Getting a good nights sleep can be difficult, but there are things you can do to set yourself up for success. While these are not a cure for insomnia, they can improve your (or your child's) sleep.
Sleep hygiene tips that many find helpful.
1) Have a healthy regular sleep schedule
Your body does best when it has a regular bed time and wake time. Although everyone differs in the amount of sleep they need, 7-8 hours are recommended for adults, 11-14 hours for young children and 9-11 hours as children enter adolescence. So if you need to be up by 6:30am, assuming you're an adult, you probably need to go to asleep by 11:30pm. Start winding down for the day a few hours before bedtime and stick to the routine as much as you can.
2) Be mindful of creating healthy sleep routines
Avoid caffeine, sugary foods, vigorous exercise, and heavy meals 3-4 hours before sleeping. Have a regular dinner time. If you want a snack, have a small snack. Make sure to avoid sodas, coffee, sugar and other things that may keep you up. Children are especially sensitive to sugar and caffeine so pay attention to sugary drinks, chocolate, candy and other foods. If you wake-up at night because you need to use the bathroom, it is typically because your bladder is too full. Drink more fluids earlier in the day and make sure to void in the evening and again before bed.
3) Get plenty of sunlight early and have light exposure mimic the sun
Our circadian rhythms and sleep cycles are affected by sunlight and exposure to other types of light. Get as much sunlight as you can during the day and turn off all lights at night. Avoid computers, cell phones, tv screens 2-3 hours before bed. If you sleep with lights or the TV on break those habits. Set a TV timer to automatically shut it off earlier and earlier each day until you eventually turn it off a few hours before bed. Use curtains to block street lights and turn off (or do your best to block lights) so that they don't interfere with your sleep cycle.
4) Create a peaceful place just for sleeping
Make your bedroom a cool, dark, comfortable environment just for sleeping. Once in bed avoid reading books, texting, and other things that may interfere with your body's natural winding down process. Maintain clean, comfy bedding. Some people are affected by allergens (e.g., dust mites, pollen) so remove potential allergens regularly and make sure you are able to rest comfortably.
5) Create a calming routine to wind down and get ready for bed
Although this is especially important for children, adults benefit from bed time routines as well. A routine helps slow down our mind and body in order to prepare to rest. Sometimes busy thoughts or doing something that activates our mind or body as we're winding down make it difficult to sleep. Find a routine that works for you.
Some things to consider:
How/When do you wind down for bed?
What is your bed time routine?
How many hours of sleep do you need?
Are your meal and exercise habits supporting good sleep?
Is your environment and bedroom space dark, cool and comfortable?
What changes do you need to make?