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Sleep Health

Alanna McGinn on Prioritizing Sleep for You and Your Family

Alanna McGinn, Sleep Expert and CEO at Good Night Sleep Site

Alanna McGinn

Sleep Expert and CEO at Good Night Sleep Site

Mediaplanet spoke with Alanna McGinn, Sleep Expert and CEO at Good Night Sleep Site, about the relationship between sleep and stress, and how to make sure the whole family is getting enough sleep

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As a mother, how do you ensure the whole family is getting an adequate amount of sleep each night?

I always say until our kids sleep well, we as parents can’t sleep well. If your child is struggling with sleep it’s best to get that sorted out first. As we develop a proper sleep plan for our children it’s important that once they start sleeping better, we focus on our own sleep health as parents and prioritize that as well.

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What does a good bedtime routine look like to you?

A consistent bedtime routine is key to success. You can create your own “slow down hour” to help prepare you to sleep well and create a better morning flow. This consistent routine will help to cue you that it is time for sleep and you can break the hour down in three 20-minute increments. Use the first 20-minutes to prepare for the next day, write out your to-do-list, pack your lunch, choose your work outfit. The next 20 minutes you would focus on your hygiene, wash your face, get changed in your PJ’s, and the last 20 minutes you can wind down by practicing calming activities like reading or mindful breathing.

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Are there things you do for your children to help them have a better night’s sleep?

For our younger babies and kids:

I always want to encourage an earlier bedtime. Sometimes an earlier bedtime is all that’s required to get your child sleeping through the night. It also could help with bedtime battles and early risers. You’ll get your nights back and your baby or child will go down before he’s overtired. While it may seem counter-intuitive, when babies and children are put to bed too late they become overtired and have a hard time accepting sleep and staying asleep throughout the night.

Also, like we need to do for ourselves it’s important to incorporate consistent and relaxing routines for our children. Doing the same routine every night helps your child understand that bedtime is soon approaching. You can also include a short naptime routine to help prepare them for some great daytime slumber. Not only does a consistent routine prepare your child for sleep but it allows you and your child to have some quality one-on-one time that often gets lost in the mad dash of your day-to-day.

For our tweens and teens:

When someone in the family isn’t sleeping well, it can affect everyone in the home. For our tweens and teens, we may need to sit down together as a family and establish a few Family Sleep Rules. During the family meeting you will discuss the changes that will take place. Keep it simple and fun and involve them in the discussion, this is a chance to introduce this big family change to everyone. Work together towards your sleep goals as a family.

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What is the relationship between stress and sleep, and how can we reduce stress to better our sleep quality?

Our stress levels are at an all-time high currently, and having elevated stress levels can definitely affect how we sleep at night. Stress elevates our cortisol levels and if our cortisol levels are higher than usual during the day because of anxiety and stress, these levels will remain higher at night, disrupting other sleep hormones like melatonin, and that can really disrupt sleep.

If stress levels are high when you fall asleep that can make it lighter and more easily disturbed. And it can make you more prove to fully wake up as you transition throughout cycles during the night.

  1. Incorporate a bedtime journal where you are able to give your brain a dump before you go to bed. Write down your to-do list, and everything on your mind. Don’t just make note of your struggles and stressors but also everything you are grateful for that day.
  2. Stay connected to your support system. Connection is an important part of bettering your mental health. Reach out to those who will support you through our current state of mind and set boundaries on those that add toxicity to your already stressed state of mind.
  3. Incorporate an information detox during your night time routine and even throughout the day. Set boundaries on what social media you are allowing in and what news resources you check. Take it a step further and completely remove all social media from your phone.
  4. Choose a creative activity like painting, card making, crocheting, or adult colouring that you enjoy as it can be an amazing therapeutic experience. It allows you to remove your body and mind from day to day pressures, perhaps turn negative feelings into something positive, and allow for time to connect with others.
  5. Use visualization and choose an object in your home that you can turn into a “Thought Trapper”. It could be right by your front door, or even on your night table and when you get home or before you go to bed touch the object to “drop off the day” and allow the object to hold all your busy thoughts. As you start your day you touch the object again and “pick it back up”.

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