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How Parents Can Get Their Sleep on Track

on Mon, 06/30/2014 - 11:19

As a devoted parent, you may have spent months or years in a sleep -deprived fog attending to your child’s sleep issues. When you finally see light at the end of the tunnel, and your child’s sleep issues improve or resolve, you may find that you cannot sleep. You might still take a long time to fall asleep and continue to wake up at night even when your child is fast asleep. How frustrating! Spending an extended period of time in sleep disruption, can wreak havoc on your “internal body clock” or circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms regulate our sleep. It takes time to get your circadian rhythms back on track. Here are some simple steps you can take speed up that process.

Exercise:

Daytime exercise can have a powerful influence on night time sleep. Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise 3 times a week, can help you fall asleep, and sleep more soundly during the night. Some parents find that exercising too close to bedtime has a more stimulating effect. Keep a 3 or 4 hour gap between exercise and bedtime.

Keep a regular schedule for sleep and wake-up:

One of the best ways to regulate your sleep cycle is to fall asleep around the same time each night and wake up at the same time each day. This can be challenging for parents who try to make up work at night while their children sleep.  It is also very tempting to “sleep in” on weekends. However, when attempting to get your sleep regulated, try to be as consistent as possible with keeping a regular sleep schedule. You might find you are more productive during the day on a full tank of sleep.

Watch out for the lights:

Getting the right type of light, at the right time, can help regulate your circadian rhythms and help you sleep. Exposure to sunlight upon wake-up and during the afternoon can help your body feel awake and sleepy at appropriate times.  Keep your room dark during sleep hours. Use room darkening shades or curtains to block out the sun.  Avoid “screen time” a few hours before bed. The “blue light” from electronic devices will block melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. If you absolutely cannot avoid working on your electronic devices before bed, invest in sleep shields that block blue light. There are also special glasses that can be worn before bedtime that naturally increase melatonin in your body. When you practice these tips on a consistent basis, you will find your sleep starting to fall into place again. For more tips on how you can improve your family's sleep, please contact me.