With classes starting up soon across the country, kids and parents are gearing up for another school year. Summer can be carefree and easier to navigate when it comes to sleep, but the school year is a whole other animal. For parents and kids alike, quality sleep can be elusive.
When anyone misses out on sufficient sleep, it affects every part of your day. Just like diet and exercise, sleep is important for overall good health.
Are you getting enough sleep? If you think your sleep hygiene could use some tweaking, and you want to make it happen without spending too much, here are some tips and methods to ensure you can sufficient and restful slumber — and it doesn’t have to break the bank!
How Much Do Sleep Do We Need?
The inevitable question is how much sleep do we need? It’s actually a little different for everyone. On average, some studies show adults require seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Depending on their age, children require between eight to 16 hours of sleep, with infants needing the most and teens needing the least.
It’s important to understand the quantity of sleep doesn’t necessarily meet the needs of the sleeper. As ScienceDirect explains, those who have restless nights tend to feel groggy, regardless of how long they were actually asleep. People with generally poor quality sleep also tend to experience more sleep-related mental and physical health issues.
Children who experience sleep deprivation tend to be irritable, have difficulty waking in the morning, and they can have trouble concentrating at school. It’s similar for adults, who will find they’re more forgetful, irritable, moody, and even clumsy. Although daily exercise and what we eat are factors, sometimes it’s our environments and surroundings that contribute to poor sleep, which means you might need to change things up. To do so without destroying your budget, use weekly deals and coupons from retailers such as Walmart to keep costs low when purchasing new bed linens, pillows, or even softer lighting.
Too Little Means Big Trouble
Do you feel awake and alert throughout the day? Or, do you rely on a cup of coffee to jump start your mornings, a caffeine-laden soda with lunch, and a cappuccino for an afternoon boost? If the thought of trying to manage a day without stimulating beverages makes you weak in the knees, chances are you need more sleep. And VeryWellFamily notes the problem isn’t limited to adults; kids struggle with sleep deprivation as well.
When you or your kids run on too little sleep, it opens the door to trouble. Sleep deprivation can lead to health issues like obesity, a weakened immune system, trouble avoiding viruses, and mood swings. It can also leave you or your kids at risk for accidents and injuries. If your little one is having trouble falling asleep at night, consider using blackout curtains to help prevent street lamps or headlights from coming through windows. Also, good sleepwear will keep your kids comfortable and cozy throughout the night; take advantage of cashback rewards from Target and online deals to save some cash.
Ambiance on a Budget
One of the best things you can do to improve the sleeping habits of your family members is to improve sleeping environments, though you’ll want to do this without spending a fortune. Changing up a room can mean switching to a new mattress to making sure the bedroom itself is conducive to good sleep.
When it comes to turning your or your child’s bedroom into a sleep sanctuary, opt for restful colors and keep the room uncluttered and clean. Set the thermostat to a cooler temperature and choose comfortable pillows, mattresses and sheets. The National Sleep Foundation recommends setting the tone for a good night’s sleep by dimming lights (or using an inexpensive night light) an hour before turning in, and making a point to avoid electronics at least an hour before turning in.
Of course, changing bedroom ambiance can mean additional expenses that add up quickly. If new bed linens or a new paint color is required, you may be looking at a small investment — particularly if you’re redoing more than one room. Too avoid a shock to your wallet, you can rest easy if you employ a few smart shopping tips. To create a sleep sanctuary on a budget, use coupons and discounts for major online retailers like Amazon.
How to Get to Sleep
What you do leading up to going to bed can make a big difference in how well you sleep. For starters, it’s important to set a bedtime routine and stick to it every night – and that’s not just for the kids! It helps adults to go to bed at the same time, too, getting your body and mind into a rhythm. It’s also important to establish a time for rising every day. Before turning in, set a routine such as taking a warm bath, meditating, or reading a book. By doing the same restful activity each evening, you relax and help set your mind and body into sleep mode.
Anyone who has trouble falling asleep can benefit from some simple, inexpensive remedies to help pave the way for getting to sleep sooner. Some people find that a cup of chamomile tea (check out this list for the best brands for sleep) before bed or lavender-scented pillow spray can very helpful in drifting off. Other people turn to yoga or stretching to help prepare their bodies for sleep, which only require a budget-friendly mat to get started.
Sometimes insomnia can be related to other concerns, such as what you do during your daytime hours. Consuming too much caffeine or other stimulants can cause sleep issues, and not getting enough exercise or exercising late in the day can upset sleep. Look carefully at how you and your children spend your days to improve sleep at night.
If you find you’re consistently having trouble sleeping, keep a sleep journal for several weeks to track what you’re encountering. It could be something as simple as needing to avoid chocolate before bed, or finishing off a to-do list before turning in. If all else fails, speak to your doctor or look to alternative therapies. Some studies have shown people often benefit from acupuncture therapy.
You and your children need a good night’s sleep. Check your environment and habits and make changes as needed. Remember, don’t go overboard spending money, but do what you can to make the bedroom and your lifestyle perfect for quality sleep. And remember, good sleep hygiene is an important key to good health for everyone!
This is a guest post from Julia, a retired board certified nurse practitioner from BefriendYourDoc.org. There you’ll find tips that she has developed to help you be your own advocate in seeking medical care, dealing with insurance companies, and how to make sure you are contributing to your own health and well-being. Her best advice? Befriend your doctor!