Therapy & lifestyle

Transitioning your family’s sleep hygiene for fall

Labor Day has come and gone and that means one thing: summer is over. Days are growing shorter. Temperatures are starting to creep into brisk territory. The leaves are slowly turning every shade of red, yellow and orange.

As the sun starts to set earlier and rise later with the close of summer, you may find yourself going to bed a little later or reaching for the snooze button a bit more. You may not know it, but these changes in daily routine can have an adverse effect on your quality of sleep.

But don't panic! We'll tell you how to get a good night's sleep by making a few small adjustments to your family's daily routine. Let's go through a few, shall we?

Develop a regular bedtime routine

According to the American Sleep Association1, keeping a steady, regular routine before you hit the sack at night "can greatly increase the effectiveness of falling asleep and reduce inadequate sleep hygiene." They suggest engaging in a relaxing activity like reading, meditating, listening to soothing music or even unwinding in a warm bath. Parents, establish a routine for yourselves and your kids every night and help other family members stick to healthy sleep habits with scheduled activities and reminders.

Pick a sleep schedule and don't break it

It's easy to pick a specific time when you decide to call it a night and when you wake up. Keeping those times, however – on a consistent basis – is often difficult. There's a movie on that you can't turn away from. You want an extra hour of sleep in the morning. That new mystery novel you started is nearly impossible to put down and there's a soccer match on at 5am. But you've got to do your best to stay on schedule and help the rest of your household keep a consistent schedule as well.

Be active... during the day

A common misconception people have is that working out and exercising before bed will help them sleep. In theory that makes sense. Spending an hour or two in the gym testing your physical limits can wear you out, but it probably won't help you sleep. In fact, it usually does just the opposite. Hitting the weights hard before zonking out for the night "increases body temperature and mental alertness" says the American Sleep Association.2 Keep your workouts scheduled during the daytime to avoid lying awake at night counting sheep.

Relax your mind and let go of your day

A major key to keeping good sleep habits is to give your mind a break. Maybe the kids had extra sugar at lunch and can't settle down for a minute. Or perhaps your boss is hammering you to get those reports in on deadline, the car needs new tires, or you just discovered a leak under the sink. Whatever it is in your daily life that causes you stress and anxiety, you've got to turn your mind off to it before going to bed. How, you might ask?

There are all sorts of methods that can help settle your mind so you can enjoy a good night's sleep. Here are a few:

  1. Meditate. Meditating may be the best practice for turning off your mind so you can focus on relaxing.
  2. Journal. Before shutting your eyes, take note of everything that happened throughout the day, week or month. You'll be surprised how relieving it is to put your thoughts down on paper.
  3. White noise. It may sound strange, but a little white noise in the form of a fan or from an actual white noise machine may make all the difference between sleeping soundly and lying awake into the wee hours.
  4. Adjust the thermostat. No one wants to snooze in a room that's too hot or cold. Finding an ideal room temperature for sleeping is crucial for a good night's rest. If you're not sure, try a cooler temperature like 64 degrees Fahrenheit and see how it feels.
  5. Power down. Your laptop, phone, tablet, TV, whatever it may be – shut it down. Nothing disturbs restful sleep more than an annoying ringtone going off at 2:30 in the morning. Plus, research shows that blue light is a big disruptor of sleep2, so steer clear of it 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.

Talk to your doctor

If sleep constantly eludes you or you find that you're still tired throughout the day, you may have a sleep disorder. There are many types of sleep disorders that can interfere with how you feel each day. Obstructive sleep apnea, for example, is a common condition that can leave you feeling tired each morning. Your doctor can help diagnose sleep disorders and prescribe treatment, such as a CPAP machine, or they can give you advice on how to improve your sleep hygiene.

If the change of seasons is still causing a change in sleep, try using a sleep tracking app like SleepScore, powered by ResMed. Download the SleepScore app for your Apple® iPhone® on the App Store® or for your compatible Android™ smartphone on the Google Play™ store.*

 


* Android and Google Play are trademarks of Google, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Apple, App Store and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

1 ASA Editor M.D. Lifestyle changes. American Sleep Association (accessed September 2018).
2 ASA Editor, M.D. Inadequate sleep hygiene. American Sleep Association (accessed September 2018).
3 Harvard Health Letter. Blue light has a dark side. Harvard Health Publishing 2018.

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