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The key to a great night’s sleep every night is routine. When you go through the same calming behaviors night after night, your body learns what to expect and is better able to drift to a deep, restful sleep. Creating a bedtime routine is very personal. What one person finds relaxing may not work for another. The following tips can help you and your family experiment and find the healthy habits that support your best sleep.
Create an Environment that Enables Rest
Your home’s ambiance at night has a huge impact on how well you and your family sleep. For instance, if you keep a lot of electronics on and allow the kids to play with their tablets or watch television, you’re making it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Electronics emit various light wavelengths, but blue wavelengths in particular can have an adverse effect to your family’s health. Blue lights throw the body’s circadian rhythm off balance, disrupting sleep and possibly contributing to the causation of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Exposure to light at night suppresses the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which regulates your body’s state of wakefulness. Melatonin levels are also associated with cancer; people with cancer often test with lower levels of melatonin, and some research suggests the hormone has antioxidant effects and stimulates white blood cells, which attack cancer cells. To create an optimal environment for sleep, turn off electronics and dim lights to reduce exposure to blue wavelengths that can disrupt melatonin production.
Indoor air pollution is another sleep disrupter. Excessive allergens upset the respiratory system, preventing the body from receiving adequate oxygen. Improving indoor air quality involves a multi-pronged attack. The home needs to be properly ventilated, especially whenever there are materials that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) being used. Daily cleanings also help reduce dust, mold, mildew, and other allergens from building up around the home. To improve sleep, place a personal air filter or humidifier in each bedroom. Look online for the best models that fit your family’s sleep needs and won’t blow your budget. How to Home is a great starting point; it offers reviews and buyer guides for air filters, humidifiers, and more. There are plenty of models to choose from nowadays, including those with just the basics, and those with bells and whistles that can bring extra serenity to your family at night. For instance, many models come with aromatherapy diffusers that allow you to disperse essential oils that soothe the body and mind for a restful night.
Relax the Body and Mind
Once you’ve created a soothing atmosphere, you’re ready to engage in bedtime activities that relax the body and mind. Many people find that taking a hot shower or bath before bed induces sleepiness. The temperature of the water causes a person’s body temperature to rise slightly. Once they step out of the water, their body temperature drops, creating a feeling of drowsiness that encourages them to fall asleep. If you prefer morning showers, you can create a similar effect with a hot cup of tea. Double-down on the sleep-inducing benefits by choosing an herbal tea that relieves stress and anxiety before bed.
If racing thoughts and worries keep you up at night, avoid trying to fight against them. Instead, release your anxieties for the evening by writing down a to-do list you can conquer first thing in the morning. If you find yourself tossing and turning, get out of bed and distract yourself with a soothing activity, such as reading, listening to a podcast, or working on a puzzle. Many people find that listening to soothing sounds-- whether it be white noise or a guided meditation for sleep-- is distracting enough to enable sleep when their thoughts are racing. It may also help to release some energy and physical tension with yoga poses. If these healthy practices do little to reduce your nighttime anxiety, it may be a more serious problem-- make an appointment to talk to your doctor about your insomnia and available treatments.
A good night’s sleep means a great next day for your family. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine sets each member up for a restful evening. First, create an environment conducive to sleep by turning off excessive lights and turning on humidifiers or purifiers to improve air quality in the bedroom. Next, each family member should engage in activities that help release tension and quell anxieties. Many people find that a warm bath or hot cup of tea before bed helps them fall asleep. Other activities that help people quiet their minds at night include making to-do lists, reading, puzzling, meditating, and doing gentle yoga. Finding what’s best for your sleep needs is personal and takes trial and error, but once you’ve found the best routine, stick with it to reap the benefits for better sleep.