Do you find yourself waking at night, feeling wide awake and unable to return to sleep? Did you know that approximately half of women and men suffer from insomnia, according to Stats Canada in 2017? I believe that this number is much higher during the pandemic where stress and anxiety have increased for many.
If you are looking for solutions, here are my top 4 tips for managing a night waking so that you can return to sleep more easily at night.
- Get out of bed and move to a different room in the house once 20 minutes have passed. Keep lights low, and do a relaxing activity such as some light reading. Once 20 minutes have passed or you begin to feel sleepy, then return to your bed. Doing this will allow you to associate your bed with a positive place where you can sleep easily, rather than not.
- Practice good sleep hygiene by waking up and going to bed at the same time each day. Have a relaxing bedtime routine most nights without screens at least 1-2 hours before going to bed.
- Decrease stress by controlling what you can. We may not always be able to change our circumstances, but we can move more during the day, keep healthy food on hand and breathe in the fresh air. Making positive changes to your routines will allow you to sleep more easily at night. Work with small actionable steps. Just a few minutes a day can positively impact your sleep.
- Create a list if stress and anxiety are keeping you awake. Write down everything that is on your mind at bedtime, or if you wake at night. Reading the list the next morning can help to improve stress during the night. You will always be able to find a better solution to the problem after a solid night of sleep!
Feeling ready to improve your sleep now? Schedule a complimentary call with me here.
Children are soon ending a long break from their last “normal” day at school. This is a time when I typically receive many questions about getting children back on their sleep schedule. However, this year could prove to be a bigger task than most if late nights, sleeping in, and a lack of routine have been happening regularly. Here are my top sleep tips for getting sleep back on track by September!
Get back on track now.
When does your child’s school day start and how much time is needed to have breakfast, get ready and commute to school? How much sleep is needed for your child? Make sure they are getting to bed early and receiving the appropriate amount of sleep for their age.
Have a bedtime routine.
Start working with a consistent bedtime routine each night. If bedtime has been later than it will be when school begins, start to adjust your child’s clock by 15 minutes every couple of days until you arrive at the desired bedtime.
Make sure some time outdoors with fresh air is happening regularly. The best hours will be when the school day is complete. This allows time to take a break, have some exercise, and get some fresh air. Hydrating properly, eating healthy food and having dedicated time to spend together as a family will also help maintain positive mental health for your child and the entire family. Placing importance in these areas will help your child sleep more easily at night.
Prepare you child for a different kind of school year.
Has your family decided to learn at home or attend school? Are they aware of what a “cohort” is or the importance of social distancing? Have some simple conversations about what school will be like:
- What are they looking forward to?
- Explain how the school year might look different and how some things might feel okay for them and some might feel different. Maintain a positive outlook while listening and validating their thoughts. If they are worried or concerned find ways to reassure them.
- Discuss the importance of proper handwashing and wearing a mask if it is necessary.
Keeping your child aware and keeping their mind at ease, can decrease the chance that your child will have a difficult time sleeping at night.
Have questions about sleep for your child or yourself as we approach new routines this September? I welcome you to call and schedule a free consultation here.
This has been a difficult time for many, especially children. Not only have our lives changed dramatically, theirs have as well. They are especially sensitive to the tension and stress parents are experiencing, which means they may feel more drained, and certainly more tired. Prioritizing sleep is essential for your children and family right now. Below I share four main reasons they need sleep, and what initial steps we can take to keep routines and sleep schedules on track during this time.
Children thrive with routines
Children thrive with routines, and truthfully, we all do. Even with most activities, schools and businesses closing, together with our social distancing, we can do something. We can control healthy habits, especially sleep. In a world that is feeling uncertain, having bedtime routines in place enables children to feel safe, secure, and rested. For example, if children usually go to bed at 7:30 P.M. and wake at 6:30 A.M. then stick with a similar schedule now. I also recommend eating together at regular mealtimes and maintaining a general weekday schedule. Keep a more relaxed weekend schedule for children and the entire family.
Sleep is crucial for their health
Proper sleep hygiene allows children to have better focus, improved energy, and boosts their immune system. Right now, focus on what you can do in terms of honouring healthy habits. We likely have more time than ever before, to eat more healthy, drink lots of water, and honour our sleep. Many children know we are trying to keep our bodies healthy right now. Have a simple conversation about how honouring our sleep is going to help with this, and make sure that you are doing this for yourself as well. Children will learn to value sleep when they see their parents doing this for themselves.
Use a Sleep Meditation
For additional help with sleep, there are some free online resources for children and parents. We have used these in our home.
- Calm is a free online meditation App that offers support during this time.
- Elaine Martin also shares some amazing sleep stories for children. I am a huge fan of her work!
Where to start
Implement a bedtime routine for your child starting tonight. If things have fallen off track with the whirlwind that has affected all of us in the world, just create a plan to begin now. Here is one example of a typical bedtime routine for children over the age of three years.
Step 1: Decide on a bedtime.
- Anywhere between 7 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. is ideal for most children.
- Plan your dinner time and evening to ensure this time works. Tip: Give yourself a 15-minute buffer when considering your schedule to allow for more time.
Step 2: Create a bedtime routine together.
- Create a visual chart for them to use!
Step 4: Enjoy this time.
- Now more than ever before, is the time to connect, slow down, and be present with children.
Step 5: Do your best.
- The night before, plan the next day, re-evaluate, and make changes. Allow your child to explore different options or ideas for tomorrow.
If you have any questions about getting proper sleep for your child or yourself, I encourage you to schedule a FREE consultation here.
Wishing you and your families the very best in sleep and health as we navigate through this time together.
“So do you just sleep perfectly every night?”
I remember my friend asking me this. The truth is, most of the time I do. I am usually researching and helping others who are suffering with extreme sleep deprivation. I see first-hand how it directly impacts their energy, focus, relationships mental health and well-being.
I am also juggling life as everyone does and sometimes that means I have to have a plan to make rest a priority. Here are some of the most common ways that I see my clients fall off track and my tips for keeping sleep a priority.
- I have no time. Sometimes, this statement is true but, is it every single day? Where are the moments of opportunity for rest in your day? A 10-minute break or even taking a lunch break? What about a meditation? There are so many excellent apps to try. Breethe has some that take as little as three minutes to do. You can even listen to it while driving to create more mindfulness. FYI – I never FEEL like meditating, but I do it to take a break and calm my nervous system. Of course, to help me sleep better at night.
- My child’s schedule is too busy. Having a busy activity schedule can mean that the to-do list is left until the end of the day after the kids are in bed. This makes for a really late night.
It is important to find ways to get assistance from a friend or hired help. Perhaps you need answer only five emails, or set a timer for 15 minutes so that you can wrap up work and have time to unwind before bed. Not every night will be perfect, but by making small adjustments and setting limitations you can alleviate a lot of pressure and stress. Then you can have some time to unwind and eliminate those symptoms of insomnia.
- I want to stay up late. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and all work and no play is not the way to enjoy yourself. It is important to have nights out with friends or even watch a movie with your spouse. Our Friday nights are often movie nights before bed providing us with sometime together. Set yourself up for success by aiming for good sleep habits five nights of the week. Then the other “off’ nights will fit more easily into your plan for better sleep. If you are too rigid with your sleep schedule, you may quickly fall off track. You need to see your sleep as something precious and not a hindrance to your life.
Looking for more answers to your most common sleep problems? Schedule a free consultation with me here and start enjoying a perfect night of sleep!
Do you reach for a cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning? Many of us do! Maybe it’s the smell, the first cup you drink that tastes so delicious or the feeling of more energy on Monday morning that you look forward to? There are a variety of reasons that people enjoy coffee and like everything in life, it is fine in moderation for adults to consume. Of course, children must avoid coffee completely. It can negatively affect the quality and quantity of their nutrition by acting as an appetite suppressant.
As a Sleep Specialist I work with individuals everyday to resolve their most challenging sleep problems. I know people are typically only motivated to cut back on their caffeine habit once they have a clear understanding as to why and how it affects their sleep. Here are common reasons.
- Caffeine acts as a stimulant. The one thing that you love about it is the same thing that is often causing or at least contributing to insomnia – at least when you consume too much at the wrong time of day. It can also increase feelings of anxiety or irritability.
- It stays in your system longer than you think. Caffeine stays in your system between 4-6 hours. However, a quarter of that caffeine will stay in your system for as long as 12 hours!
So what can you do to enjoy your cup of coffee and get a good night’s sleep? You don’t have to cancel all of your coffee dates but instead, be mindful of these important tips to keep caffeine in check.
- Make sure to limit caffeine to no more than two 8 oz. cups per day, preferably before 10:00 a.m.
- Cut down on the amount of caffeine that you consume. Instead try decaf, a half cup of coffee, an energizing herbal tea instead such as peppermint, or decaffeinated green tea.
- Replace your coffee with a healthy alternative. Many of us crave caffeine after lunch when our internal clock causes us to naturally feel sleepy. Taking a short walk and getting some fresh air and sunshine can help us feel more alert. Bonus points for taking a 20-minute nap when time permits.
- Watch for hidden caffeine consumption found in cocoa, caffeinated teas, popular energy drinks, and some soft drinks.
Of course, you will also want to make sure that you have a solid sleep routines in place as well if you are faced with sleep challenges so don’t forget to create a peaceful sleep environment, a relaxing bedtime routine and make sure that you aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Looking for help with kicking the endless cycle of poor sleep night after night? Schedule a complimentary Discovery call here.
It’s nighttime, yet the idea of going to bed sounds more like a nightmare rather than sweet dreams.
Chances are you likely can not fall asleep or stay asleep and are dealing with constant insomnia. These symptoms include:
- Going to bed at a reasonable time, but laying awake for hours.
- Falling asleep easily, but waking up and are unable to fall back to sleep.
- Or the worst yet, not sleeping at all.
Experiencing insomnia is no joke! In fact Stats Canada reported in 2007-2013 that 43% of men and 55% of women between the ages of 18-64 years of age have trouble going to or staying asleep. Based on what we know about the increase in technology, the constant demands to do more in a 24-hour day, we can suspect that these numbers are on the rise.
There are 2 common reasons that insomnia is becoming a major health crisis
1.Technology: Screens emit blue light which directly interferes with our sleepy hormone, melatonin.
Solution: Many of us do not need to reach for a melatonin supplement, but can become more disciplined with turning off our electronics at least 1 hour before bedtime, keeping our phones out of the bedroom and answering only necessary emails . Even if you fall asleep quickly, the disruption to melatonin before bedtime will increase wakefulness throughout the night.
Additional tip! Rediscover a new passion, draw, read a book, a magazine, take a bath or meditate to replace evening television or scrolling social media.
2. Stress: Although stress is a normal part of our lives, it is not meant to be a constant state of being throughout the day. This only increases cortisol levels. The stress response created by the sympathetic nervous system (also known as “fight or flight”) is great for times when we need to be on high alert as it can help you escape any life threatening situation. However, it also increases blood pressure, damages blood vessels, promotes a build up of fat stores and of course, keeps you wide awake at night if not kept in balance.
Solution: Create a 30 minute bedtime routine so that you have time to unwind before going to bed. This will not only help you fall asleep more easily, but it will also help you to stay asleep.
Additional tip! Give your body the time it needs to rest during the day. Take a walk at lunch, meditate for 5 minutes, read a good book, spend time with a phone call, or visit a friend or a family member.
Of course, if you are struggling with sleep, your health, and increasing stress, you are not alone. I would like to chat more about your sleep challenges so that you can be your best self again! I welcome you to schedule a free Discovery call here