With the lazy days of summer coming to a close, the kiddos and parents alike have to get back into the swing of a school schedule. As much as everyone wants to make the carefree summer vacation stretch out into September, the return to normalcy is healthy for both adults and children alike. The magic of an unscheduled summer with a tall glass of lemonade, a softly swaying hammock, and some hot, Texas shade means we’ve cast a spell on our naturally occurring circadian rhythm.
Whether you’re ready or not, summer is ending. These tips can help you prepare your household for the busy school year. Children or no, work schedules normalize for everyone when school starts, and you should be ready to get the rest you need.
Create a Nightly Routine
Since you have two to three weeks before the school year starts, you can take your time to gradually set goals for a bedtime routine. A cold-turkey approach might be too abrupt, so giving yourself and your family time to adapt to the coming schedule change means there’s more chance of a successful transition.
Begin by listing the various bedtime tasks to be completed prior to going to bed. That could range from brushing teeth to washing faces to picking up toys. The goal is to create a ritual of winding down. Once your rituals’ steps are established, then you can set an alarm on your phone or bedroom clock to signal when to start this routine. The habituation of the routine will help your body fall into a nightly rhythm.
Weight loss goals aside, daily exercise is healthy for your body. Improving your heart muscles, endorphin release, muscle flexibility, and lung capacity are all benefits from keeping a regimen.
Except when sleep is factored, strenuous exercise too late at night can actually keep you up. The goal with exercise is to be slow and muscle-engaging. Light bodyweight exercises like crunches, lunges, or yoga can get your breathing to become rhythmic. This relaxes both the brain and body.
Normalize Meal Times
A sudden increase of food to digest signals to your body that there’s energy to be used. This jump-starts your metabolism right as your body is trying to wind down. Setting a regular dinner time habituates your body to a consistent schedule with ample time to begin digestion.
It’s not simply when you eat, but what you eat that matters as well. Avoiding meats and dairy that are high in saturated fats will ensure that you won’t awaken with indigestion or acid reflux. Fats take the longest to digest, which means you might not be hungry in the morning. This could cause you and your family to skip breakfast, which has been shown to result in overeating throughout the day.
Let the Sun Rise and the Sun Set
Humans have evolved for 200,000 years on Earth, underneath the life-giving sun. We’re hard-wired to wake up when the sun is out and to sleep when the sun is gone. Dimming or turning off lights in your house signals to your brain that it’s that point of the day again. Closing window curtains to block out pesky exterior lights will also help your body relax before bed. Limiting your light exposure also means avoiding those electronics.
Leave the Phone Alone
Our smartphones are always within reach. We know we waste too much time on them. In the evening, our brains can’t relax if we’re busily surging dopamine into our brains as we scroll through our social media feeds. Even though our phones’ connectivity can be bad for our mental health, the blue light emitted from their screens physiologically affects you.
Blue light disrupts the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, as well as boosts the brain wavelengths responsible for alertness. Most phones and tablets nowadays have a blue light filter available, but not all TVs do. The simplest habit to acquire is to avoid the temptation altogether and leave the phone out-of-reach during your nighttime ritual.
Are you struggling with a summertime sleeplessness? We’ve got plenty of options for you. Take back your sinuses (so you and your family are ready to rest) by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Pasha and his team. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more updates!