I have been yawning all day so I sat down to analyze what I did wrong and decided to share what I know about sleep in adults. (Some of this is true for children too.)
1) Turn off all screens and keep light low ½ hour to 1 hour before bedtime. With artificial light our brains do not release our sleep onset hormone, melatonin. The blue light from electronic devices has been shown to be very activating to the brain and keeps the brain in an aroused state. No tweeting before bed.
2) If you are laying in bed stewing, worrying, or brooding, keep a pencil and notebook close to your bed and briefly make a list of the things that keep looping through your mind. Resolve to find solutions in the morning when your brain is fresh. Once you close the notebook, it holds the worries and you don’t.
3) Go to sleep at about the same time every night and get up at approximately the same time every morning. This helps your body develop a sleep-wake rhythm that doesn’t override your normal circadian cycle. Your body will then know that it is time to sleep and the release of melatonin will happen at approximately the same time each night. Listen to the cues of your body and go to bed when you get drowsy. Don’t ignore the signals your body is sending you.
4) If you find that none of this is working, get up and do something away from your bed until you start to feel drowsy.
5) Check your sleep environment. Most sleep experts recommend people sleep in a slightly cooler room. Perfect sleep temperatures vary for each individual so finding the right temperature for you is important. If it is too cold or too hot, it may disrupt not only sleep onset but your ability to stay asleep. Also, make sure your room is dark if you have problems sleeping. Most people sleep best when the room is quiet.
I know I said to avoid light, but if you can’t turn off the worrying/ruminating part of your brain, try engaging it in another task. Crossword puzzles work for me. Sometimes reading a magazine (or something that is short and not too engaging) can help with that.
And a bonus suggestion: Keep small dogs that wake you up to let him outside at 11:00 pm and 4:00 am (twice in one night!!!!) out of your room. Tonight Toby sleeps in my son’s room!