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Nothing beats a good night’s rest. In children, sleep is essential for attention, learning, memory, behavior, and overall health. Kids who do not get enough sleep may struggle with behavioral problems, depression, and high blood pressure, according to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Sleep is just as important for parents’ wellbeing as well! Unfortunately for many families, quality sleep can be difficult to come by. Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones get the sleep you need.
Invest in New Mattresses
If your family members are sleeping on old mattresses, it might be time for an upgrade. Mattresses tend to get saggy and unsupportive once they reach the 10-year mark, leading to discomfort and pain while sleeping. Old mattresses also harbor a ton of allergens. If your kids suffer from asthma or allergies, their mattresses may be making things worse!
Before buying new beds, bear in mind that the best mattress for each individual depends on their sleep style, body type, health conditions, and personal preferences. For example, side sleepers typically enjoy a softer mattress than back sleepers. Weight can also be a factor to consider when choosing a mattress. Some mattresses, like the Purple mattress, are affected by an individual’s weight: the mattress will feel softer for larger individuals and firmer for petite sleepers like children. Match the mattress with the individual, rather than investing in something that will be uncomfortable and won’t promote rest.
Encourage Healthy Eating
Did you know that diet and sleep are closely connected? Some research shows that a healthy diet, packed full of nutrient-rich foods, can improve our sleep. On the other hand, diets high in saturated fat and sugar are associated with poorer quality sleep. Sticking to a healthy diet as a family is a great way to enjoy more energy during the day and restful, restorative sleep during the night.
Eating late in the evening can inhibit sleep, but certain bedtime snacks can actually help your kids fall asleep and keep them satiated until morning. Mommybites recommends bedtime snacks composed of whole grains, nut butter, fruit, or dairy products like yogurt and cheese.
Parents should pay close attention to their coffee breaks, because consuming caffeine any time after lunch can disrupt sleep. And while that nightcap may help you relax after the kids have gone to bed, alcohol can also prevent you from sleeping soundly. Instead, reach for a restful cup of herbal tea closer to bedtime.
Exercise is another sneaky lifestyle factor that can affect sleep quality. Because exercise burns energy and reduces stress, both children and adults who exercise daily fall asleep faster and sleep more efficiently. Engaging in aerobic exercise just a couple of hours before bed is great for sleep, so take your kids on a brisk walk after dinner, or snag a game of tag at the park.
Stick to a Schedule
One of the best things you can do for your sleep quality is to stick to a consistent schedule. This helps your body to settle into a natural sleep-wake cycle. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you and your kids rely on the weekends to catch up on sleep, try to sleep longer during the week instead.
A family bedtime routine can help with this. Include some enjoyable activities that will help your children associate bedtime with positivity. Parents With Confidence suggests tons of fun and calming activities you can do with your kids before bed, like playing Simon Says, making up bedtime stories, or trying fun yoga poses. Also note, it’s a good idea to power down the electronics about two hours before bed so no one is tempted by TV shows, video games, or social media. The light from the screens is similar to daylight, and can boost energy instead of encourage relaxation.
Healthy lifestyle changes can improve the quality of your sleep, and improve many other aspects of your life as well. Eating healthy, exercising, and maintaining a consistent schedule can protect your family from illness, mood disorders, brain fog, and daytime fatigue. Adopt some healthy sleep habits today, and see for yourself!