Looking to get a better night’s sleep? Try this
No matter how early you get to bed, some nights, you’re left tossing and turning, unable to get a good night’s sleep. The key to this problem, according to experts, may be held right in your home.
A study published by the Physiological Society revealed that your level of exposure to light – be it from light bulbs or electronics – before bedtime can greatly affect your sleep.
It has to do with your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. In the morning, melatonin production is low; as day grows into evening, production is increased to help you fall asleep. Exposure to artificial light, however, can suppress the amount of melatonin made, thus inhibiting the feeling of sleepiness that helps you catch some zzzs.
Pre-school-age children were found to be particularly sensitive to light exposure in the hour leading up to bedtime.
“Parents sometimes wonder why it is so hard for them, and even harder for their children, to fall asleep,” says Dr. Innessa Donskoy, a pediatric sleep specialist at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill.
“It has so much to do with the habits you set for yourself and for your children prior to bedtime.”
Dr. Donskoy has provided these solutions to help your family get a good night’s rest:
Dim the lights — If you are reading to your child before bed (or doing reading of your own), dim the overhead light to create a calming atmosphere. If you do not have a dim switch, turn off the overhead and, instead, use a small lamp. When reading is done, be sure to turn off the lights.
Limit screen time — “Children and adults should avoid using electronic devices in the hour leading up to sleep,” says Dr. Donskoy. “If you still choose to use an electronic device, dim the screen and enable its blue light filter to avoid the blue wavelength light that, in particular, can be wake promoting.”
Use nightlights — When children wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom or to get a glass of water, they may run into bright light coming from the kitchen, hallway or your room. This can make it harder for them to get back to sleep because their melatonin production has just been interrupted. Incorporate nightlights around the house, instead; they will prevent that eye-scorching moment of coming out of a dark room into brightness and may save you money on electricity. Place nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and the kitchen.
“Making these small changes can improve your family’s sleep and help you get the rest you deserve,” says Dr. Donskoy.
Another common sleep problem is sleep apnea. Left untreated, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and more. Learn your risk.
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