December 05, 2013 Sally Bjornsen
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STEPS TO HEALTHY SLEEP

I don’t sleep well so anytime I see an article with steps to healthy sleep or get more sleep now I hurriedly click on the link to look for the steps to healthy sleep that will change my life.  No wonder all the pop up ads on my computer are for Posturepedic mattresses, TylenolPM and ZzzQuil (finally Vick’s figured out the real reason anyone takes NyQuil).   The causes of my sleeplessness are two adorable boys ages four and two years.  One wakes in the night crying out if he cannot find one of the fifteen pacifiers we’ve sprinkled like fairy dust throughout his crib.  The other must be part rooster – waking us when his GoodNite nightlight turns from the moon to the sun (indicating it is 6am and a civilized time to start the day) yelling, “THE SUN IS YELLOW!!!!!”   It’s a jarring way to greet the dawn.

So all healthy sleep steps must be modified in my house.  We are often up in the middle of the night and many mornings we hear our four-year-old playing Ninja Turtles in his room at 5:30am, or perhaps he wakes at 4:45am and has something REALLY important to tell us (like the cat is in his room) and he cannot wait until “THE SUN IS YELLOW” to tell us.  And maybe his exuberance over the cat wakes his little brother who is typically content to sleep until 7am.  And maybe his little brother is now up for the day but is NOT happy about it.  

So I can only control what I can control.  Aside from a comfortable bed and pillows, here are some steps to healthy sleep I’ve gathered over the past four years that actually work (for an overtired mom at least).  

  1. Stick to a schedule – If young kids benefit from going to bed at the same time every night, know that it translates to adults too.  If you know your child wakes early, adjust your sleep schedule too.  Yes, there are those parents, and we all know them, who will tell you that you can adjust when your child wakes.  These are parents who do NOT have an early (pre-6am) riser.  You can control what time your children come out of their room, but you cannot control their internal clock (unless you keep them up until 10pm each night).  
  2. Watch what you drink and eat – just put down the alcohol if you want a good night’s sleep.  And don’t be shocked if you cannot sleep after a 4pm triple Americano.  Yes, both are tools to get through a tiring day, but it just snowballs into tired mornings and tired days until your child’s first year is a series of photos of mommy and daddy gripping matching 32oz tumblers of coffee.   Same goes for food.  I can easily sit in front of mindless TV, like “The Biggest Loser,” after the kids go down and eat ice cream (ironic, I know).  It always affects my sleep. 
  3. Speaking of TV… put down the iPad, TV, laptop, Android, iPhone, Surface, etc.  It stimulates the brain and makes it harder to fall asleep.  Read a book or heck, work on your kid’s much neglected baby book prior to bed.  Something that has zero screen time. 

If I stick to these three steps to healthy sleep, I am as rested as I can be the next day.  Even when that day starts before “THE SUN IS YELLOW!!!”

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