Sweet dreams aren’t always a given: for people plagued by stress overload or sleep disorders, a decent nightly shuteye’s made of smart strategies. If you’re tossing and turning in bed at night, it’s a sign that a change of habits is in order. Here are a few simple tricks you and your wakeful family can try on nights when Sandman fails to drop by your neighborhood.
1. Give Smart Screens a Hey-Ho
As fun as TV, YouTube and Facebook may be, exposure to smart screens at bedtime can chip off chinks of your family’s sweet dreams. A research carried out by Harvard Medical School experts found that blue light emitted by smart screens such as eReaders, tablets, and cell phones can ruin a good night’s sleep because it inhibits release of sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, reduces morning-after alertness, and disturbs the circadian rhythm. If you really can’t imagine bedtime without a good read, swap the e-book for a hardback tonight, and you’ll soon find yourself nodding off.
2. Invest in Quality Mattresses
An uncomfortable bed is another potential reason why you’re tossing and turning every night. If your bed has seen better days, you may want to invest in a comfort sleep latex mattress. When selecting the mattress for your kids’ room, opt for a hypoallergenic model as it will slice the risk of asthma, bacterial infections, and other respiratory problems for children who’re more sensitive to airborne pollutants than adults. For bonus comfort points, you can clean the pillows or swap them for their form-fitting counterparts. You should also have the bedclothes dry cleaned at least twice a year for a thorough anti-allergen flush.
3. Lay off Caffeine and Alcohol
Your favorite bean-milked drink can wreak havoc on the duration and quality of your nighttime rest unless you watch your daily coffee intake. According to medical experts, consuming 400 mg of caffeine a day is considered safe, but you should avoid drinking strong java blends late in the afternoon if you want to fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality. Also, that glass of good, old brewsky you take to let your hair down at the end of the day can turn against you if you start abusing it. Habitual alcohol intake can lead to sleep fragmentation and nightmares, so it may be a good idea to lay off the bottle if you want to stay on the peaceful side of the pillow.
4. A Relaxing Soak at Bedtime
Bubble baths aren’t meant for Hollywood divas only: a deep soak in hot water laced with sea salt will soothe the nervous system and encourage blood flow, allowing you to fall asleep faster and sleep through the night peacefully. Although the contact with warm water will cause a one-time hike in bodily temperature, its effects will wear off quickly and once peripheral circulation takes a nosedive, your organism will begin preparing to go into sleep mode. For an added dose of enjoyment, you can add Roman chamomile, lavender, or sandalwood oil to the bath: soothing essential oils have been used in alternative medicine as natural sleep enhancers for centuries.
5. Sweet Dreams on the Menu
If you think that your menu has no effect whatsoever on the quality of your nightly rest, you’re utterly mistaken. To usher in refreshing sleep, stock your plate with melatonin-enhancers such as oats, bananas, rice, oranges, barley, and pineapples, and increase your intake of foods rich in L-tryptophan, i.e. pumpkin and squash seeds, milk, cheese, tuna, eggs, and soybeans. Also, try to avoid foods rich in fat and sugar at bedtime to prevent nighttime digestive problems and stay on the sound side of sleep.
6. Stick to the Bedtime Routine
If your kids’ energy tends to hit the peak at bedtime, getting them to calm down and fall asleep may be an extremely tough task. Still, you can cheat your children’s late-night oomph spikes by developing a bedtime routine and sticking to it religiously. To make putting children to sleep easier on your nerves, follow up on the dinner with a trip to the park, a hot bath, teeth brushing and story time. If possible, limit your kid’s screen time and swap TV or video game sessions for a sleep-friendlier bedtime entertainment such as storytelling, whole-family games, coloring, or reading.