Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Welcome the Sandman

By: Jennifer Ripepi, MD

Sleep is really important, isn't it? Many of us have been sleep deprived for various reasons and lengths of time in our lives. We know how much better we feel when we've had a good night's sleep or a refreshing nap. Let's look at some ways to welcome the sandman into our homes to help our families have a sleep inducing environment for overall better health. I'll just touch on three factors that I recommend to my patients to help them to sleep better at night. These are tips I wish I knew when our children were young. I felt like between them not sleeping and frequently getting phone calls during the night, I never got enough rest. You can bet I'm catching up now!
  1. Bedrooms should be dark. We are adapted to be active during the day and let our massive brains sleep and recover at night. Our eyes are very sensitive to light but our world now is full of light. Many people have even brought more light into their bedrooms with TVs, computers, phones, and electronic tablets which all emit light that stimulates the primitive parts of our brains to perceive that it's still daytime. When our brains think this, we produce less melatonin (our sleep-inducing hormone). This may cause you to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Even when your eyes are closed you can sense light through your eyelids. Choosing to keep electronics off and lights dimmed for the hour before bed will help your brain produce melatonin.
  2. People also sleep better when bedrooms are cooler. Again, night is generally cooler than day on our Earth. We have been outside for most of our time as humans. It is only recently that we have been able to control our indoor climates. Even just a few degrees cooler is better for sleep. Choose to turn down the thermostat (if you can) and even think about cracking a window open a bit if it's safe for you. That fresh air may just be the ticket to improve sleep.
  3. Quiet. Silence is golden when it comes to helping our brains to fall asleep. I want to revisit the idea that we have changed our environment significantly. Our bodies developed into our present amazing form while we were living out in the wild. We needed quiet in order to be roused if there was any disturbance in the area which could be harmful to us or our families. Our modern brains still need that quiet both to respond immediately to danger and to rest and recover from our daytime tasks. Again, keeping electronics out of the bedroom and keeping sounds to a minimum can help.
You can also check out Choosy's song, Choosy Says Let's Rest, from the Choosy Kids CD "Our Special Time". It is a very calming song that can help children focus on resting. Scroll down after clicking the link to hear a sample!

If sleep is a problem for you or your family, I encourage you to try keeping your evening a little darker, a little quieter and calmer, and maybe a little cooler for about two to three weeks. Maybe it won't be a miracle cure but maybe it can help at least a bit.

What helps you fall asleep at night? How about your children?

About the Author: I have been a pediatrician for over 25 years. My husband and I have been privileged to raise 4 bright and healthy children. I have tried to gather wisdom from the families I have been blessed to meet during my journey. I believe in practical and flexible parenting to help raise healthy adults. I love to garden, hike, travel and cook and I am looking forward to hearing from Choosy followers.

23 comments :

  1. Both of my boys are like their mom and need a fan (white noise) to fall asleep! What ever works....

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  2. I completely agree with all of these, the trifecta of a good sleep haha

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  3. These are all great ideas. Choosy kids need rest and I believe having the room dark can be helpful

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  4. My son suffers a little bit from insomnia but we're working through it. Everything you said above is exactly what we do along with just keeping him calm at night and relaxed.

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  5. I don't have kids, but I do remember when I was a child - being read to always helped me fall asleep. It was that feeling of having someone "lull" me to sleep that comforted me.
    As an adult, I absolutely agree with these tips. I prefer it quiet and cool - and of course, silence is golden.

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  6. These are great ideas!! I still to this day fall asleep to the TV or music!

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  7. I used to play a tape of rain falling for my daughter when she was in middle school to help her relax.

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  8. great advice. Holding the stimuli before bed is good too!

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  9. These are definitely good ideas. A healthy bedtime environment makes all the difference in the world!

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  10. Such a great tips indeed :) Love these post. Thanks for sharing

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  11. I can never sleep with the lights on. I also love it when I'm wrapped up, I get cold easily!

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  12. Good tips! We often have a lot of bad habits that make it harder to sleep, and our sleep is so important.

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  13. Great post! Sleep has never been a problem to me or my kids :)

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  14. Great post. Could be useful for the kids at home.

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  15. Thank you for the great post! This will be great for kids at home!!

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  16. Jennifer Ripepi, MDFebruary 10, 2016 at 3:29 PM

    Thanks to all of you for your comments!If you do need white noise, my brother showed me a free white noise fan app which he uses when traveling.

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  17. These are great tips. We just transitioned our youngest to her bedroom, and we've used these for her. I think it's made a world of difference.

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  18. I didn't realize you sleep sounder if it's cool in the room. Very good to know.

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  19. I have to admit that I use all these great ideas already. I prefer a dark bedroom, but with a small night lamp that does not dominate much & then a fan sound even in cold weather & finally a silent atmosphere is what gives me a great sleep.

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  20. These are great tips. I have noticed that when I follow these, my kids (and myself) sleep so much better!

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  21. These are great tips. I notice that when we read instead of watching tv before bed, they fall asleep quicker.

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  22. Our bedroom is located on an area where cars pass by and sometimes we get disturbed by the noise of the engines. Perhaps I can have it sound-proofed? is that possible?

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  23. I agree with all of these. Two of my boys fall asleep with white noise, while I fall asleep fairly fast when I read.

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