Our days are stressful, but our nights should not be. We should be able to look forward to bedtime as a chance to recharge, relax, and replenish our bodies and minds. Here are a few quick tips to help us all get a little better sleep at night.
- Make sure you unplug from your electronic life at least two hours before bed
There have been many studies done on Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, Blue Light Syndrome or Computer Vision Syndrome. Electronic devices are part of our everyday lives. We use them to talk with family, share our lives through social media, learn a new language, play a game, document important events, check our makeup, navigate around a new city, calculate a tip at a restaurant, and countless other tasks, but not separating ourselves from our electronic friends at least two hours before bedtime can be detrimental to sleep health—especially in children. A study done by Harvard Medical School found that blue light emitted by our devices suppresses our body’s natural production of melatonin and can throw our body’s natural biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of wack completely. Do yourself a favor and put those phones, computers and tablets away after dinner. Grab an old-fashioned book to read with your kids and see if that doesn’t help! Remember—it takes two weeks of persistent effort for behavior to become habit! Stick with it!
- Get out and be active
We’re all busy. No doubt life can be hectic, and finding time to go to the gym can seem impossible—but understanding the benefits of adding in a little exercise might make the decision to lace up those sneakers in the closet a little bit easier. In a study published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2010 a number of patients with varying sleep problems were placed into a 16-week exercise program; throughout the study they found that those patients who participated in 30 minutes exercise sessions three to four times a week slept an average of an hour longer and reported increased vigor and less sleeplessness. We think this is especially important for younger children. Their bodies are made to play, jump, roll, fall, and learn by doing. Encourage your young ones to turn off Netflix, and go explore new lands—okay, maybe let’s start with the backyard.
- Turn the lights off
This might seem like a no-brainer, but don’t forget to shut off the lights! The darker the room the better the sleep. Our bodies are made to respond to light stimulation. When light enters our corneas we wake up because for the last ten thousand years that means the sun is rising and we need to get up, and our body’s natural sleep instincts haven’t yet adapted to this new idea of man-made light. Don’t play tricks on your body—shut those lights off before you shut your eyes! Give it a try! You’ll thank me in the morning!