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If you are like most parents of a young children, you’ve most likely read piles of advice about how to get your child to sleep. What you may not realize is that the amount of sleep you get is just as important as the amount your child gets.
Are you getting enough sleep? Is it “quality” — you know, the deep, restful kind? A consistently good sleep experience is an important component of your health, mood and resultant family life.
The average adult needs about eight hours of sleep per night. Less than that can affect your state of alertness: A study by the Walter Reed Army Institute discovered that an adult who went without sleep for 24 hours — and who was otherwise healthy — had decidedly weakened activity in the area of the brain that controls cognition and alertness, making the subjects more forgetful and “fuzzy-brained.” Granted, you will likely not lose a whole day’s worth of sleep, but being sleep-deprived at any level will make you that much less alert.
What are some ways for sleep-deprived parents to improve their quality of sleep?
• Cut out the caffeine, alcohol and other foods and drinks that are stimulants — especially within the few hours before bedtime. If you must drink something before bed, try a caffeine-free or decaffeinated herbal tea such as chamomile or have some warmed milk.
• Try some relaxation techniques when you get into bed. One that I find works well: Lie down in a darkened bedroom with quiet music in the background (classical or new age fits the bill). Slow your breathing down. Make a triangle with your hands by touching the fingertips on one hand to the matching fingertips of the other hand then place the triangle over your stomach. Remain still, breathing deeply.
• Tired during the day? It’s OK to take a quick nap in between the four million other things you are juggling. If you think you can’t, remember, you can’t be an effective parent if you are too tired to take care of your family. One solution: Take a nap at the same time your child does. Even a 10-minute lie-down will refresh you.
• Get consistency into your nighttime. Experts advise to put a nighttime schedule into practice in order to get your child to sleep. Not too surprisingly, this philosophy works for adults as well.
A nighttime schedule will get your body into the routine of starting to ready itself for sleep at about the same time each day. If you add a consistent awakening time to your routine, your body will be able to click in on a 24-hour cycle of sleep.
• Do you take calcium? Try taking your supplement about 45 minutes before bedtime. It should help relax you enough to aid your sleep.
Tip from the parenting trenches: Make one night a week early-to-bed night. After you get the kids down, instead of doing the dishes, mopping the floor, sorting the laundry, downloading music or catching up on the day’s text messages, take a warm bath and hop into bed an hour earlier than usual. This is what true luxury is!
Find more great tips like these at the Poughkeepsie Journal