Are bad sleeping habits causing you to reach boiling point?!
We all need enough sleep to function at our best. Parents especially, as they are responsible not just for their own well-being and happiness but for that of their children, too. Remembering PE kits, culinary preferences and fast-changing friendship circles requires a fresh mind. It can also prove draining and, coupled with your own worries, sleep-disturbingly stressful. A lack of sleep leaves you feeling less able to cope with daily life, adding to your stress and causing further difficulty sleeping. Before you know it, you are so exhausted that you feel like crying in the supermarket because you can’t remember whether your child likes bananas.
If you are a parent struggling to get the sleep you need, there are small steps you can take that will make a big difference. One of the simplest is managing temperature – that of your environment and your own body. Read on and set your thermostat to sleep with our top tips.
What does temperature have to do with it?
The body’s adjustment and maintenance of its core temperature is central to our sleep-wake cycle. From late afternoon to evening, your body lowers your core temperature in preparation for sleep by pushing heat away from the centre of your body and towards your hands, feet and head. Vasodilation – the widening of your blood vessels – disperses the heat through your skin, lowering your temperature and helping you to fall into a sound sleep. Then, as morning comes, a rise in your core temperature stimulates you towards alertness.
Even slight disruptions to this process can drastically affect sleep. Most of us have trouble sleeping on hot summer nights or if we forget to pop the heating off before bed. Even if we do manage to doze, our sleep quality is diminished and we spend less time in REM and slow-wave sleep, which our body needs to restore and reset itself for the next day.
The ideal room temperature for sleep is between 15.5 and 19.5oC. Most UK households set the central heating at 20oC, creating an average room temperature of 18oC. However, those of us with a higher metabolic rate will have a higher body temperature and so may find a room at the cooler end of the threshold more conducive to sleep.
It can be tricky to balance room temperature, particularly if it is a shared bedroom and the occupants have different preferences. The whirring of a fan can be irritating, whilst an open window is not an appealing option in the middle of winter! A happy compromise might be a cooling mattress, designed to draw heat away from your body, or wicking sheets which pull moisture off the surface of the skin, allowing your body to sweat heat away comfortably.
Taking steps to ensure your body stays in sync with its temperature cycle can help you to overcome restlessness. One key element to consider is your daily schedule. The time of day you choose to exercise can have a particularly significant impact as your body temperature is raised for four to five hours post-workout. A strenuous evening workout leaves core temperature elevated at bedtime and may cause difficulty dropping off. Try swapping it for an afternoon or, even better, early morning gym session instead. The National Sleep Foundation notes that those brave enough to tackle a treadmill workout at 7.00am each morning enjoy 75% more time in the most restorative sleep stages than those who exercise later in the day.
Replace your evening Zumba class with a relaxing bath. Not only will a warm, bubbly bath help soak away tension from the day that might interrupt your sleep, it will boost blood circulation from your core and towards your extremities. In addition, the bath signals to our pineal gland that it is time to start producing melatonin, the hormone that causes sleepiness. Treat yourself to a few drops of essential oil in the water – lavender oil is an effective relaxant and research suggests it may also act as a gentle sedative.
After your bath, put on a cosy pair of slippers. Keeping your feet warm will encourage vasodilation, which your body will recognise as a signal to prepare for sleep. A bedtime foot massage will also help, especially if you apply a circulation-boosting essential oil like ginger. For those with permanently chilly feet, try wearing socks in bed or rest them on a hot water bottle.
Need a little help drifting off?
At Flying Start Tuition, we know how important sleep is to learning. We also believe that helping your child to develop healthy habits around sleeping will benefit them throughout their lives. That’s why we are offering a Philips Wake-up Light and bottle of Doterra Lavender Oil as our top prize in our Christmas Prize Draw. Visit our website to find out more: www.flyingstarttuition.co.uk/win
Flying Start Tuition is an award-winning tuition centre offering classes for children from year one through to GCSEs, including their popular Eleven Plus programmes. They run a variety of holiday courses and workshops and are more than happy to advise on courses that might be suitable for your child. Classes and courses run attheir main centre in Chesham and at their five satellite centres in Amersham, Aylesbury, Berkhamsted, Jordans Village and Little Chalfont.
Flying Start are Ofsted registered and accept Childcare Vouchers and Tax-Free Childcare. Bursaries are also available – please ask for details.
For further information, contact:
t: 01494 772 898