From babies that sleep like babies, to Energizer bunny like toddlers, to sloth-like teens, the sleep habits within one family can vary greatly. One person is always an early bird while another is a night owl. And when everyone is awake, their varied and flawed sleeping habits become apparent by the way they interact. For your sanity and your family’s health maybe you should examine your family’s sleeping habits and how they can improve. You’ll soon find out that the improvements you can make will make your daily family life a bit more dreamy.
Why Sleep is Important
Aside from the pleasure and relaxation most people get from sleep, it also provides essential biological functions. Sleep is meant as a time for your brain to recharge and your body to rest. Physiologically, your body uses sleep as a time for growth as it rebuilds muscles and secretes growth hormone. Psychologically it is a time for your brain to process the day’s events and to provide a clearer perspective the next time you awake. Without these basic rejuvenation functions, people can become suffer health and emotional problems.
Experts say that eight hours of sleep is ideal for good health. But few of us can actually claim to consistently meeting this requirement. This can be for a number of reasons.
Too Little Sleep
Who can’t relate to the feeling of getting too little sleep? Hectic schedules, long to do lists and cup after cup of addictive coffee can all contribute to a lack of sleep. Sometimes a lack of sleep can be due to a physiological reason such as insomnia or another health condition. For these reasons, a physician’s support should be sought out to remedy these problems and return you to a normal sleep pattern. But if this is ruled out, more likely than not, your own lifestyle choices are to blame.
Too Much Sleep
It is true that you can get too much sleep. If you have ever done it you know that when you sleep too much you often wake up tired. Sleeping too much is usually the result of lifestyle choices but can also be symptomatic of a serious medical condition. Any time your sleep patterns are not fulfilling you should ask your physician for an exam. But assuming a physical problem is ruled out, then the blame falls on lifestyle.
Erratic Sleeping Patterns
So you are really busy and try to catch up on sleep after a few days of being sleep deprived. This may seem like the answer but unfortunately sleep is not like your bank account where you can withdraw and save anyway you want. Erratic sleeping patterns leave your body in an imbalanced state as it never know when it can expect the sleep it needs.
How To Get Back on Track
A little willpower and a little organization can help everyone in your house get their sleeping habits back on track.
1. Limit caffeine
Caffeine isn’t healthy for adults and certainly isn’t healthy for kids. Ideally, eliminating caffeine is the healthiest way to go, but for those die hard coffee drinkers a little, well timed caffeine is ok. Make sure you have your last caffeinated beverage at least 4 hours before you intend to sleep. And for kids and teens, caffeine should be off limits.
2. Set a bedtime
Hectic schedules can make setting a bedtime difficult. But for health’s sake it is necessary. Everyone in your house must have a bedtime for their sake and the sake of the rest of the family. Much like when I was growing up, this bedtime should mean in your bed and quiet. For older kids, cell phone should be taken to prevent all night texting fests. If you absolutely can’t sleep then quiet reading is acceptable but at least give yourself the opportunity to sleep an appropriate amount of time.
3. Create a bedtime routine
A great way to stock to a bedtime, especially for young children, is to create a bedtime routine to look forward to. For kids, in addition to the necessary tasks like toothbrushing, add a brief story time or a song. For older kids allowing them extra internet time or texting right before bed may help. And don’t forget yourself! Indulge with a bubble bath, a good book or a glass of wine that will entice you to head to bed at a reasonable hour.
Anyone who has seen a tired toddler acting out because they need a nap, can agree that sleep can make all the difference in how a person can act on a given day. A happy and healthy family life hinges on having happy and healthy family members, and sleep is an integral part of that.
http://www.familysleep.com/ Accessed November 13, 2010.
Why Do We Need So Much Sleep? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3076707/ns/technology_and_science-science/ Accessed November 13, 2010.