Today marks the start of National Sleep Awareness Week (March 7-12). The weeklong event, sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation, focuses on sleep education and evaluation. Do you really know how important sleep is for your health and happiness? Here are three important facts that The National Sleep Foundation thinks every person should know.
You Need Seven to Nine Hours of Sleep Per Night
While you may think you can “cheat” on the amount of sleep you get, not getting enough Zs will eventually catch up with you. Work performance, safety, and your health can all be affected by losing out on precious hours of rest. While your morning latte may help you work through a lack of sleep, ultimately your body will not be able to keep up. For ultimate health, plan to get the allotted amount of time, even if it means cutting back on your social schedule.
Insomnia is More Than Just Having Trouble Falling Asleep
While insomnia is often characterized as having difficulty making the initial transition into sleep, it can also mean waking up too early and not falling back to sleep, feeling unrefreshed after sleeping, or waking up frequently throughout the night. If you can relate to any of these symptoms and find yourself being frustrated with your sleeping patterns, you are in luck. Insomnia is treatable.
Sleep is Important for Your Health
While you may notice that sleep ties directly to your mood, studies have also shown that a lack of sleep can be directly linked to obesity, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes. Sleep is also a time for your brain to “recharge” after the day. Without regular sleep, you may be putting more than your mood at risk.
If you can relate to being one of the 42 percent of people that don’t sleep well every night, the above facts may be unsettling. If you try to get the recommended amount of sleep, but find yourself lying awake, it’s time to get some help. Talk to your doctor, and look for sleep aide remedies such as NightWave to help you get your sleep, and your health, back on track.
22 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Sleep
a list of 22 of the most interesting and surprising facts about sleep that you may not know.
1. 12% of people dream entirely in black and white
Before colour television was introduced, only 15% of people dreamt in colour whilst older people dream in black and white more often than younger people. It’s all here in this study
2. Two thirds of a cat’s life is spent asleep
This will come as no surprise to most cat owners. Usually found on your favourite seat or computer keyboard.
3. A giraffe only needs 1.9 hours of sleep a day, whereas a brown bat needs 19.9 hours a day
See the amount of sleep other animals need here, including ferrets, cheetahs and three-toed sloths.
4. Humans spend 1/3 of their life sleeping
This obviously differs depending on the age of the human, but on average it’s around a third, which is quite a lot when you think about it.
5. The record for the longest period without sleep is 11 days
This was set by a Californian student named Randy Gardner in 1964. This is definitely not recommended, however, as Randy experienced extreme sleep deprivation and others have died staying awake for this long.
6. It’s not uncommon for deaf people to use sign language in their sleep
There are many instances where people have reported their deaf partners or children using sign language in their sleep.
7. Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning
11. 1 in 4 married couples sleep in separate beds
Dr Sarah Brewer told us why this might actually be a good thing.
12. Sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation
18. Ideally, falling asleep at night should take you 10-15 minutes
If it takes you less than five minutes, chances are you are sleep deprived.
19. Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep
How nice it must be to just be able to go to sleep whenever and wherever you are!
20. Sleeping on your front can aid digestion
21. High earners (£65 – £75,000) get the best sleep
This comes from a report by The Sleep Council. I would certainly sleep better if I earned that much money!
22. Fear is said not to be the main emotion in nightmares
Why Sleep Awareness Is Important
The National Institutes of Health estimates that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. Sleep disorders are common in both men and women; however, important disparities in prevalence and severity of certain sleep disorders have been identified in minorities and underserved populations. The cumulative effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders represent an under-recognized public health problem and have been associated with a wide range of health consequences including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression, heart attack, stroke, and at-risk behaviors – all of which represent long-term targets of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and other public health agencies.
March has been designated National Sleep Awareness Month. One part of sleep awareness is knowing how our sleep may be affected by changes in the environment.
4 Personal Tips to Set Up for Sleep Success
1. Wash away the day
We are energy magnets throughout the day — both the good vibes and the not so good. For me, I like to physically wash the day away as well as visualize releasing any energy that is no longer necessary literally going down the drain.
Whether washing your face or taking a shower or bath, take a moment to visualize the water clearing away the energy of the day. As you dry yourself off, take a few intentional deep breaths.
2. Choose a ritual
Whether lighting a candle, enjoying a cup of tea, burning some incense or playing relaxing music, choose a physical act to prep your space and mark the act of entering the sleep zone. I have a selection of scented sprays that are simply a combination of essential oils and water. I like to use the lavender or rose spray to both energetically clear and infuse a relaxing vibe.
Treat yourself to your an intentional (and visual) “turn down” service. As you move the pillows, fold back the covers, etc, visualize yourself having an uninterrupted and peaceful night’s sleep.
3. Power down
No surprise that experts encourage us to power down in the evening. For me, I try to power down at least two hours before I intend to go to bed. But let’s be honest, it simply doesn’t always happen, so I try to at least choose the technologies where I can let the work day go (i.e.: my laptop, checking email, Facebook, etc). That way, if I just HAVE to watch one more episode of House of Cards before I go to bed or if I want to listen to relaxing music or a guided meditation, then I am at least using the technology intentionally.
Whether or not you are able to power down right before bedtime, be mindful to take at least 5 deep relaxing breaths as you lay your head down for the night.
4. Cultivate gratitude
Practicing gratitude in the evening is a great way to put our day into perspective. You can write it down or simply think it to yourself.
Write down or think of three things you are grateful for. I usually think of one thing I am grateful for about a loved one, one thing about someone I may be experiencing a challenging time with, and one thing for myself.
Common Sleep Disorders
People with insomnia have trouble falling or staying asleep for a number of reasons – some of which can be controlled and others that can’t. For example, if you are excited about a new activity or worrying over bills, you may have trouble sleeping. Insomnia may also be a side effect of a medication or an illness.
Symptoms of insomnia include:
- Taking a long time to fall asleep;
- Waking up many times in the night;
- Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep;
- Waking up tired; or,
- Feeling very sleepy during the day.
If you think you have insomnia, talk to your health care provider.
- 2. Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea causes short pauses in breathing while sleeping. These pauses may happen many times during the night and if the condition is not treated, sleep apnea can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke. Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed through a sleep study in a laboratory or at home.
- 3. Restless Leg Syndrome
People with restless legs syndrome (RLS) feel like there is tingling, crawling, or pins and needles in one or both of their legs and the sensations increase at night. Repositioning one’s legs or taking a walk can bring some temporary relief, but in many cases symptoms must be treated with medication. RLS is especially prevalent in older people and tends to run in families.
- 4. Narcolepsy
Narcolepsy is a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep. People with narcolepsy regularly find it difficult to stay awake for long periods of time, regardless of the circumstances or time of day. Narcolepsy is a dangerous disease because an onset of excessive sleepiness or a sleep attack may occur at any time – even while eating, walking, or driving. There is no cure for narcolepsy. However, consulting a doctor, making lifestyle changes, and taking medications can help manage the symptoms.
25 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT SLEEP
National Sleep Foundation has created a list of 25 random facts about sleep. But we’re not restricting this information to our 25 closest friends. Share it with everyone you know!
- Man is the only mammal that willingly delays sleep.
- The higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and accompanying changes in respiration. Most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.
- In general, exercising regularly makes it easier to fall asleep and contributes to sounder sleep. However, exercising sporadically or right before going to bed will make falling asleep more difficult.
- Divorced, widowed and separated people report more insomnia.
- Six in ten healthcare professionals do not feel that they have enough time to have a discussion with their patients about insomnia during regular office visits.
- More than eight in ten survey respondents think that people often or sometimes misuse prescription sleep aids.
- Caffeine has been called the most popular drug in the world. All over the world people consume caffeine on a daily basis in coffee, tea, cocoa, chocolate, some soft drinks, and some drugs.
- In general, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten hours.
- We naturally feel tired at two different times of the day: about 2:00 AM and 2:00 PM. It is this natural dip in alertness that is primarily responsible for the post-lunch dip.
- Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise.
- According to the International Classifications of Sleep Disorders, shift workers are at increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases.
- Newborns sleep a total of 14 to 17 hours a day on an irregular schedule with periods of one to three hours spent awake.
- When infants are put to bed drowsy but not asleep, they are more likely to become “self- soothers,” which enables them to fall asleep independently at bedtime and put themselves back to sleep during the night.
- Eighty-two percent of healthcare professionals believe that it is the responsibility of both the patient and the healthcare professional to bring up symptoms of insomnia during an appointment.
- The body never adjusts to shift work!
- There are individual differences in the need to nap. Some adults and children need to nap. However, the majority of teenagers probably nap in the afternoon because they are not sleeping enough at night.
- Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for approximately 90 million American adults; 37 million on a regular basis.
- Scientists still don’t know — and probably never will — if animals dream during REM sleep, as humans do.
- Some studies show promise for the use of melatonin in shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and reducing the number of awakenings, but not necessarily total sleep time. Other studies show no benefit at all with melatonin.
- One of the primary causes of excessive sleepiness among Americans is self-imposed sleep deprivation.
- According to the results of NSF’s 2008 Sleep in America poll, 36 percent of American drive drowsy or fall asleep while driving.
- According to the results of NSF’s 2008 Sleep in America poll, a surprising 34 percent of respondents reported their employer allows them to nap during breaks and 16 percent provide a place to do so.
- People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to the fact that their leptin levels (leptin is an appetite-regulating hormone) fall, promoting appetite increase.
- Rates of insomnia increase as a function of age, but most often the sleep disturbance is attributable to some other medical condition.
- And did you know seasonal affective disorder is believed to be influenced by the changing patterns of light and darkness that occur with the approach of winter?
10 Reasons Kids Need Sleep
To help parents understand why bedtimes matter and to arm them with information for the next argument over why their child has to go to bed, here are ten reasons children need sleep to thrive.
1. It Gives Their Body a Break
Sleep is like a daily spa vacation for the body. It is a time when cells rejuvenate, muscles rebuild, and our bodies restore themselves. Without sleep, our bodies don’t have the downtime they need to keep themselves active and agile for the next day’s activities.
2. It Lets Their Brain De-clutter
Although there is still much to be learned about what happens in our brains while we sleep, research indicates that sorting, storing, and filing away information, memories, and experiences may be one of the central functions our brains perform during sleep. Without sleep, it’s a clutter, disorganized mess.
3. It Helps Regulate Emotions
Anyone who has spent an afternoon with a tired toddler knows that the most pleasant child, or adult for that matter, can turn as prickly as a cactus if they don’t get enough sleep. Being overtired can make it difficult to manage our emotions and everyday things can make us cranky, irritable, and too grumpy to be around company.
4. It Helps Them Grow
While scientists haven’t proven a distinct connection between sleep deprivation in children and stunted growth, there is a connection between sleep and the release of growth hormones. Getting enough sleep guarantees that our bodies are producing the right amount of hormones and chemicals at the right times to keep us growing and going strong.
5. It Builds Up Their Resistance
Getting enough sleep seems to boost your immune system or rather not getting enough sleep seems to hurt your immune system’s ability to respond, according to researchers in Brazil. They found that the white blood cell counts of rats dropped by 20% when they were deprived of sleep. That’s a heck of a hit to take in the middle of cold and flu season.
6. It Protects Their Mental Health
New research shows there may be a link between persistent sleep difficulties in childhood and mental health problems like depression, anxiety disorders, and alcohol abuse later in life. Additional research needs to be done to further prove these new theories, but in the meantime, making sure children get the sleep they need is a critical part of keeping them healthy, either way.
7. It Helps Them Make and Keep Friends
Just as emotional regulation suffers when we are sleep deprived, so do our relationships with other people. A recent study showed that many children who display aggressive behaviors in school and bully other children are simply not getting enough sleep. Give your child a great start at building relationships by helping them build great sleep habits.
8. It Helps Them Stay Healthy
Another area of study in sleep medicine is the potential link between not getting enough sleep and gaining weight and the preliminary findings are not good. Not getting enough sleep may be a huge factor in weight gain, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems.
9. It Lets Them Learn
When you are tired you have more trouble paying attention, are less able to acquire and process new knowledge, struggle with critical thinking, and are often unable to effectively store and retrieve information from our memory. All of these things are critical components of learning and kids who are over tired and sleep deprived won’t have access to the mental faculties they need to learn the basic skills they need to have.
10. It Gives Them Energy
The verdict is still out on how sleep and energy are related, but the cause and effect is pretty clear in our kids. When they don’t get enough sleep, they lack energy. This can cause serious problems if they are active in sports teams, after school activities, or other pursuits that require a sustainable supply of energy.
The 7 Reasons Your Kid Needs Sleep
1. Sleep promotes growth.
You’ve probably had mornings where you’ve sworn your baby got bigger overnight, and you’d be right. “Growth hormone is primarily secreted during deep sleep,” says Judith Owens, M.D., director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center, in Washington, D.C., and a Parents advisor. Mother Nature seems to have protected babies by making sure they spend about 50 percent of their time in this deep sleep, considered to be essential for adequate growth. Italian researchers, studying children with deficient levels of growth hormone, have found that they sleep less deeply than average children do.
2. Sleep helps the heart.
Experts are learning more about how sleep protects kids from vascular damage due to circulating stress hormones and arterial wall — damaging cholesterol. “Children with sleep disorders have excessive brain arousal during sleep, which can trigger the fight-or-flight response hundreds of times each night,” says Jeffrey Durmer, M.D., Ph.D., a sleep specialist and researcher in Atlanta. “Their blood glucose and cortisol remain elevated at night. Both are linked to higher levels of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease.”
3. Sleep affects weight.
There’s increasing evidence that getting too little sleep causes kids to become overweight, starting in infancy. One study from Penn State Children’s Hospital has shown that when parents are coached on the difference between hunger and other distress cues and begin to soothe without feeding — using such techniques as swaddling and swinging — babies are more likely to be sound sleepers, and less likely to be overweight. Better yet? This coaching can begin when babies are 2 weeks old. The study followed the babies for a full year, and found that when parents used these techniques, it paid off. “Our intervention was the first to show that babies could actually be leaner in the first year,” says Ian Paul, M.D., lead author and professor of pediatrics at Penn State College of Medicine.
That’s key, because the sleep-weight connection seems to snowball. When we’ve eaten enough to be satisfied, our fat cells create the hormone leptin, which signals us to stop eating. Sleep deprivation may impact this hormone, so kids keep right on eating. “Over time, kids who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese,” says Dorit Koren, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist and sleep researcher at the University of Chicago.
Worn-out kids also eat differently than those who are well rested. “Research has shown that children, like adults, crave higher-fat or higher-carb foods when they’re tired,” Dr. Koren says. “Tired children also tend to be more sedentary, so they burn fewer calories.”
4. Sleep helps beat germs.
During sleep, children (and adults) also produce proteins known as cytokines, which the body relies on to fight infection, illness, and stress. (Besides battling illness, they also make us sleepy, which explains why having the flu or a cold feels so exhausting. It forces us to rest, which further aids the body’s ability to heal.) Too little sleep appears to impact the number of cytokines on hand. And it’s been found that adults who sleep fewer than seven hours per night are almost three times more likely to develop a cold when exposed to that virus than those who sleep eight or more hours. While there’s little data on young children, studies of teens have found that reported bouts of illness declined with longer nightly sleep.
More Sleep Benefits
5. Sleep reduces injury risk.
Kids are clumsier and more impulsive when they don’t get enough sleep, setting them up for accidents. One study of Chinese children found those who were short sleepers (i.e., fewer than nine hours per night for school-age children) were far more likely to have injuries that demanded medical attention. And 91 percent of kids who had two or more injuries in a 12-month period got fewer than nine hours of sleep per night.
6. Sleep increases kids’ attention span.
Children who consistently sleep fewer than ten hours a night before age 3 are three times more likely to have hyperactivity and impulsivity problems by age 6. “But the symptoms of sleep-deprivation and ADHD, including impulsivity and distractibility, mirror each other almost exactly,” explains Dr. Owens. In other words, tired kids can be impulsive and distracted even though they don’t have ADHD. No one knows how many kids are misdiagnosed with the condition, but ruling out sleep issues is an important part of the diagnosis, she says. For school-age kids, research has shown that adding as little as 27 minutes of extra sleep per night makes it easier for them to manage their moods and impulses so they can focus on schoolwork. Kids with ADHD also seem to be more vulnerable to the effects of too little sleep. Parents are almost three times as likely to report that their child with ADHD has a hard time falling and/or staying asleep than parents whose kids don’t have ADHD, says Dr. Owens.
7. Sleep boosts learning.
A baby may look peaceful when he’s sleeping, but his brain is busy all night long. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have shown that newborns actually learn in their sleep: Investigators played certain sounds for sleeping newborns, followed with a gentle puff of air on their eyelids. Within 20 minutes, the sleeping babies — who were between 1 and 2 days old — had already learned to anticipate the air puff by squinting. And as for that twitching all babies do as they snooze? It seems to be how their nervous system tests the connection between the brain and muscles.
Sleep aids learning in kids of all ages, and education experts are finding that naps have a particular magic. Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst taught a group of 40 preschoolers a game similar to Memory. Then the kids took a nap (averaging 77 minutes) one week and stayed awake the other week. When they stayed awake they forgot 15 percent of what they’d learned, but when they napped they retained everything. The kids scored better on the game not only after they’d just woken up but the next day too.
Making sure families get enough sleep isn’t easy, especially with parents working longer hours, more elaborate after-school activities, bedrooms full of cool electronics, and the pressure to pack more into every day. “We’ve done a good job of teaching parents about why kids need to exercise and eat healthy foods,” says Dr. Corkum. “Still, the simple fact is that kids sleep less today than they used to. And unless we make an effort to get that sleep time back, their health will suffer.”
Build a Better Bedtime
The nice news in all of this: From early on, there is plenty you can do to help your kids grow up loving their zzz’s.
- Encourage self-soothing. Try not to let your infant fall asleep while eating, and put her to bed when she’s still awake. By 3 months, you should slow your response time when she wakes up crying at night. By 6 months, when most babies typically sleep through the night, consider giving up the monitor if your room isn’t very far away. Or you can turn the volume down. You’ll be less tempted to rush to your fussing baby, and she’ll be more likely to drift back to sleep on her own.
- Create a solid routine. Children should have a consistent bedtime ritual by 3 months that lasts no more than 30 to 40 minutes, bath included, says Dr. Mindell. And for kids up to age 10, make sure bedtime is before 9 p.m. “Children who go to bed after 9 p.m. take longer to fall asleep, wake more often at night, and get less sleep overall,” she says. Dr. Durmer also suggests sticking with the usual bedtime sounds, like recorded ocean waves or a fan, and favorite sleep-time objects, such as a special blanket or pillow.
- Set the stage for sleep. Try to maintain the same temperature and level of light in your child’s room, even when on vacation, says Dr. Durmer. Shut off screens too, because research is mounting about the light generated by computers and tablets: Just two hours of screen time right before bed is enough to lower levels of melatonin — a chemical that occurs naturally at night and signals sleep to the body — by 22 percent. Ditch devices after dinner.
- Add another bedtime story. You already know reading to kids helps them learn, but hearing storybooks is a great way for kids to head off to dreamland. “Of all activities, reading printed books appears to be most relaxing,” says Michael Gradisar, a clinical psychologist at Flinders University, in Adelaide, Australia.
- Run a sleep audit. It makes sense to periodically measure your child’s sleep time, especially if you’re seeing trouble signs. (Alas, you’ll need to do it the old-fashioned way: Wearable trackers can make mistakes with anyone, but they’re especially inaccurate on kids, who move around more in all stages of sleep. A study found that one such device underestimated kids’ sleep by an average of 109 minutes.)
“Parents may not identify a kid’s daytime meltdowns as a sleep-related problem,” says Ancy Lewis, a sleep coach in White Plains, New York. “However, when they track their child’s sleep and make a consistent effort to get him to bed an hour earlier for a week, the problems get much better.” This is especially helpful for preschoolers, who are transitioning away from naps. For older kids, each school year brings new activities and demands. Red flags include dozing off in front of the TV or in the car.
Special Needs and Sleep: A Connection
Children who have special needs often also have undiagnosed sleep-disordered breathing, including apnea and snoring, as well as multiple sleep-related disorders, says Dr. Jeffrey Durmer. Kids who snore are twice as likely to have a learning impairment; nearly two thirds of children with Down syndrome have sleep apnea. What’s more, anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of children who have autism spectrum disorder also have sleep problems, such as greater difficulty falling asleep and waking up more often during the night.
“Children who have special needs are more vulnerable to outbursts when they have changes in their sleep patterns,” says sleep coach Ancy Lewis, who has a son with special needs. “Sleep deprivation can worsen any challenges that these kids face.” So a regular sleep routine is even more important. In fact, a recent study concluded that providing families of children with autism with just an hour of individual coaching or four hours of group sleep coaching helps these kids sleep more consistently.
Between 20 and 30 percent of children have experienced sleep problems, says Dr. Jodi Mindell. As many as 40 percent of kids have sleepwalked at least once, usually between the ages of 2 and 6, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And up to 6 percent may have night terrors. Some issues — like snoring — may seem harmless but can be a concern, so talk to your doctor if your child snores more than three nights per week.
The Best Baby Sleep Tips Ever
Baby Sleep: When to Let Your Baby Cry It Out
The biggest lesson I learned when I became a mom: Nothing is predictable–except for a shortage of shut-eye. “It’s a given that babies get up a lot during the first three months, and it’s important to have realistic expectations,” says Harvey Karp, M.D., creator of the DVD and book, The Happiest Baby on the Block.
By now, you’ve heard the basic tips for making those 2 a.m. wake-up calls more bearable: You know to keep the lights low and feed your baby before you hit the sack. So what else can you do? Get clued in to some lesser-known nighttime survival strategies.
Don’t make eye contact.
You probably know to nix playing or singing during those wee-hour feedings, but you should also avoid gazing into your baby’s eyes late at night. “When your baby locks eyes with you, it’s almost like she’s drinking a double latte-her heart rate speeds up, her blood pressure rises, and she becomes more awake,” says Alan Greene, M.D., author of From First Kicks to First Steps. Do make plenty of eye contact during the day so she knows it’s time to be awake (plus, it boosts brain development and bonding).
Regulate the temp.
You know how you sleep better when the room’s a little cooler? Well, your bundle of joy is no different. Keep your baby’s room warmer during the day and cooler at night, Dr. Greene suggests. The optimal temperature for infant sleep is between 65 and 70?F. If you don’t have a thermostat you can control, leave the window slightly open or use a fan at night. (Just make sure your baby sleeps far away from windows and fans, and that the room never gets too hot or too cold.)
Light is one way to regulate babies’ (and adults’) circadian rhythm–the body’s internal clock. Plug your lamps into dimmer units (available at hardware stores), and when the sun goes down in the evening, lower the lights–even if your baby isn’t going right to bed. To reinforce these rhythms, make sure your home is brightly lit during the day, even if he’s napping.
Make some noise.
Don’t give your child the silent treatment. “Amazingly, the sounds they heard 24/7 in the uterus were about twice as loud as a vacuum cleaner, so babies love and need strong rhythmic noise,” Dr. Karp says. Use a white-noise machine, a radio tuned to transmit static, or a nature-sounds CD?or let her sleep near the dishwasher.
Do the swing thing.
If you swaddle and use white noise and your baby’s still waking up every hour or two, add the swing to the mix. Put your swaddled baby in the reclined seat and buckle her in. “It’s a myth that you’re starting a bad habit,” says Dr. Karp, who adds that fewer than 5 percent of babies need the swing technique. You can gradually stop using it when she’s better able to soothe herself.
Cut the caff.
You know too much java can rev you up and leave you wide-eyed. It can do the same for your little one if you’re breastfeeding. Caffeine from coffee and soda can turn up in breast milk. “A large coffee drink can provide enough caffeine to affect a newborn,” Dr. Greene says. “It accumulates in his body quickly and stays with him longer than it does with you?about 96 hours.”
Fill ‘er up.
Starting at around 5 p.m., decrease the time between your child’s feedings. For example, if you usually feed her every three hours, do so every two hours in the evening. “This strategy gave my daughter a full stomach before I put her to bed and helped her sleep four- to five-hour stretches by week three,” says Louise Johnson, a mother of two from Norwalk, Connecticut.
Give diaper duty a rest.
The truth is, you don’t have to change your baby with each feeding. “If the diaper isn’t soaked through or soiled and your child doesn’t have extra-sensitive skin or existing diaper rash, skip this step,” suggests Michel Cohen, M.D., author of The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent. Just use absorbent nighttime diapers and a thick diaper cream to protect his skin.
Many breastfeeding babies nurse less avidly at night, so it’s not a must to wait (and wait) for that little gust of air. “At night, she’ll probably be eating more slowly and therefore swallowing less air–so burping usually isn’t necessary,” Dr. Cohen explains. See how your child does without the burp; skipping just one step in the feeding routine can give you some extra shut-eye.
Hit the bottle.
If your breastfeeding newborn wakes often, make it a goal to get him used to drinking your pumped breastmilk from a bottle so you and your spouse can trade off feedings. By sharing the night shift, you both get to enjoy longer stretches of sleep.
Make over your room.
Everyone’s heard about using blackout shades in the baby’s room, but put them in your own too. You’ll sleep better at night, later in the morning, and snooze more easily during the day while your baby’s napping.
Do a quick spa treatment.
Studies done at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine found that newborns who had a bedtime massage fell asleep faster and slept more soundly than those who didn’t have one. Before bed, give your child a 15-minute massage using slow strokes, moderate pressure, and a baby-safe oil.
One way to get into–and pass on–a mellow mood late at night? “Slow down your breathing. It sends your baby a signal to be calm,” explains Georgia Witkin, Ph.D., author of The Female Stress Survival Guide. To pace yourself, use headphones to listen to music that’s slower than your heartbeat (anything with fewer than 70 beats per minute, like a ballad), then breathe to the rhythm.
Give her a cozy sleep spot.
A bassinet can be moved into your bedroom and may improve the quality of your newborn’s snoozetime. “Babies tend to sleep better in bassinets partly because they feel safer and more enclosed there, and partly because they’re closer to their parents,” Dr. Greene says. A co-sleeper can have the same effect.
See the light.
When it’s time to rise and shine, get into bright light ASAP. “Exposure to light tells your biological clock that you should be alert,” explains James B. Maas, Ph.D., author of Remmy and the Brain Train: Traveling Through the Land of Good Sleep. Head out for a walk with your baby or sit with her by a sunny window. It’ll stimulate both of you?and help you remember the one other thing that’s predictable about motherhood: No matter how tough the night shift is, the sun will come up tomorrow.
So how do you prevent your teens from being sleep deprived? Here are 10 effective tips to getting your sleep deprived teen to sleep better.
1. Make your teen’s bedroom a quiet place
Make sure they turn off their computer before they get in bed. Also make sure to urge your teen to shut off all headphones and music electronics. Contrary to what they believe, heavy metal isn’t helping them get quality sleep. If your house is loud at night recommend earplugs for your teen.
2. Recommend a hot soak before bed
Try to keep your teen’s room cool (about 68 F). A study found that sleep occurs faster when the body cools down. It’s common for us to wake up when the room gets hotter.
3. Consider blacking out their windows at night
Advise your teen to keep their door shut when they go to bed. Turn their clock to face the wall so they don’t make it a habit to check the time while they’re in bed. You can also buy them a lightweight and comfortable sleep mask that prevents light entry.
4. Get them in the habit of bringing light in when they wake
Tell your teen to open the shades or turn on the lights when they wake. The early light of the day helps them “reset” their brain to push their bedtime to an earlier hour.
5. Get your teen to “chill out” before bedtime
If your teen is frequently stressed out, recommend that they do yoga or meditation to help them ease their racing thoughts. Going to bed worried decreases the quality of their sleep, so recommend relaxation techniques for your teen. If they have a problem relaxing, then the issue should be checked out by a doctor.
6. If they’re sick, put them to bed
Make sure to put teens in bed early when they’re ill. Not only is it the fastest way to recover, but also helps teens better prepare for the next day of school.
7. Consider giving them high-carb snacks if they have trouble falling asleep
In the book Smart Cookies Don’t Get Stale, dietitians Catherine Christie, PhD, and Susan Mitchell, PhD, recommend that eating high-carb snacks before bed does the trick. These snacks make you warm and sleepy. Consider trying these snacks out: pretzels, cereal, graham crackers, fresh fruit, dried fruit, fruit juice, vanilla wafers, saltines, popcorn, or toast with jam or jelly.
8. How about a night scent?
Christie and Mitchell also recommend aromatherapy to boost sleep. Orange blossom, marjoram, chamomile, and lavender scents are some examples of soothing smells for bedtime.
9. Set rules of no caffeine a couple of hours before bedtime
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes teens forget that caffeine can be hidden in some of their favorite sodas and snacks. Make sure to get your teen into the habit of monitoring caffeine intake throughout the day. If they’re craving something hot to drink, then recommend a warm cup of herbal tea. One or two strong cups of tea can help them mellow out.
10. Are there other issues that keep your teen up at night?
If you tried almost everything on this list and still can’t seem to get your sleep deprived teen to develop a healthy sleep habit, then it’s worth exploring what the underlying causes are. If they are taking medications, ask their doctor if their medication might be interfering with their sleep.
Gifts For People Who Love Sleep More Than Life Itself