It’s 4 o’clock again….or today if I am lucky maybe, it’s 5. This is my life and this is sleep, as a busy mom and wife with lots of responsibilities. I know I’m not alone. I see far too many of my Facebook friends type the words on their status lines, #teamnosleep. Back to school time is always stressful. There are tons of changes, you have to decompress from a long summer, and no matter what, it seems like you are never ready. When I’m the only one in the house who is sleep deprived it’s one thing, but when the whole house is hasn’t gotten enough sleep, it’s a mess.
Do You Have These Nightmare Mornings
You know those mornings when almost everyone is in a bad mood. I can still remember dragging my daughter out of bed, telling her to get up 15 minutes ago and start getting ready. Yet of course, she is still in bed. There is silence coming from the upstairs bathroom and then bang–chaos. All of the suddenly everyone realizes that the last hit on the snooze button was actually 20 minutes ago and now they are running late. Everyone is running around, fighting over the iron, pushing each other out the way to get into the bathroom. Then getting in my car to take a long drive into the city, because my daughter missed both the train and the bus and there is no way she is going to make it to school on time if I don’t take her in. Now we are right in the middle of rush hour, in bumper to bumper traffic, and there are lots of “happy people” who are actually just as crabby and trying to get to work on time. Then pulling up to her school just in time, only to be told she left her lunch at home and now she needs lunch money. An hour later, I return home to a stack of work that needs to be done, and I am tired, frazzled and disgusted. Oh, the joys of motherhood!!
Why I’m Talking About Sleep
You probably weren’t expecting me to start a back to school tip with sleep, but it’s really the best place to start. Every where I go now, people are talking about sleep and it’s a topic for conversation for a good reason. Getting enough sleep is a BIG DEAL.
Why All The Fuss
When you talk about health, what comes up SLEEP. When you talk about your weight, what comes up SLEEP. Feeling depressed, sad, or overwhelmed, what comes up, SLEEP.
Sleep is important not just for you, but for your whole family. Sleep has a big effect on your health, because your body heals itself while you sleep. When you don’t get enough rest you are taxing your body and you are opening yourself up to unnecessary health problems.
When You Get More Sleep You Have A Better Attitude
Have you ever noticed that everything is better when you get a good night’s sleep. Your attitude is better. You can tolerate a lot more stress and it’s easier to keep the peace in your house and at work. Even when you are stressed, things don’t seem quite as bad when you are well rested. Kids are no different, we all work better with more sleep. I’ve seen it first hand, I’ve been working with young people for 9 years. When they don’t get enough sleep you can tell, they are harder to deal with and it’s harder to get them to think rationally. If there is any kind of conflict, tempers flare a lot faster and it’s harder to get everyone to calm down. Here is something that I didn’t know, maybe you didn’t either…
“Insufficient sleep is associated with a higher incidence of behavioral problems. Kids who are sleep deprived often have trouble getting along with others. They are more likely to be clumsy, have mood swings, have trouble concentrating, feel stressed and lack motivation. Poor sleep in school-age children might result in hyperactivity and poor academic performance.” – Terry Cralle, RN, MS, Certified Clinical Sleep Educator from the Better Sleep Council.
If you are not thinking about how much you and your family are sleeping, maybe you should. If you have a kid who is in the principals office every other day, this would be one of the first places I look.
If you are not paying attention to how much sleep you are getting you maybe ignoring one of the major contributors happiness. Think about it, sleep is an area that you actually have some level of control over.
You need to be able to nurture yourself in order to be a good mother, good at your job, good at servicing your community. I really believe women can do it all, but they can’t do it all at the expense of their health, their sleep, and their sense of well-being. – Arianna Huffington
How You Can Help Your Family Get More Sleep
If getting more sleep sounds like a dream come true but you don’t know where to start, I am going to share what worked for me. I was able to do this with my family and it made it easier for us to get more sleep and it also relieved a ton of stress.
Don’t Put It Off; Start Today
I am sure you’ve heard it before, practice makes perfect. I’ve tried this, it works! If you know that your kids need to go to bed at 9:00PM, and now they are going to bed at 11, start pushing up their bedtime by 45 minutes. Know that your family or at least a few members of your household are going to hate this idea. They will give you 100 excuses about why they shouldn’t have to go to bed early, make the change anyway (trust me when I say it will make your life so much easier later). Remember the goal is getting more sleep so everyone feels better.
Think About Dinner Eat Early Even If It Means Eating Out Or Getting Unconventional
Back to school means you need to prepare for the unexpected. There are going to be bunch of things you can’t control. When I decided to give myself a break about dinner, I felt 100 times better. One of the biggest barriers to bed time is dinner. When you come in late or you are running around all day figuring out dinner can be a real pain. You know there are going to back to school meetings, sports, meet ups, play dates, you know LIFE. Get a few gift cards for a take out spot you like, freeze pre-made meals, or make breakfast for diner. All of these things will make it easier to bed early.
Plan And Implement
Please repeat this to yourself, ” I AM NOT Superwomen”.
Pay attention to what is coming up on your calendar, think about what is going on at work, look at the sports schedule, extracurricular activities, and do as much planning as you can. You won’t be able to do everything just focus on being proactive. Think about what you need to change, so that your life isn’t crazy.
Put Everyone In The House On A Schedule – And Celebrate Success
When you figure out a way to make things fun, your family is more likely to go along with your plans. Start off by giving everyone a goal, even you. Have a family talk about it (you can even share why you think it is important). If you want to get more ambitious, journal your results so, you can talk about how much better you feel. Put together a sleep goal for everyone and create a schedule. Add some fun rewards for the family – like a family movie night, a sleep over for the kids, dinner at their favorite restaurant, this will help get everyone excited. Here is a list of how much sleep each of us need. Take a look to see how you and your family measure up. These are the amounts that come straight from the Sleep Foundation.
- Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
- Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
- Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
- Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
- School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
- Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
- Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
- Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
- Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)
For more great information from our friends at Restonic, check out this link.
Take A Look At Your Environment
Make it easy to succeed. Look around your house and especially your bedrooms. You want to get rid of anything that makes it harder for you and your family to get a good nights rest. Here are some great pointers I found for helping your children…
- “Letting a child choose a pillow, blanket, comforter, mattress or even wall colors can help empower a child to make good sleep health choices.” – Terry Cralle, RN, MS, Certified Clinical Sleep Educator.
- “Ensure your child’s bedroom is dark and quiet and the noise level in the house is low. White noise machines can be helpful in drowning out household or outside noises that may disrupt a child’s sleep. Black out curtains are helpful as well.” – Terry Cralle, RN, MS, Certified Clinical Sleep Educator.
- “If your child does not like a totally dark room, turn on a small night light – red or orange hue is best. Some nightlights have a timer and will turn off rather than stay on through the night.” – Terry Cralle, RN, MS, Certified Clinical Sleep Educator.
Think about how much noise is the room and even rethink those televisions (I know!!). Another important area that many people ignore is your bed. I had not idea that mattresses need to bed replaced as often as they do and our bed is in desperate need of an upgrade. A bad mattress can ruin a good’s night sleep. It can also really hurt your back and leave the rest of your body in pain. This is an easy problem to solve and it makes a BIG difference. When you think about going to bed you want to be relaxed. You want to do everything you can to make getting the proper amount of sleep as easy as possible. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You and your family will have to make changes along the way. Expect that and celebrate your successes.
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