Sleep ‘enriches our ability to learn, memorize, and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite.’ I learned about the importance of resting well when my college roommate at Sarah Lawrence took a course with Professor Meghan Jablonksi on the Psychology of Sleep and Health. The course examined sleep through a historical, developmental, neuropsychological, physiological and cultural lens. Therefore, comprehensively giving its students an incentive to spend less late nights at the library and be more regular in following a routine sleep cycle.
Here are my tips on how to make sure that both you and your child are better rested:
- Stay away from caffeine post noon – The consumption of caffeine (your daily tea or coffee, fizzy drinks, etc.) can actually delay your body clock. Caffeine blocks adenosine (your body’s natural sleep-inducing agent) and researchers at the Harvard Medical School have reported disruptive qualities (you will wake up multiple times a night) linked closely to the quality of your sleep (interrupted vs. uninterrupted).
- Exercise in the day to tire you out at night – As naturally energetic beings, humans require a sufficient level of activity in the day to tire them out at night. Exercise not only releases endorphins which put you in a better mood, it also physically exhausts you so that you can rest better each night!
- Set a bedtime routine which you follow religiously – Your mind is trained to follow a routine! In fact, this is a part of “sleep hygiene” – a term referring to healthy sleep habits (such as reading or no screens before bedtime) which help you fall and stay asleep. Did you know that CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is used for people who have chronic insomnia?
- Clock the hours of sleep you get each night – The average human requires between 7 to 9 hours of rest per night. Try to better understand your sleep patterns and the impact they have on your quality of sleep and levels of energy the next day. Do you wake up feeling well-rested or do you feel groggy, slow and sluggish? If you said yes to the latter, that means you require more sleep! Children require adequate sleep to fuel their (naturally high) energy levels.
- Create your sleep space – Is the temperature cool? Are your blinds down so as not to let sunlight in? Or do you prefer leaving them up so that you wake up naturally when it’s light out? Monitor the conditions that you need to get your best night’s sleep.