In an attempt to do more laundry or squeeze in another episode of The Good Wife, almost all of us skimp on sleep. And
that includes the Lehmans and Avaglianos. So we used data from their Fitbit Ultra activity and sleep trackers as well
as their interviews with Robert Oexman, D.C., director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Missouri, to create
personalized goals that would get them the rest they need. “Just like going to work and the gym, you have to make a
commitment to quality rest,” says Dr. Oexman. “Once you stop cheating the clock, you’ll look, feel and function
better.” Here’s how our families put zzz’s at the top of their list—and how you can snooze better too.
How the Lehmans Won
After a neighbor’s home was broken into almost a year ago, Anna started coming into her parents’ room in the middle of the night and sleeping on the floor. “She was scared that the same thing was going to happen to us and the
person would take not just our things but her too,” says Tiffany. “She would almost cry because she didn’t want to stay in her room.” And although Anna didn’t wake her parents, kids don’t rest well on the floor, says Dr. Oexman.
Tiffany also had an issue to tackle for this challenge: A self-described night owl, she didn’t turn in until 11 p.m. or later. As a result, she was not getting enough shut-eye and was skimping on time with Andy, who often hit the hay by 9:30 p.m.
“Sleep wasn’t something that I really invested much in before,” says Tiffany. “But I realize now that it’s a vital part of weight loss and overall health.” The result of their new and improved bedtime habits? Andy has more energy and is down 2 pounds. Tiffany dropped 2 pounds as well.
Their Top Tips
★ Go to bed together. Instead of spending mindless hours online or watching TV, Tiffany curbed her night owl tendencies and turned in when Andy did. “I really enjoyed that time we had together at the end of the day,” says Tiffany. “We talked, got to snuggle and had more intimacy.” All this made Tiffany realize that getting the right amount of sleep is “totally worth it!”
★ Keep the kids out. After just two nights of following Dr. Oexman’s method (see “Reclaiming Your Bed” on page 137), Anna was snoozing in her own room the entire night. One important thing: Dr. Oexman assured Anna that her fears were normal for a kid her age. “This way she didn’t feel odd about doing this on a nightly basis,” says Tiffany. “Now she’s sleeping great and wakes up in a much better mood!”
★ Unplug for 30 minutes. “Bright lights from devices like computers, TVs and cell phones decrease the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for making us feel tired and fall asleep,” says Dr. Oexman, who told both families to turn off all technology at least 30 minutes before bedtime. “This tip really helped because it forced me to unwind in other ways—like talking to Andy, reading and praying—and to not be overstimulated with images,” says Tiffany.
What They Won: The Lehmans racked up the most points this month for following good sleep habits. So Kingsdown decided to help them get an even better night’s rest by giving the entire family new mattresses. After answering questions about their sleep patterns, Kingsdown found the best bed for each of them. To locate a retailer where you can take the quiz, go to bedmatch.com.
How Did the Avaglianos Do?
Before the challenge, lights out at the Avagliano household was around 11 p.m. and alarm clocks went off at 5:30 a.m.
The teens weren’t getting the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours, and the parents were missing the 7- to 9-hour mark. Another issue: Peggy and Peter’s tendency to doze off on the couch while watching TV. Because they’ve already slept some, this makes it harder to drift off to dreamland later. Though many of us watch TV before hitting the sack, doing so is a no-no, as is anything technology related such as checking email or playing video games. Lastly, Peter’s snoring was a
potential problem because snoring can cause disrupted sleep. Peter benefitted the most from Dr. Oexman’s array of tips. “After about a week, I felt more rested and energetic, and it was easier to get out of bed in the morning,” he says.
Their Top Tips
★ Making an announcement. Dr. Oexman suggested that the Avaglianos hit the hay at 10–10:30 p.m. “We made a conscious effort to turn in earlier during the challenge, but between work, kids, the gym, cooking and living, sleep is not the highest priority,” says Peggy. Adds Peter: “Still, just being conscious of the hour and saying, ‘It’s time for bed,’ which I haven’t said to my kids in years, definitely helped.”
★ Starting a “no couch sleeping” policy. To stay alert, Dr. Oexman suggested the Avaglianos play a game or take a walk before hitting the sack. “And when you’re falling asleep on the couch, why not go to bed?” If one of them did nod off while sitting up, the Avaglianos took Dr. Oexman’s advice and woke the dozer. “We got an hour more sleep that way,” says Peter.
★ Eliminating snoring. “Loud snoring can stir the person doing it and his or her partner even if they don’t remember in the morning,” explains Dr. Oexman. He suggested Breathe Right nasal strips, which Peter tried. “I noticed that I didn’t toss or turn as much,” he says.
What has helped your family get more sleep? Share your top tips in the comments below.