For Challenge #4, the Lehmans andAvaglianos had to catch more Zzs every night. Studies have shown that sleep helps you lose weight, improves your energy and even decreases your risk of heart disease. Once again, the Lehmans emerged victorious. Read how they did it here and follow these tips to snooze more, yourself.
6 Sleep Habits Every Family Should Follow
1. Prep for bed. Nightly routines aren’t just for infants. They’re essential for all ages. “Start a ritual about 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime to prepare the body for sleep,” says Robert Oexman, D.C., director of the Sleep to Live Institute in Joplin, Missouri, who gave the families their goals for the challenge. It could include a hot bath (which decreases your core body temperature) or a cup of herbal tea.
2. Get your own top sheets and blankets. “Using separate ones can make up for different temperature needs you and your partner may have,” says Dr. Oexman. Added bonus: You won’t wake up when he steals the blanket.
3. Stay in the dark. If you wake up in the middle of the night, don’t check your email or text messages—no matter how tempting. When your kids must have a night-light, use a low blue one. “These eliminate the blue wavelength of light
that negatively impacts melatonin production,” says Dr. Oexman. Try the 120-volt Candelabra Screw Base Amber 6-LED Night Light Bulb (lowbluelights.com, $10).
4. Lower the thermostat. About 68 degrees is ideal for catching 40 winks because it causes a decrease in your core body temp. If you get cold, covering up is okay. “It’s exposing your head to cold air that naturally decreases your core
body temperature,” says Dr. Oexman.
5. Curb the caffeine. Whether it comes from tea, soda, coffee or hot chocolate, this stimulant can keep you up at night. This means you’re tired the next day, so you reach for caffeine to perk you up, and the cycle continues.
6. Don’t allow cell phones in the bedroom…even if your kids say they use their phones as alarm clocks. That’s because every time you get a text or email, you wake up. “It causes fragmented, lower quality sleep,” says Dr. Oexman.
Snore No More!
Eliminate the nighttime noise with Dr. Oexman’s tips.
Sideline yourself. Snoring can come to a halt if you sleep on your side as opposed to your back. Sew a tennis ball into the back of a T-shirt or search for “no snore shirts” online. “This way when you roll onto your back it’s uncomfortable and you automatically roll to your side,” explains Dr. Oexman. After two weeks, you probably won’t need the shirt.
Try nasal strips. “These work well if you have nasal congestion or a deviated septum,” says Dr. Oexman. Look for Breathe Right Nasal Strips (cvs.com, $6).
Consider a jaw supporter. They look like mouth guards but help position your jaw in a way that opens your airways. Check out Ripsnore (ripsnore.com, $67 for two).
How to Get Kids to Sleep in Their Own Beds
It’s not only toddlers sneaking into their parents’ room in the middle of the night—school-age kids are doing it too. But Dr. Oexman can get your children snoozing in their rooms just like he did for the Lehman family. “Your kids actually want to sleep on their own,” he explains. Follow his how-to’s and sleep solo again!
Skip the word “scared.” Instead explain to your child that it’s okay if he “gets nervous” or “has concerns at night.” And never say, “You’re too old to be sleeping with us.” It just makes him feel bad.
Start with 15 minutes. Tuck your child into bed in a dimly lit room and sit with her for 15 minutes, just like when she was little. “You can converse quietly as long as you don’t fall asleep,” says Dr. Oexman. Then say, “I need to step out for just a few minutes. I’ll be right back. If you have any concerns, yell for me.” Why it works: “There’s safety in knowing that if they have a problem they can just call out,” says Dr. Oexman. Then leave the room and return in exactly 5 minutes.
Follow up with 10 minutes. If your child is not asleep when you return, sit there for 10 minutes. If she is still awake, say, “I need to go do something for a couple of minutes. Yell if you need me.” Leave the room for 5 minutes.
Stay for 5 minutes. If she’s still awake when you return, sit in the room for 5 more minutes and excuse yourself again.
“Typically, at this point, the child will fall asleep,” says Dr. Oexman. If not, repeat this step.
Address the middle of the night. Tell your child, “If you wake up, it’s perfectly okay to come into our bedroom and tell us if you feel the need.” This makes him feel safe, according to Dr. Oexman.
Walk your childback to bed. If your kid wakes you in the middle of the night say, “Thank you for waking us up. Now let’s go to your room.” Take your child back and start the process over from the beginning.
What has helped your family get more sleep? Share in the comments below.
Tiffany and Peggy have shared not only their struggles to catch more zzzs, but their kids’, as well. If you’re having a hard time getting your kid to hit the hay at a decent hour, check out our story, “4 Solutions to Teen Sleep Problems.” It’s filled with expert tips on getting them to do so, plus important reasons why they need at more than nine hours of sleep a night.
Have you been able to get your teens to stop burning the midnight oil? Share your tactics in the comments below.
For the past two weeks, you’ve read about how Peggy and Tiffany are trying to get more sleep. If you’re also struggling to catch more zzzs, it’s important to know what’s beneficial–and what’s counterproductive–to achieving that.
For example, did you know that exercising after dinner won’t keep you up for hours? Or that you should never use your snooze button? Learn why, and read more ways to get better sleep here.
What’s the most interesting change you’ve made to achieve better sleep? Share in the comments below.