Sleep is a truly wonderful thing. Get enough of it and it feels better than almost anything else on the planet. Don’t get enough however and the day ahead can be almost unbearable.
As the impact of the fast-paced modern world seeps into every facet of our lives, sleep disorders are impacting more and more of us – as a result the unbearable days seem to getting more frequent.
What’s worse sleep disorders are now affecting our children like never before. According to recent NHS data hospital attendances in England for children under 14 with sleep disorders have tripled in the last ten years.
In an often desperate attempt to get some sleep more and more people are turning to prescription sleeping pills.
Over the same ten year period ten times more prescriptions of common sleep medication melatonin have also been written for children and adults under 55.
However taking any form of sedative over a short or long term basis is risky and can lead to addiction. As a result it is not a road not everyone is willing to travel. And certainly not one most parents would like to see their children embark on.
Fortunately there are a host of natural alternatives to medication, these can be in the form herbal remedies, establishing healthy sleep routines, controlling what we eat and ensuring the home environment is conducive to sleep.
Below we are going to examine just a few natural ways you can improve your family’s sleep.
What we consume and when we consume it has a huge impact on well we sleep.
While very few parents would be happy to see their children knocking back expressos, not everyone realises that caffeine is heavily present in a host of other foods, including both fizzy drinks and chocolate. Two things almost all kids adore.
Avoiding these items completely will have a big impact on how well the entire family will sleep. But if going cold turkey seems too cruel a regime to inflict on the little ones, then steering the whole family away from coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate after lunchtime will still do wonders on how everyone sleeps.
And while there is a long list of foods to avoid, other foods actively promote sleep and can be worked into a family’s diet plan to improve sleep. These include the humble kiwi, bananas, almonds, sweet potatoes, yoghurt and the spice turmeric.
The exact reason these foods are good for sleep differs and in some cases isn’t exactly known. But all have been shown in studies to either improve the duration of sleep or accelerate how quickly individuals are able to fall asleep.
If we follow the doctor’s orders and get eight hours sleep a night, and we should, we will eventually spend a full one third of our entire lives in bed. Yet we spend so little time thinking about what we sleep on.
Ensuring that the family is sleeping on mattresses that are in good condition – that means they aren’t old and don’t sag in the middle – and are the right size for our bodies is essential. Feet by no means should be dangling off the end this will just lead to poor sleep posture and with it bad backs and sore necks.
Choosing the right mattress for the height and size of the individual sleeping in it is very important and getting it right will really improve how well you and your family members sleep.
This means if your teenage son is already six foot tall it may be time to move him out of the bunk bed. Sorry!
Your bedtime routine
The human body adores routine. A whole host of processes take place while we are asleep and without exception they all work more efficiently with regular unbroken sleep.
Keeping a regular bedtime is especially important for young children and teenagers whose brains are still developing at a rapid rate and require even more sleep than adults do.
One of the simplest and most natural ways to improve your family’s sleep is to establish a healthy bedtime routine and regular bedtimes. This basically involves working an hour of wind-down time in your schedule before bedtime.
The most essential component of good wind-down time is controlling the light the family consumes before bed.
The blue light emitted by the screens of our televisions, tablets and smartphones mimics the effect daylight has on our body and impairs the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep. The result is that we remain alert at the very time we want our brain’s to be winding down.
Avoiding screens an hour before bed will do wonders for your family’s sleep health. Installing dimmer switches on overhead lights and using ambient lighting such as lamps will have a similar impact. Go on a light diet before bed, if you will.
There you have it – three simple and natural ways that will dramatically improve how well our family sleeps and none of them involve handfuls of sleeping pills.