Tuesday, 24 May 2016

How to get a Better Night's Sleep

When you become a parent, something that probably rarely crossed your mind before the baby arrived can develop into a preoccupation – the sleep that you’re not getting and how to get more of it. It’s a classic conversation topic around the arrival of a new baby; with friends and family asking whether the baby’s allowing you to get any sleep, and then a couple of months down the line, whether the baby sleeps through the night. 

For many new parents, the lack of sleep is an unexpected downside of being parents, but you gradually learn to function on less sleep until you reach that magical moment when the baby starts sleeping through. Normally, though, you eventually get back to an even keel when you get some solid nights’ sleep back. 

But when you don’t sleep well, it can have all kinds of knock-on negative effects. You can feel more easily frazzled by the kids and become less patient. You can find it harder to concentrate on tasks during the day – whether that’s at home with the kids or at the office if you've gone back to work. Sleep deprivation or broken nights can have a cumulative negative effect on your general well-being.

What would you give to be able to sleep as well as the kids?
We all make sure our little ones have a calming and relaxing bedtime routine if we can. We should try and make sure we do the same for our older kids and ourselves. If you’re having sleep 
problems, try these ideas: 


We've all heard that too much screen time can affect our sleep, and according to one Norwegian study, teenagers who spent more than four hours a day looking at a screen were 49% more likely to take over an hour to fall asleep at night than those who didn’t. What goes for teens surely goes for us adults too. Be strict with yourself and set a cut-off time for any screen-based activity at least a couple of hours before you go to bed. 

Unwind and put stress aside 

Find ways to help you unwind in the evening so you don’t go to bed feeling tense. Have a bath or shower, or read a book. Dim the lights and play some soothing music. 

Perhaps your sleep is disturbed by dreams. Dreams can be fascinating and entertaining, but they can also cause anxiety. Sometimes they are a reflection of something that’s going on in our lives. For example, dreaming of snakes is common for people facing some kind of change in their life. If you’re having disturbing dreams, try jotting down anything you’re worried about before you go to sleep on a notepad. By acknowledging what’s bothering you, you may limit how it affects your dreams and sleep patterns.

Exercise – but not too late 

Including enough physical exercise into your daily routine can help people fall asleep more quickly and to sleep more deeply. But time it carefully; doing a workout class late in the evening (often the only time you have available when you've got kids) can actually have a detrimental effect on your sleep, as you’ll be too energised to fall asleep. Get plenty of exercise into the earlier parts of your day. 

Quit napping 

The idea of a daytime nap might seem like a fantasy to you, depending on what kind of kids you have! But if you have been curling up with kids for a siesta and then find your nights are disturbed, it may be worth cutting the daytime sleeps (for you, not the kids). And if you tend to nod off on the sofa after dinner; cut that out too. 

Health-check your sleep environment​ 

If you wake up in the night, be aware of what’s disturbed you. Was it an external influence – such as light coming in at the window or a noise outside? If so, you can do things to improve your sleeping environment, investing in black-out blinds for your bedroom as well as the kids’ or trying out earplugs to reduce the effect sounds might have on you. 

Broken nights are something that none of us want. Making a few simple adjustments to your daily routine could reward you with better quality and longer sleep.   

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