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Sleep

We spend much of our lives sleeping. A typical person spends 30-35 per cent of their life sleeping. Proper sleep is good for your health and may help prevent conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The amount of sleep we get affects our ability to function in our day to day lives. Everyone has experienced the fatigue, bad mood, or lack of focus that so often follow a night of poor sleep. It is not always easy to get the sleep we need throughout one’s lifetime.

Help Your Baby Sleep Well

  • At night, set up a soothing routine. Give your baby a bath, sing lullabies, read a book, or tell a story.
  • When your baby is getting sleepy, put your baby in her crib in a quiet, darkened room. This will help your baby learn to go to sleep in her crib.
  • Don't rock your baby to sleep after about age four to six months. Rock your baby, but lay the baby down to sleep while he is drowsy but still awake.
  • When your newborn wakes up, he/she will usually be hungry and need to be fed (on demand). Your baby will feed and go back to sleep easier if she is not fully crying.
  • It’s normal for a baby to murmur and be restless every 50 to 60 minutes. The restlessness normally lasts a few minutes, and if babies are left alone, they usually fall back to sleep.
  • Settle your baby down to sleep as quickly as possible if he is not acting hungry during a night-time feeding. 
  • If your baby wakes up and doesn't settle down, check to see if she is hungry or needs a diaper change. Feed or change your baby quietly. Keep the light low. Don't play with or sing to your baby. Put him or her back in the crib as soon as you can. 
  • Try to stay calm. Young children are very sensitive to a parent's feelings of frustration. 
  • Be consistent. If you change your plan for how to handle night-time crying, make sure that you and your partner agree on it before you go to bed.

Help Your Child Sleep Well

  • Set up a bedtime routine to help your child get ready for bed and sleep. For example, read together, cuddle, and listen to soft music for 15 to 30 minutes before you turn out the lights. Do things in the same order each night so your child knows what to expect. 
  • Have your child go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • Keep your child's bedroom quiet, dark or dimly lit, and cool. Keep televisions and computers out of your child's room.
  • Limit activities that stimulate your child, such as playing and watching television, in the hours closer to bedtime. 
  • If your child wakes up and calls for you in the middle of the night, make your response the same each time. Offer quick comfort, but then leave the room.
  • Help prevent nightmares by controlling what your child watches on TV.
  • Have your child take medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if your child has any problems with his or her medicine.
  • Do not try to wake your child during a night terror. Instead, reassure and hold your child to prevent injury.
  • If your child sleepwalks, keep the windows and doors locked during sleep time. 
  • If your child is overweight, help your child work towards a healthy weight. Being overweight can cause sleep problems or make them worse.

Help Your Teen Sleep Well

  • Talk to your teen about why it's important to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
  • If your teen is going to bed at a very late hour, teach him how to change bedtime a little at a time. Suggest that your teen go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until the best bedtime is reached.
  • Have your teen keep her bedroom quiet, dark, and cool at bedtime. It's best to remove the TV, computer, telephone, or electronic games from your teen's room.
  • Encourage your teen to manage his homework load. This can prevent the need to study all night before a test or stay up late to do homework. 
  • If a teen has trouble waking up in the morning, ask what you can do to help.
  • Offer to wake her.
  • Offer to check to make sure your teen got up when the alarm went off.
  • Offer to turn on a bright light in the room when it's time to get up.
  • Teach your teen to avoid caffeine (found in soda pop, energy drinks, coffee, tea, and chocolate) after 3 p.m.
  • If your teen is overweight, work with your teen to set goals for a healthy weight. Being overweight can be linked with sleep problems.

Help Yourself Sleep Well

  • Avoid or limit caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours before bedtime. Both can keep you awake. 
  • Don't drink alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol can cause you to wake up more often during the night.
  • Don't take medicine that may keep you awake, or make you feel hyper or energized, right before bed. Your doctor can tell you if your medicine may do this and if you can take it earlier in the day.
  • Use the evening hours for settling down. Avoid watching television and using electronic devices such as a computer or phone in the evening if they keep you from getting to sleep at night.
  • Make exercise a regular part of your life, but don't do it within three or four hours of bedtime.
  • Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool. Try using a sleep mask to help you sleep.
  • Take a warm bath before bed.
  • Follow a sleep routine. Try to have the same bedtime and wake-up time each day.
  • If you are overweight, set goals to reach a healthy weight. Being overweight can be linked with sleep problems.
  • Manage stress. The stress and worry that come with having a child who isn't sleeping well may be causing you sleep problems too. Take steps to manage stress and sleep better.
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Updated Dec 8, 2016