutting everything off a couple hours before you go to bed. Read a book (not online) or engage in some other calming activity, such as a warm bath, to prepare for sleep. Make your child’s bedroom an internet- and TV-free area at night to eliminate the possibility of texting, surfing or TV-watching after bed. Monitor your kids’ internet use and the kind of games they play. Cut out any violent games they’re playing, especially in the evening.
The constant presence of white noise can be soothing and restful. Try turning on a fan or use a white noise app, such as White Noise or, for little ones, White Noise Baby through Apple or Android. There’s also a selection of CDs with calming sounds from nature, such as ocean waves or sounds of the rainforest that can be sleep-inducing.
A Well-Prepared Sleep Space
An ill-prepared sleep environment is one of the most overlooked problems related to sleep disorders. Researchers have found that a completely dark environment is necessary for restful sleep. Light from a TV or computer screen emits a form of light that can contribute to inadequate sleep. Try shutting down all electronics and install light-inhibiting drapes on the window to prevent the intrusion of incidental light, such as car headlights.
Lower the temperature in your room to a cool but comfortable level, and use bedding that’s comfortable but won’t make you too hot and disrupt sleep. An air purifier can help you sleep by improving air quality. Mini air purifiers are a great option because they aren’t bulky and immobile like larger units.
Yoga and Meditation
Activities that help focus your concentration and breathing, such as yoga or meditation, also have a calming effect on the mind and body. Studies have shown that meditation can help adults overcome insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. A 2015 study involving 49 middle-aged women who struggled with sleep found that meditation, yoga, and other mindful exercises reduced the incidence of insomnia, fatigue, and depression.
Scents from certain oils promote relaxation and help the body achieve a state that induces feelings of sleepiness. For many people, oils are a healthy and natural alternative to certain sleep medications that may cause undesirable side effects. Try incorporating essential oils like lavender or sandalwood into your relaxation routine leading up to bedtime.
The more children see their parents following good sleep habits, the more likely the kids are to repeat such behavior. Your words won’t carry nearly as much weight with kids if you’re not practicing what you preach, which means you can expect resistance at bedtime and surreptitious texting or gaming after lights out.
Sleep disorders often result from noise disruptions, poor sleep habits, and a poorly conceived sleep environment. Finding the right routine for you can do much to alleviate insomnia. The important thing is to stay with it once you’ve found the right sleep strategy.
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