This is a guest post by Ben Murray, a writer and researcher for sleep science hub Tuck.com. Hope you all find it useful!!!
"We all know that a good night's rest is important for our physical health and mental well-being, but the fact is that most people don't get enough sleep. A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that as many as 1 in 3 adults get less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. The problem isn't isolated to grownups, either; the Child Mind Institute notes that 60% to 70% of teenagers have 'borderline to severe sleep debt', and similar trends have been reported in many children ages 11 and younger.
Thankfully, there are simple measures you can take to help you and the rest of your family members get the nightly sleep that you need. Read on to learn more about some of these strategies.
Tip #1: Establish a Healthy 'Pre-Bedtime' Routine
The hours before bedtime are crucial for winding down and getting in the right frame of mind for a healthy night's sleep. One way to achieve this is to limit ― if not outright ban ― television, video games and other electronic forms of entertainment for at least one hour before your kids go to bed. Cutting down exposure to tablets, smartphones and other smaller devices is recommended too. The reason: each of these items emits what is known as 'blue light', which can suppress the production of melatonin, a natural hormone that helps regulate our sleep patterns. A good rule-of-thumb is to prohibit any blue-light-emitting device from your child's bedroom before they enter their teenage years ― and if you experience sleep issues, then it might be time to rethink that TV set in your bedroom, as well.
In place of electronics, experiment with activities that you, your spouse and your kids all enjoy. Board games, light exercise, or reading (of traditional spine-and-paper books) are all good alternatives. If your kids are young enough, then a good ol' bedtime story may also do the trick.
Tip #2: Install Adjustable Lights
Tablets and TVs aren't the only household items that emit blue light; LED and fluorescent light bulbs also produce blue light, along with another sleep-depriver known as 'artificial light'. Studies have found that artificial light on its own can reduce melatonin production by as much as 85%. Artificial light can also throw our sleep patterns out of whack because our natural 24-hour sleep cycle ― also known as of circadian rhythm ― is regulated in part by natural sunlight. One solution to this problem: adjustable overhead lights that you can dim in the hours before bed. Exposure to low-setting lights will make us feel naturally tired, so this may be a good idea for reading lights on bedside tables too.
Tip #3: Serve Healthy, Sleep-Friendly Meals
Certain minerals and nutrients found in everyday foods can induce feelings of sleepiness. The most obvious example is tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey that makes everyone groggy after Thanksgiving dinner has been served. Tryptophan is also found in chicken, beans, and dairy products. Whole grains rich in carbohydrates ― such as pastas, breads, bagels and crackers ― are a good supplement to tryptophan foods because they produce insulin, which accentuates the effect of tryptophan by reducing the impact of other amino acids.
Calcium and magnesium can also facilitate sleepiness before bed, so foods that contain both ― such as bananas and leafy greens ― are a good pre-bedtime option. Finally, many raw fruits ― especially tart cherries, grapes and pineapple ― can be a good source of melatonin, a hormone that is also produced in the human body that triggers feelings of tiredness.
This leaves you with several meal options that will help you and your family members sleep more soundly. These include whole-grain pasta topped with melted cheese, yogurt with fresh grapes, or chicken-and-bean burritos on whole-grain tortillas.
Tip #4: Evaluate Your Sleep Surface
For many adult and child sleepers, the mattress makes all the difference. Do you sleep on your side or back? Memory foam or latex mattresses will likely be your best bet because they feature an ultra-soft sleep surface that conforms to your figure and helps align your spine. Traditional innersprings, which do not conform to your body at all, are much firmer ― making them the most comfortable option for most growing children. If you share a bed with a partner, then consider a memory foam or latex mattress (as well as latex hybrids); these models are designed to reduce disruptive motion transfer, which occurs whenever someone shifts positions or gets up from bed. Innersprings cause much more motion transfer ― but they also sleep much cooler than other mattress types, and their bouncy surface is considered the best for sex.
Only you, your partner and your kids can decide which types of mattresses will work, and which ones won't. If you are in the market for a new mattress, be sure compare and contrast different mattresses models before buying ― and, if possible, visit a brick-and-mortar store to test out models in person."
Thanks for the post Ben!
Until next time,