Poor Skippy. He’s going to have to sleep in the dog bed tonight.
It’s Monday and you’re probably tired, so I’ll keep this short.
This weekend, as always, I transitioned from being the sleep expert at work to the mom who barely sleeps at home. My two active boys keep me on my toes all day, and of course, I love every minute of it. You know the expression they grow up “in the blink of an eye?” Well, I also feel the same when I finally hit the sack every night — I wake up after just a “blink of an eye.”
There’s good news for us parents who lead busy lives and get less than six hours of sleep a night: it’s not just about quantity; quality counts, too. I’ve found that these seven steps have kept me from, well, pretty much spending all day, every day, just looking forward to going back to sleep.
1. Turn off the TV and any other lighted screens such as iPads, cell phones and e-readers in your bedroom at night. Researchers have been found that people who browse or watch or read on screens at night suppress the release of melatonin (a hormone linked to sleeping) for an hour and a half. We have a harder time falling to sleep and then it’s hard to get up in the morning.
2. Keep your pet out of the bedroom. Skippy and Spot won’t be able to ‘hog’ the bed space. Sorry, doggies (see above).
3. Try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed at night and waking up in the morning at the same general times keeps our circadian clock in rhythm.
4. Limit or stop drinking caffeine after 2 p.m. If you’re having trouble sleeping, then your diet may be affecting your sleep.
5. Sleep in a dark, aesthetically appealing, cool room. A sleep mask may help.
6. Look for signs of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is easily diagnosed and treatable. Signs to look for include loud snoring, waking up gasping for air, feeling fatigued during the day, being overweight, breathing through your mouth at night. Type-2 diabetes, hypertension or heart problems may also be signs of sleep apnea.
7. Seek professional help. If you feel you’ve tried to improve your sleep, but not getting there, then contact a sleep medicine physician for a consultation.
For more on determining if you’re sleep deprived and to learn about sleep’s impact on your health, click here.
Dr. Charu Sabharwal, a mother of two young boys, lives in Fairfax, Va. and is the Medical Director at Comprehensive Sleep Care Center. Dr. Sabharwal and CSCC have extensive knowledge in sleep and how it impacts health for people of all ages. If you’d like to know more about ways to improve your sleep, latest on sleep in the news, or about sleep studies, please feel free to contact us. Dr. Sabharwal available for interviews.
President, Ms. Media