The Science Behind a Perfect Night’s Sleep [Infographic]

Making sure that all members of the family are regularly sleeping well can have a huge impact on the overall happiness of family life, but with a range of ages, lifestyles and stress levels in one household it can be extremely challenging.

And it’s often only when our sleep pattern becomes disrupted that we realise just how important a good night’s sleep is. Getting a consistent amount of sleep every night is a challenge at the best of times, thankfully scientists have been concerned with sleep research for many years and the tips offered in the below infographic are based on years of research aimed at improving sleep quality.

But before we even consider how to get a good night’s sleep, it’s important to understand what a good night’s sleep is. The National Sleep Foundation recently explained exactly what a typical good night’s sleep is for an adult, with these four factors:

1. You take half an hour or less to fall asleep.

2. You wake up no more than once per night.

3. If you do wake up in the middle of the night, you fall back asleep within 20 minutes.

4. You’re asleep for at least 85% of the time you spend in bed.

While it’s important to take age in to consideration, generally if you are regularly meeting all four of these factors then in general you don’t have any problems with sleep. But if you or your family are regularly failing to meet one of the factors then it’s likely your sleep pattern has room for improvement.

For more information about the science behind a perfect night’s sleep check out the following infographic created by De Vere Hotels:

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Author’s Bio:

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Marcus Clarke is part of the content and community team at De Vere Hotels, who have a number of modern country estate hotels throughout the UK. Passionate about travel, Marcus has been lucky enough to travel all over the world, mixing business and pleasure.

 

Top Sleep Tips for Preschoolers

Recently a study was conducted comparing preschoolers sleep with their behavior later in their lives. It was found that by age 7, preschoolers who get too little sleep had markedly decreased mental and emotional functioning.  See more information about this study here.  Because of this, I decided to write this blog post with my top tips for helping preschoolers get better sleep.  If you read other of my posts, many of these tips will sound familiar, since many of these tips also relate to other aged children and adults as well.

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Do Not Rush To Take Away Naps
Many 3 year olds are still taking naps, and some 4 and even 5 year olds are as well.  I am usually not in a hurry to take the nap away.  If your child is still willingly falling asleep at naptime and still falling asleep at a reasonable hour for bed, I would let them continue napping.  If you do need to stop them from napping (for example if they are starting kindergarten), you will probably need to make bedtime earlier to account for the difference in amount of sleep they are getting.  If your child is no longer napping, I do recommend continuing quiet time, which you can learn more about here.

Make Sure Bedtime is Not Too Late
Children aged 3 – 5 years still need, on average, 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day.  If they are no longer napping, all that sleep should be occurring at night.  Therefore, if your child wakes around 7, they should be asleep no later than 7 or 8.  It also may sound strange, but a 3 year old who is napping, may actually have a later bedtime than a 4 or 5 year old who are not napping.  If bedtime is too late, children are more likely to be overtired and overtired normally sleep badly.  Children who are still napping should only be awake for between 4 and 5 hours between when they wake from their nap and when they are asleep at night.

Tame the Stalling Monster
Preschoolers are great at stalling at bedtime, naptime, and just about any other time of the day when they are asked to do something they may not want to do.  The first step to working on this is to make the bedtime routine relaxing, calm, and a little bit fun.  We do want bedtime to be a positive experience, never a punishment, so we want to make sure your child enjoys at least a part of it.  If your child is not into books, maybe a family sing a long would be a better idea?  Maybe your child can color or do puzzles instead of reading?  I do love having reading as part of the bedtime routine because it helps with literacy, but if your child really does not enjoy it, you can always read at another time of the day.  Kids love choices, so make sure they have some say in some parts of before bed activities.  Give them some choices, but not an infinite amount.  So give them 3 pairs of pajamas they can choose from, or pick out 5 or 6 books that they can choose 3 out of.  Also, try to plan for whatever your child may ask for.  Do they ask for water at bedtime or in the middle of the night?  Fill up a water bottle for them before bed, but tell them in advance if they will be allowed to fill it up again.  And stick to what you say!  Some children do well with some sort of chart or book that shows them the steps in their bedtime routine.

Do you have some great tips for helping preschoolers sleep?  Feel free to share them below!

 

Don’t Gamble With Your Children’s Health – Choose Your Next Mattress Based On Their Body Type

Today I am pleased to post a guest post by Lisa Reed of Somtex Sleep Lab.

If you’re a parent then you’ll know about the importance of making sure your child gets a great night’s sleep. When a child is deep in slumber, they grow, develop and recuperate. Studies have shown when they get a peaceful night’s sleep; they wake up with more focus and energy. Buying the right mattress is critical to helping your little one get the best rest they can, so they are happy and healthy.

The Benefits Of A Supportive Mattress

Children need more sleep than adults because it’s a pivotal time in their lives when their brains and bodies develop. Since they move around more in their sleep, they need extra support. A mattress that’s too soft may eventually mould to your child’s shape and restrict their movement, which can be dangerous. Firm mattresses are generally great for young children as the firmness of the mattress will ensure their spine and bones are supported. Since small children grow at an exponential rate, it’s important that their sleep is undisrupted. A supportive mattress will help to stop them from fidgeting so they sleep easily. Since little ones weigh less than adults they should have a mattress that contours to their bodies.

Different Types Of Mattresses

Pocket sprung mattresses are great for providing not only support but the construction of the springs, ensure the mattress molds and contours to your child’s shape, more so than an open coil mattress. Below are some more types and properties of mattresses for you to consider.

  • Hypoallergenic mattresses lessen the risk of your child developing allergic reactions when they’re sleeping. Children with allergies could be better off sleeping on a mattress made from synthetic materials as they’re less likely to lure bacteria and mites.
  • A waterproof mattress will ensure protection against mould and bacteria; it’s a smart option if your child has trouble with bed-wetting. It will be easier to keep clean and preserve them.
  • Foam mattress can form to your child’s shape to support their bodies. The higher the number, in regards to the density of the foam, indicates how firm the mattress is.
  • Mattresses made from latex foam are breathable, so they will stop kids from getting too hot and uneasy during the night.

Mattresses To Watch Out For

There are some mattresses that adult’s love but some of these options aren’t the best choices for kids. Memory foam has become increasingly popular. The composition ensures that it moulds to your shape, it provides support for spine realignment and helps people with aches and pains. This mattress may not be the best choice for your child, it’s comfortable but not supportive enough, its mouldable shape isn’t firm enough for little ones. Memory foam can also release smells and gasses that can pose a mild threat. Coil spring mattresses have large gaps that can be a breeding ground for dust mites. These little insects can cause sneezing, itching and even rashes. So it best to stay away from coil mattresses, especially if your child is prone to allergies.

Children spend around a third of the day sleeping so it’s important to help them to get the best night’s sleep they can. Buying the right mattress will help your child to sleep well, which means they’ll be full of energy and more likely to pay attention the next day. Happy kids definitely make for happy adults!

 

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Lisa Reed is an interior designer, DIYer, and promoter of quality sleeping. With years of experience in sleep ergonomics and biomechanics, she writes about latest trends in the mattress industry for Somtex Sleep Lab.

On A Bed Of Foam

Thousands of people spend every night in less-than-ideal sleeping circumstances. Traditional sprung mattresses can be great. But, they lack the finesse that a lot of people desire. And, pillows that are filled with stuffing always got bad after you’ve used them for some time. Thankfully, foam comes to the rescue here; providing a supportive material that can last for years. Choosing your products in this areas can be hard, though. So, this post will be going through a few of the options and what to look for.

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 (Image Source)

The biggest part of any bed is the mattress. A lot of people are unhappy with their mattress. But, you might just be looking to update your room. There are loads of options out there, with the best-being memory foam. Memory foam was developed by NASA to improve the safety of seating in their craft. But, it has proven to make an excellent material for beds. Regardless of how long memory foam is used; it never loses it’s original shape. You can sleep on a bed like this for years, and you’ll never find that it adopts an impression of your body. You can get beds made out of cheaper foam, too. But, there are usually better avoided. Most other foams won’t support you in the same way that memory foam does; often making them worse than a regular mattress.

Of course, memory foam mattresses aren’t cheap. Some will set you back the value of a secondhand car. So, people need a cheaper option. Thankfully, memory foam doesn’t have to be that thick to make a difference. Using a memory foam topper will allow you to get the benefits of a proper memory foam mattress; without the massive cost. Some of the options that you find are incredibly thick. This makes them effectively useless to most people. So, it’s best to do plenty of research and try to sample some of the options that are out there. Reviews and other help will be just fine; but, you really need to test something like this to make sure that it’s for you.

Once you have your mattress sorted; you can start to think about the pillows. Pillows are much more important that a lot of people think. Having proper support for your neck at night is essential when it comes to avoiding things like neck and back pain. Unlike mattresses, though; latex can be the best option for a pillow. A latex foam pillow will take much longer to become flat and lifeless than a traditional one. They will make your nights much more comfortable. And, will help you to make sure you avoid neck pain in the future. It’s important to consider things like this. They can have a huge impact on your life. So, it’s worth making sure that you take all of the efforts to improve your situation.

Hopefully, this post will help you to start sleeping a little more soundly at night. A lot of people ignore this aspect of their life. But, it’s important to make sure that you’re getting the best possible sleep. It has a big impact on most of the other areas of your life.

3 Weird Causes For Sleep Problems

Sometimes, it’s obvious why you’re always tossing and turning when you want to get to sleep. Maybe you’ve got some bad news that keeps turning over in your head, you’ve eaten way too close to bedtime, or you’ve stayed up too late watching your favorite series. Other times, it’s a total mystery. If you’ve covered all the usual causes for sleep problems, here are a few of the stranger reasons why you can’t get a good night’s sleep.

Your Toothpaste is Too Minty

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Image: Wikimedia

That fresh, clean scent of peppermint is invigorating. It’s so invigorating, in fact, that it can keep people awake when they should have been asleep two hours ago! One study from the UK found that people who smelled peppermint oil while spending 11 minutes in a darkened room reported feeling far less drowsy than people who smelled nothing. Though this is rarely the root cause of major insomnia cases, some people are more susceptible than others, and it’s certainly a possibility that you need to consider. I’m not about to tell you that you shouldn’t brush your teeth before bed! However, it may be worth switching to a less minty toothpaste and seeing if it makes a difference.

You’re Letting the Bedbugs Bite

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Image: Wikimedia

Bedbugs used to be an extremely common pest problem in homes all over the western world. Over time, we’ve found ways to prevent this kind of infestation, but there are still countless cases which pop up every year. It pays to be aware of the signs. Bedbug bites mainly occur at night, and are painless to begin with, but can quickly escalate into an itchy, irritating welt. Unlike flea and mosquito bites that happen mainly around your ankles, bed bugs will bite you wherever they can find some exposed skin. The bites also don’t have a distinct, red spot in the center like more common flea bites. Other common signs include tiny blood and fecal marks on the sheets. If you’re getting enough sleep, but waking up feeling like a zombie, it may be time to go looking for these signs. You may need to start looking into bed treatments like Green Tech Bug Heat. Pests like this are discrete, but can totally ruin a healthy sleep cycle!

Restless Leg Syndrome

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Image: Pexels

Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, is a fairly rare condition which is characterized by a constant, inexorable urge to move your legs or go for a walk. The symptoms tend to reach their peak at night, or when the mind is resting. However, even after you’ve treated those symptoms, a lot of sufferers still report a range of sleeping issues. A lot of the medication given to RLS sufferers focus on regulating dopamine, which affects our urge to move, rather than controlling glutamate, which is a chemical that can keep you awake. If you’re always getting the urge to get out of bed and walk around, or you know you have RLS and you’re still having sleep problems, talk to your doctor to figure out your best option.

 

Top Sleep Tips For Elementary School Aged Children

While those of you with young kids may not want to hear it, there are still times when children who are in elementary school have sleep issues.  Sometimes they are ongoing from when they were younger, sometimes there are new issues that can affect their sleep.  Here are my top tips to make sure your elementary aged child is getting the sleep they need to be happy and healthy.

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Make Sure It Is Not Medical

There are medical issues that affect children of all ages and many of these can affect sleep.  If your child is having trouble sleeping, you want to first check into any medical issues that could be affecting their sleep.  Check side effects for medicines they may be taken for example.  If a sleep issue comes on suddenly, make sure they are not sick.  Children with ADHD or Sensory Processing Disorder can also have a hard time settling down and falling asleep so be sure to discuss ways to make this easier on them with your child’s doctor or therapist.  Children can also have Obstructive Sleep Apnea which can cause them to sleep worse than they should be.  Some warning signs for this are restless sleep, snoring, mouth breathing, and extreme sweating.  Be sure to mention any of these to your child’s pediatrician.  Here is some more information about Obstructive Sleep Apnea – http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/childrens-sleep-apnea.html

Make Sure Bedtime Is Not Too Late

5 to 9 year olds still need between 10 and 11 hours of sleep at night.  That means if they wake up around 7, they should be asleep between 8 and 9.  We should all take between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep at night, so children should be in bed that long before their ideal asleep time.

Have A Relaxing Bedtime Routine

With homework and after school activities, you may find evenings are very rushed with elementary aged children, but still try to have some sort of a relaxing bedtime routine.  Ideally, your child’s bedtime routine would start about an hour before they should be asleep.  In that hour, lights should be dim and electronics should not be used.  The light from electronics stop our bodies from producing melatonin, a calming hormone that helps us fall asleep.  Reading books is a great way to relax before bed.

Create a Sleep Conducive Environment

Your child’s bedroom should be conducive to sleep.  Ideal sleeping temperature is between 65 and 72 degrees, slightly cooler is better for sleep.  The room should be pretty dark as well.  A dim nightlight is fine if they feel better about having one, but it is not necessary.  If they are bothered by outside noises, a white noise machine is a great addition.  At their age, they may pick whatever sound they prefer.

Discuss Sleep

If your elementary aged child is having trouble sleeping, be sure to discuss the situation with them.  Try to plan a time to sit down with them when things are calm.  Discuss with them how important sleep is so that they can be healthy and do well in school.  Here is a cute website that can help your child learn about why sleep is important for them – http://sleepforkids.org/ .  Discuss with your child why they are having trouble sleeping.  Do not put any ideas into their heads, but do ask questions about why they are having trouble.  Ask them what they need to help them sleep better.   If they are having bad dreams or fears, check out these 2 blog posts I wrote about this issue - Bad Guys, And Black Snakes And Sharks, Oh My And Fears Part 2.  Sometimes just talking about the issues will make things better.

Do you have questions or tips to help elementary aged children sleep?  Feel free to comment below!

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions? Start With Sleep!

 

How have your New Year’s Resolutions been going?  Did you make one to get better sleep?  Pretty much any resolution you make will be more effective if you make one of your resolutions to get better sleep.  If you are not sleeping well, it will be harder to lose weight, have energy to exercise more, or even do better at work. Here are some tips to make getting better sleep one of your priorities in the New Year!the-provisions-of-the-1963668_1280

Figure out when your ideal bedtime is
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep.  Try keeping track of your sleep for a week or so and see how much sleep you average.  Also keep track of how you feel during the day.  You should then be able to see on how much sleep you did best on.  Then take what time you have to be up in the morning and go backwards the amount of hours you do best on to see what time you need to be asleep.  It should take us between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep, so you should plan on being in bed 10 – 20 minutes before you should be asleep.

Have a relaxing bedtime routine with dim lights
We always talk about children having a relaxing bedtime, but this is important for adults as well.  Try to do calm activities and dim the lights in your house for about an hour before you want to be asleep.  Darkness signals your body to produce melatonin, a calming hormone.  Using electronics like computers, smartphones and tablets before bed stops your body from producing this hormone, so try to put those away in the hour before you sleep.  If you normally sleep with the tv on, try white noise instead.  It will give your brain something to focus on, without light.   My two favorite white noise machines are the Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machine, White and  the HoMedics SS-2000G/F-AMZ Sound Spa Relaxation Machine with 6 Nature Sounds, Silver.

(If you cannot turn off electronics, there are glasses and other accessories you can buy that will block the blue light from these devices.  Click on this link for a selection of them from Amazon -  Blue Light Blocking Glasses)

Create a spa like sleep environment
Along with white noise and having a dark room, you also want to pay attention to what temperature your sleeping environment is.  Researchers haven’t settled on an exact temperature, but the ideal range to sleep in is between 65 and 72 degrees.  You do want to sleep in a cooler room.  When we sleep, our internal temperature decreases.  If the room is too hot, our bodies have to work harder to decrease that temperature and our sleep is not as restorative.  So think spa like for your bedroom.  Cool, dark, with calming noises.

Remember, if you sleep well, you are more likely to follow through with some of those New Year’s resolutions.  You’ll have more energy to exercise, you will be less likely to crave fattier foods, and you’ll be able to concentrate better on work projects.

 

 

My Child Keeps Climbing in Bed With Us In The Middle of the Night

Today I wanted to discuss a particular issue, when your child keeps climbing in bed with you in the middle of the night.  Maybe you are okay with this, and that is perfectly fine.  I am not here to say that you should not allow your child to climb into bed with you if you are all sleeping well.  But if you are not sleeping well, keep reading.

The first thing you should do is make sure your child is not going to bed too late at night.  If they are overtired at bedtime, they will be more likely to wake during the night and also earlier in the morning.  The other important thing is that your child fall asleep on their own at bedtime.  If they need you to lay with them, or if you let them fall asleep in your bed and then move them to their own bed, they will most likely need help falling back asleep in the middle of the night when they have a partial awakening.  (We all have partial awakenings during the night, we just usually do not remember them the next day.  Read Drowsy But Awake for more information on this.)

If your child knows how to fall asleep on their own and is not overtired at bedtime, and they still come into your bed at night, there are a few different ways to handle this.  No matter how you handle it, I recommend having a family meeting during the day, when you discuss any changes you would like to make to their nighttime patterns.  Try to sit down with them when there is nothing else going on and if they are not an only child, try to have this meeting when your other children are not around.  Let them know that their sleep as well as your sleep is very important for everyone’s health and happiness.  Then let them know what changes will be made.

My top three choices on handling this issue follow:

1. Allow your child to come into your room and sleep on a special bed you have made for them on the floor.  Let them know they have to come in very quietly and they cannot wake you up.  They can sleep on their special bed if they feel like the need to be closer to you.

2. Keep allowing your child to climb into bed with you, but make a rule that they not wake you up.

3. Do not allow your child to come into your room anymore at night.  Let them know that everyone will sleep better if they stay in their room, and if they come into your room, bring them calmly back to their room.

You can use sticker charts to track their behavior if your child responds to that.  Do reassure them if they do really need you in the night (for example, they are sick), that they can come get you.

Does your child come into your bed in the night?  I’d love to hear how you handle it!

I Am Too Anxious to Sleep

I hear this a lot from adults as well as older children.  They are too anxious, worried or scared to fall asleep or stay asleep.  Does this every happen to you – You are nice and comfortable in bed, and all of a sudden, you remember you wanted to send an email to a friend?  Or you have a big meeting or job interview the next day and all you can do is lay in bed and run through in your mind all that can go wrong?   I think you have all been there at one point or another, now how do we avoid it?

First, make sure you are sleeping in an ideal sleep environment.  Make sure the temperature is fairly cool and the room is dark.  I always recommend white noise as well, check out my review on the noise machine I sleep with.  (And you can buy one for yourself here – http://http://amzn.to/2dVHBRo)

Second, make sure you are not going to bed too late or too early.  Adults should be getting around 7 – 9 hours of sleep so figure out when you should be asleep to get that much sleep.  Allow yourself 10 – 20 minutes to fall asleep once you are in bed.

Now, here comes the more tricky part.  How do you actually keep your mind from wandering, worrying, and writing?  Yes, I tend to occasionally write blog posts in my head when I am trying to fall asleep!!

  • Having the white noise on is a great start.  The noise gives your brain something to focus on instead of constant thoughts.
  • Doing calm activities before bed will also help you fall asleep.  Try some stretching, reading a calm book or doing some meditation
  • I also recommend having a pen and some sort of paper next to your bed.  This has definitely helped me when I am starting to try and write blog posts.  If I can just write down the title or some thoughts, I can fall asleep.  Sometimes we wake in the middle of the night without much of a reason and really cannot fall asleep.  In that case, I recommend just starting to write whatever may be on your mind, even if you do not think it is keeping you awake.  This will get your mind off of worrying about not falling asleep, and you may just get something done as well!

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(Thanks to Casper for sharing the awesome graphic with me!  Be sure to check out their solution to sleep issues here.)

 

Do you have tips you would like to share with us?  Feel free to comment below!

Sleep Infographic – Sleep Habits: 61 Interesting Facts About Sleep

I wanted to share this amazing Infographic with you all.  It is from mattressinsider.com and I found it so interesting, especially that more than 1/2 of the American population has taken a nap within the last week.  Have you?

 

Sleep Infographic from MattressInsider

Learn more about sleep at https://www.mattressinsider.com