Do you remember the days when you used to argue with your parents about staying up for one more hour? Oh, what we would do to go back to them days.
We love our sleep, and appreciate how important it truly is to get enough of it. To face the next day of more screaming, headaches and poop with the right attitude. But, it’s not only essential for us parents, but also very important for kids too.
In this article, we’ll dive into the facts around sleep, why it’s vital to receive the sufficient amount and tips to help that happen easier.
Why is sleep important?
‘With more than 40% of Australians not feeling well rested and constantly struggling with their day due to lack of sleep’, just goes to show how important it is for your body and well-being. Sleep needs to be taken seriously as part of your family’s health routine to help you all to look, feel and be your best.
Bodies and brains need sleep. It is vital for growth, learning, recovery and development. We all know that after having a good night’s sleep helps us to feel refreshed, happier and allows us to concentrate harder, as well as improving our behaviour (no more snappy and easily agitated mums! *phew*) Moreover, it’s the perfect time for your muscles to grow!
For parents, not getting enough sleep can make your body struggle to burn fat, as your body will start to slow down your metabolism, burning calories at a much slower rate. If your body thinks you’re staying awake, it will preserve your calories you’ve previously eaten, to sustain for the amount of time you’re staying up.
How much sleep do we need?
The amount of sleep we need. Really depends on your family’s lifestyle and age. Everyone is different, but as a guide we’ve found that these are sufficient overall amounts for your family within a 24 hour period:
Ages: 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours
Ages 1 to 2: 11 to 14 hours
Ages 3 to 5: 10 to 13 hours
Ages 6 to 13: 9 to 11 hours
Ages 14 to 17: 8 to 10 hours
Ages 18+: 7 to 9 hours
As we’ve established, sleep is important for your health, brain functions, safety, emotions and day-to-day functions. However, not getting enough sleep and/or not sleeping well, can affect how we all learn and behave in the following days. But what are the reasons behind not sleeping?
What gets in the way of our sleep?
We’ve all had nights where it feels impossible and frustrating to get off to sleep and there’s various reasons that factor into this. The most common reasons are health conditions, caffeine intake, jet lag, stress and the most common, screens.
‘It’s revealed that almost half of all children (43%) use digital devices before bedtime and one in four of these children (26%) report having sleep problems’. By using screens just before (and even into) bedtime, can affect yours and your child’s sleep. This is mainly due to reasons like wanting to stay up to play games, chat with friends and scroll social media, even to being disturbed by incoming texts, calls and notifications late in the night. Furthermore, the light from these screens can suppress melatonin levels causing sleepiness the next day, and stimulate you and your family, causing you all to stay up later.
Ways to help sleep
We’ve combined a list of techniques and strategies below, to help you and your family get the amount of sleep you all deserve.
- Set a digital bedtime – have no TV, phones or computer games 60-90 minutes before bed. Spend this time as a family relaxing instead.
- Have a space where all phones, iPads and computers go, so you can ensure no one is using these in bed and you will be able to do a quick screen count before you go to bed.
- Limit your caffeine and soda intake at least 3-4 hours before going to bed.
- Set a routine, by having regular bedtimes and wake times, helps your body and brain to function easier.
- Keep a diary and record your sleep. What did you do before bed? How did you sleep last night? By keeping a record, you’ll be able to identify patterns in your sleeping habits.
- Don’t do any vigorous exercise at least 1 hour before bed as it stimulates your brain and body and raises your body temperature. Instead, get the whole family practicing relaxing techniques like yoga, which will also help to reduce your stress and worry levels.
- Ensure your bedroom is comfortable for you. Take into consideration your lighting arrangements, temperature and noise around you.
Start to become aware of yours and your family’s sleep habits, once you start to notice what you can do better, you’ll soon start to notice everyone’s moods and habits changing for the better.