Got Sleep? Top Mindful Sleeping Habits
How do mindful sleeping habits factor into our mindfulness practice? Well, it’s pretty simple. If you’re tired all the time, it’s nigh impossible to live mindfullly. In a constant state of exhaustion, we are basically running on empty and don’t have the extra willpower it takes to apply our focus, concentration and intention this way. If you are able to engage in a mindfulness practice at all, you’ll probably do it lying down because maintaining a mindful posture is just too much work when you’re tired. And, of course, once you’re lying down: well, you’ll just fall alseep!
So mindful sleeping habits play a big role in our health and our mindfulness practice. When I show up in class, and also in my music lessons, it is not uncommon for the young people facing me to have black circles under their eyes and be unable to suppress their yawns for the duration of my teaching.
Why do I call them mindful sleeping habits? Because anytime we apply our focus, intention, concentration to an activity, we are doing it mindfully, or presently. The act of mindfulness is an execution of our free will in a positive direction. The outcome of such an act can only be good, allowing us to bring the highest and best to ourselves and our community.
Top Mindful Sleep Habits
Here’s a list of what I think are the most important mindful sleeping habits for your children:
#1 No electronics in the bedroom or before bed
Children’s minds are stimulated by TV, tablet and phone use past the point of exhaustion. It then takes children longer to fall asleep. We need at least an hour of gizmo-free time before bed, and devices should be stored and charged in a common area outside the bedroom, to minimize the temptation to check in the middle of the night. The 3 Bs: Bath, books and bed.
#2 Regular bed and wake times
Parenting 101. Our bodies have rhythm. (Circadian rhythm). Generally we should wake up within 20 minutes of the same time, so try to get to sleep at about the same time each night to allow for this. Don’t panic if you miss a bedtime; it’s all got to flow, but this routine should be built into a family’s schedule. It’s tricky with kids who are with Mom some days and go to Dad’s house other days…in the interest of your childrens’ health, work out a common bedtime that you both respect.
#3 No sweets or too much high carb food before bed
High-sugar before bed makes your blood sugar drop a few hours after you go to sleep, and your body wakes you up to get help sorting it out. If kids need a pre-bedtime snack, make it something low sugar. Make sure big drinks are taken closer to suppertime rather than bedtime, to minimize night-time bathroom trips! For parents, limit your booze and caffeine of course. Need I even say, don’t allow your kids to consume caffeinated beverages?
#4 Set up the bedroom to promote sleep & give enough time to the bedtime routine
For example, it shouldn’t be too hot or cold. Warm colour lights are better than the overstimulating blue lights found in electronics. The room should be an emotional space of comfort and relaxation: clean, uncluttered if possible, nice-smelling! A bit of lavender oil on the pillow. Allow enough time in the pre-bedtime ritual in the bedroom for pillow-talk with your child to go through the days events. This is often when kids start decompressing from the day, and are finally ready to communicate with their parents about how things are going. If you’re hoping to kiss ‘n dash, you might be out of luck! Give yourself the extra time in this routine so you can be available to your children when it matters most to them.
I hope this helps! For more information on promoting healthy sleep habits, check my book, End Insomnia Without Drugs, which chronicles my own journey through post-partum insomnia and is available in hard copy and electronic form via Amazon and iTunes. The links are posted at www.End-Insomnia.com.
Thanks, Rosanna D’Agnillo