Healthy families get a good night’s rest. Sleep helps us function at our best physically and emotionally. It curbs a toddler’s (or teenager’s) tantrums and improves the patience level of parents and caregivers.
We spend 33 percent of our lives asleep and yet proportionately little time is spent ensuring our sleep is as restful as possible. The consequences of a poor night’s sleep are higher stress, increased mistakes and difficulty concentrating.
Here are some tips for making sleep a priority.
1. Take care of your body. Tobacco products, caffeine and alcohol all lead to poor sleep. Eating late at night also affects those z’s. By avoiding these products, eating at least two to three hours before bedtime, and exercising regularly, your body will be ready for a good nights sleep.
2. Equipment counts. It may be an investment, but a good mattress and pillow will make every minute of every day a little bit better. A mattress should be replaced every five to seven years and pillows every year. When you lie down, there should be enough room in your bed for you and your partner to move about easily. Vacuum your mattress and base from time to time to eliminate dust.
3. Sleep is sacred and so is the bedroom. Keep televisions, computers and exercise equipment out of the bedroom. Instead, let your bedroom be a quiet, comfortable and intimate space. Let your bedroom reflect the quality of sleep you want.
4. Get ready. A consistent bedtime routine will help ensure your sleep is consistent. Relax at night by reading a book, listening to music or enjoying a hot bath. TV may put you to sleep but it doesn’t help you get a good night’s rest.
5. Children and teens need routines. Children especially respond well to consistent sleep routines such as quiet play followed by bath, brushing teeth and bed. It may take a few minutes for them to relax and fall asleep. Allow them to play or read quietly as they get ready to close their eyes. Teenagers can benefit from all of these tips.
6. Clear your mind. If you are worried about tomorrow, take a few minutes before bed and make a list of things to do. Write in your journal about things that worry you. Do what ever it takes for you to leave the day’s trouble behind.
Sleep affects your quality of life every day and should be a conscientious part of our daily routine. Good health depends upon eating right, exercising and sleeping well. A good night’s sleep can improve your relationships, your productivity and your openness to new ideas. Sleep rejuvenates the body and it reorganizes the brain. It makes people and families function at their highest.
Maria Mencias is a project coordinator in Vista Community Clinic’s Maternal Child Health Department. For more information, visit www.vistacommunityclinic.org or to make an appointment, call (760) 631-5000.