By Fredrica Syren:
This morning I woke up feeling groggy and zombie-like. It had been a sleepless night because my younger son, 1-year-old Liam, is teething, so he was restless. Well, with three kids, I had no choice but get up once they woke up at 6 a.m. — all cheerful and hungry. The entire day had gone by, and I was forgetful and my body screamed for sweet things. I knew it was the aftermath of lack of sleep.
Sleep is more important than most people think. It’s essential for your health and well-being, according to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Millions of people suffer from lack of sleep. The fact is that how you feel and operate during waking hours depends greatly on how well you have slept. When you don’t get enough sleep for long period of time, you may suffer weight gain, depression, forgetfulness and aging skin.
The golden rule is that eight hours of sleep is standard; but for many of us, stress, children or a sleep disorder makes it hard to get 8 straight hours of sleep. Watch how much sleep time you lose on a regular basis. Surprisingly, six hours of sleep a night is considered too little and could lead to sleep deprivation, according to researchers from the Penn State College of Medicine.
So, what can you do to encourage sleep? If you have children waking you, well there’s not much you can do to change except perhaps trade off with your partner. That way, you both can get more sleep and perhaps even nap to catch up. The cure for sleep difficulties often can be found in our day-to-day habits and bedtime routines. Making a few changes can make a difference in your quality of sleep. Here are some tips:
- Go to bed before 10 p.m.
- Avoid stimulating drinks after 6 p.m. (e.g. alcohol, coffee or tea or sugary drinks).
- Don’t eat heavy food or sugar too late in the evening.
- Spend more time outside during daylight.
- Keep the bedroom dark.
- Stop screen time (TV, computers, laptops, Ipads and phones) after 8 p.m.
- Keep room cool.
- Drink warm chamomile or fennel tea.
- Try doing a couple of calming deep yoga breaths.