Sleeperific 2015

new year resolutionBe a more fabulous, well rested version of yourself!

I’ve never been much for new year’s resolutions. Since becoming a parent, I’ve become increasingly sentimental. Year end is when I take stock of the time passed, and reaffirm the hopefulness I have for myself and my family in the future.

At the top of my resolution list is better sleep, mostly for myself (and of course continued sleep for the rest of my family). As a mother of three (plus a dog who thinks she’s people), along with running my own small business, my sleep quantity and quality is often compromised. And I KNOW how important sleep is, but I still allow it to slide. I wanted to remind you (and myself!) that sleep is not a luxury enjoyed by the lazy, the inefficient or unproductive. Quite the opposite: sleep is an absolute necessity to bring out the best in you and your family.

Here’s 4 ways sleep make us better, which are good reasons you should be sleeping better too:

Sleep makes your healthier – There’s a growing body of scientific literature which  links heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, compromised immune function and obesity to poor quality and quantity of sleep through sleep deprivation studies.  Longer term studies (consistently going without adequate sleep for years, decades) are just starting to uncover how our lack of sleep can cause disease or cause disease to worsen.

Sleep makes you smarter – Sleep leads to more brain power in a couple different ways. Without sufficient sleep, it’s difficult to focus on the task at hand, which inhibits the ability to learn. Added to that, sleep plays an important role in consolidating memory, which we all need to learn new information and skills. And that’s just what’s been observed in grown-ups.  Those tiny, precious, developing minds in children, where brains are doubling! tripling! in size in a matter of years… sleep is a much more precious commodity.

Sleep makes you happier – I’m the first to admit being pleasant and patient is downright impossible really hard after a poor night.  I’m not alone in feeling grumpy, temperamental and listless after a lack of sleep. Compromised sleep is a risk factor for depression (and depression is a risk factor for compromised sleep… vicious cycle). This is a great video which ties together items 2 and 3 in this list.

Sleep makes you better at everything else – In order to make good on all those other resolutions, you need to sleep well first. Admit that your sleep has far reaching impacts.  Whatever you want plenty of, less of, or to excel at in 2015, sufficient sleep will help you meet your goals.

“The way to a more PRODUCTIVE,
more INSPIRED  and
more JOYFUL life is getting enough sleep.”

Arianna Huffington

From my family to yours, I wish you a productive, inspired, joyful and sleep-filled 2015.

xxoo Krista

Use the hashtag #sleeperific2015 to tell us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest YOUR personal sleep tips to help make 2015 a better rested one for you and your family.  I’ll retweet, repost and share my favourites!

Seasonal Sleep Changes – Winter

How Winter Affects Our SleepHow Winter Affects Our Sleep

Without question, seasonal changes impact our sleep. Here are 4 ways the winter gives sleep the cold shoulder, but some tips on how you can keep your family’s rest in check all winter long.

1. Lack of Light – Darker days are upon us, especially for our friends in very northern locations. Let’s remember that darkness boosts production of melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone we ALL produce, but our bodies produce more of in the absence of light. Increased darkness and melatonin production can mean we feel unusually sleepy and sluggish.

Sleeperific Tip: Ensure exposure to light each and every day, especially in the mornings upon morning rising, or the time you would like to encourage rising. Consider using broad spectrum UV light bulbs for particularly dark and/or dreary locations.

2. Cold, dry air – The cold air outside is already dry, then add to it the affects of drying heat inside homes. Both of these types of air dry out our mucous membranes, making a great opportunity for germs and viruses to enter our bodies, but dry nose, throat and mouth make sleep increasingly difficult.

Sleeperific Tip: Encourage your family to drink lots of fluids. Consider humidifying the air in your home or bedrooms. Choose a cool mist humidifier (warm mist humidifiers are breeding grounds for bacteria) which can be easily cleaned.  Pajamas and bedding choices should be seasonally appropriate.

3. Eating Habits – Summer months tend to bring an abundance of fresh foods but winter months tend to focus on a different type of fare. Calorie rich foods often start with Halloween, and carry through Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s and even on to Valentine’s Day.  Heavy meals, especially late in the day can disrupt sleep by increasing reflux in prone bodies, but also impacting sleep quality by having an active digestive system.

Sleeperific Tip: Being hungry can disrupt sleep as much as being over-full. Encourage eating big meals at least 2 hours before bedtime for older children, possibly with a small, healthy snack before bed.

4. Decreased Activity Levels – Combine the shortened daylight hours with bone chilling temperatures, and we’re all prone to hibernate.  We’re less likely to get outside for physical activity, especially with our children.

Sleeperific Tip: Prioritize time for even short bursts of physical activity during the light hours of the day. Consider moving activities indoors with child friendly gymnasiums and indoor play centres.

Terrific Quiet Time

Quiet Time Activities | When Kids Grow Out of Naps

Floor Roadways

It’s no secret I love quiet time once those munchkins move beyond their need for naps. Masking tape, a toy vehicle or two and a few minutes is all you need to pull this together. After turning his bedroom into a racetrack with his parking garage, my 3 year old requested that I “never take it off!”

Choose the low tack tape at the paint store if you think you might leave it set up for a few days… trust me.

Resource: Check out my Quiet Time board on Pinterest for plenty more activities for encouraging independent play.

xxoo Krista

Is your baby tired?

One of the first things I try to assess when I work with a new family is the child’s fatigue level. How much sleep does that child need? These are some of the aspects of sleep I look at to determine if that child is well rested, or if he/she could be logging a few more hours of zzzs. Primarily, I ask about two things that parents can typically give me an indication of:

Quantity of Sleep – In a 24 hour period, how many of those are spent asleep? Approximately 90% of babies and children will fall into these ranges. About 5% of kids need more, about 5% of kids need less sleep than what is indicated. It’s not going to fit each and every child, but ranges of “normal” are helpful.

Quality of Sleep – Is the baby or child having long, restful stretches (depending on the age, this may still include wakings for feedings) and regular/predictable naps? We all know that a night of broken sleep is not nearly as restful as a night of consolidated sleep. Without longer, consolidated stretches of sleep, it’s unlikely that child can be well rested.

Some other “fatigue symptoms” to consider include the following list. It’s not necessarily just one factor to consider, but the combination of all of these together:

signs of tiredness
1) Falling asleep in their car seat or stroller, even when it’s not around nap/bedtime or on the shortest trips.
2) Waking from naps or in the morning grumpy.
3) Difficulty waking the child in the morning.
4) Early morning risings (generally before 5:30AM) or possibly other night wakings which aren’t related to hunger.
5) “Tired but wired” behaviour. The child appeared drowsy earlier, but as the day or evening wears on, the child is energetic, having trouble settling, lying quietly for their nap or bedtime (think along the lines of a second wind).
and
6) Fussiness/clingy, general mood decline, especially in the late afternoon or early evening.

If you feel any your children (or you!) aren’t getting adequate rest, consider what you can do to start getting more sleep into your families daily routines. Fatigue and exhaustion doesn’t need to be a way of life for your child or your family.