Moms and Dads: Go to Bed!
~By Janeen Hayward, founder of swellbeing
At swellbeing, we look at sleep as a family wellness issue. If your child isn’t sleeping well, chances are high that you’re not either. In fact, even once a child is sleeping well, it can be hard for parents to undo their own bad sleep habits and patterns. Yet, the research shows time and again just how important quality sleep is to our health and wellbeing.
For example, we know that insufficient sleep increases the risk for mood disorders such as anxiety and depression as well as increasing the likelihood of obesity. Everything from learning to memory to heart health is impacted by sleep quantity and quality. Moreover, most parents agree that they are less patient, more irritable and generally more lethargic when they don’t get the sleep they need.
This all makes biological sense. One of the main functions of sleep is to restore and rejuvenate our bodies physically and mentally. In fact, the less sleep we get, the more our bodies produce the stress hormone cortisol, which puts our bodies in a state of stress which makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is the very cycle that we often strategize with parents to break so children can get the sleep their growing bodies and brains need to thrive.
I propose that as the flowers begin to bloom and everything outdoors springs to life that sleep becomes a top priority for the entire family. In case your wondering how much sleep our bodies need, an average adult needs roughly 7-9 hours of sleep per night (women generally need more), while most babies need 13-15 hours and toddlers and preschoolers need roughly 12-14 hours.
Here is a list of tips to foster healthy sleep habits in children and adults alike.
• Avoid television, computers, and phones – anything with an LCD screen – before bed. LCD screens have been proven to suppress the production of melatonin (the hormone that makes us drowsy).
• Do a soothing, predictable routine before bed. It is especially helpful if this includes a warm bath as it helps our bodies fall asleep.
• Establish an early bedtime and be consistent.
• Make sure you know how much sleep you and your children need and prioritize this in your schedule.
• Use blackout shades to minimize the disruption to sleep in the early morning when the sun rises.
Be good to yourself and get the sleep you need – your body and your family will thank you!