A solid night’s sleep is the goal, but when you have a young family, getting that full eight hours feels like a pipe dream. Night feedings, teething, bad dreams and other sleep disruptors make it seem like your kid spends more time awake than asleep at night. And that affects the grownup sect, too. It’s not great now, but we promise, this zombie stage doesn’t last forever.
Creating a positive sleep environment can help everyone get more of that deep, uninterrupted slumber. Overall, consistency is key, so find a routine that works for your family and stick with it. Keep in mind that everyone is different, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s also totally OK to require sleep supports or comfort items to help you (and your kids) achieve healthy sleep habits. Don’t compare your journey to slumberland to someone else’s, instead, build the plan that works for you using these recommendations.
1. Create the perfect lighting
Some kids benefit from the soft glow of a night light, but a pitch-black sleep environment is optimal for others. If your crew falls into the latter, consider using blackout shades or heavy curtains to create a dark, sleep-friendly space. That means screen lights, too. Avoid TV, computers, tablets and even your phone for at least an hour before bedtime. Looking at this type of blue light can throw off your internal clock and delay the release of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep.
Product we love: Gro Anywhere Blinds, $70, well.ca
These super cute, high quality blackout curtains suction to just about any window in minutes.
2. Choose the perfect bedding
Falling asleep can be the hardest part. Comfort matters and a good blanket is key. Infants may benefit from being tucked into a sleep sack or swaddled (this helps replicate the feeling of the womb), whereas adults may want to try a cooling, heated or weighted blanket. Don’t forget to add a great pillow. You can buy one based on your sleep preference; side, back, stomach etc.
Products we love: Sleep sacks are great for infant and toddlers: Woombie, starting at $43, snugglebugz.ca; Halo, starting at $35, indigo.ca
Adults may benefit from a weighted blanket. Try finding one that weighs about 10 percent of your own body weight. Gravity Blanket, starting at $258, gravityblankets.com
3. Try a sound machine
If every little sound prevents you from nodding off or wakes you up in the night, white noise can help. There are loads of options on the market with varying sounds like white noise, lullabies, thunderstorms, waves crashing and other soothing audio output. A small, simple model will work well for most adults but kids may enjoy a more elaborate machine with light projection and other features. Keep in mind, if your little one has a hard time falling asleep with light (see blackout curtain tip above) opt for a more barebones model.
Product we love: The Homedics MyBaby SoundSpa Lullaby, $40, homedics.ca
This model offers a variety of sound and image projection options along with timers and constant-play settings.
4. Calm your senses with essential oils
Lavender has long been known for its soothing, relaxing properties, making it a perfect natural sleep aid. It won’t be hard to find some bubble bath or body lotion in this scent, and lavender essential oils can be used in a variety of ways. Look for dried lavender sachets to put in or under your pillow, or even lavender-scented stuffed animals. A blend that includes camomile may also be appealing.
Products we love: This Works Baby Sleep Pillow Spray, $46, amazon.ca, can be misted onto any child’s pillow as part of their bedtime routine. Adults may also enjoy the Saje Sleep Well Essential Oil Roller, $28, saje.com
5. Encourage rest with a natural relaxation aid
It’s hard to shut down mentally and physically, which can lead to restlessness. A homeopathic remedy can sometimes help. This approach is more gentle than taking an over-the-counter medication that induces sleep. It can also work to reduce agitation and nervousness, and even prevent nightmares. Consult a pharmacist first to ensure taking these won’t interfere with any medications.
Product we love: Boiron Quietude Drops by Boiron, $15, boiron.ca
These flavourless homeopathic drops support calm and can help reduce many symptoms of anxiety that negatively impact sleep. They’re free from sugar, dye and preservatives and are approved for ages six months and up.