By Jade Dharmana - Certified Child Sleep Consultant, Hong Kong
Whether you are an adult with insomnia, a child who frequently wakes up, or someone who sleeps like a log every night, we can all benefit from making some environmental changes to optimise our sleep patterns.
Follow these top FIVE tips to create the perfect sleeping environment.
1. Limit screen time
In the lead up to bed time, I recommend no screen time. The blue light that is emitted has the effect of blocking our melatonin production. Melatonin has the effect of telling our bodies that it is time for sleep, so blocking this has a direct impact on the quality on quality of sleep
For children, watching TV prior to bed time can create a level of excitement that you ideally want to be avoiding if you wish for your child to fall asleep nice and calmly for the night.
Instead, opt for a book as you get into bed and gently fall into slumber as your eyes feel more heavy!
2. Invest in black out blinds.
Our body clocks and circadian rhythms dictate when our bodies are ready for sleep, so you should aim to be going to bed at the same time roughly each night in order to maintain a healthy clock and get the highest chance of reaching your optimal sleep totals.
Our circadian rhythms are impacted by our exposure to the natural day light and dark. When it is time to be awake, it is really important to get as much natural day light as possible. When it is time for sleep, you should ensure you are in a pitch black room to reap the benefits of this natural system.
Whether you are a child or an adult, we apply the same principle, however for young children who still nap, this is especially important so that when they are sleeping in the day they are in a very dark room as much as possible. In the summer when the sun rises early, this is very important to prevent early rising.
3. Technology free zone
I always advise no TV’s, ipads or laptops in the bedroom as it leads to poor pre sleep habits, but I take this a step further and invite you to leave your phone in a box in another room in the house when its time for sleep, and switch it on airplane mode.
It is very common for people to have their phone on the night stand, charging, and worse still under their pillows. To have your phone in such easy grasp through the night creates temptation for a quick check.
These quick checks can fuel anxiety and sleeplessness for the rest of the night if you were to read a message or email that is either worrying, or work related or requires action. Even though you can’t do anything about it right then and there, your mind will have other ideas.
In addition, you are exposing yourself to blue light which we know impacts our melatonin production.
Buy a traditional alarm clock so that you don’t need your phone in the room!
4. Wind-down mode
An hour or two before bed, turn your home into your calm oasis so that your body can wind down, de-stress and relax so that your body is in a calm state before heading to sleep.
I recommend nice dim lights, scented candles, and some jazz or relaxing music on a low volume so that all your senses are exposed to a much calmer state on the back of a busy day.
5. Clutter-free zone
Clutter can busy the mind so ensure that your bedroom is a neutral and calm zone to promote healthier sleep.
For children’s rooms, I recommend that you have a storage system so that all toys are hidden away at night to remove anything visually tempting which may lead to a wake up that we all want to avoid as parents.
Jade is the founder of The Sleeep Lab and is a certified holistic sleep coach based in Hong Kong. She focuses on improving the sleep patterns of infants and toddlers, offering gentle and supportive solutions to benefit the whole family unit.