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How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep

Jenn Pike October 31, 2016
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Daylight Savings time is coming, and sure, the time change is only an hour’s difference, but shifts in our regular sleeping patterns can really throw off our bodies’ natural sleep rhythms and rest patterns—in both adults and children.

A lack of sleep and regular routine for your body will not only leave you feeling tired during the day, it may also leave you feeling wired at night. As a mother, I’m sure you’ll agree, there is nothing quite as exhausting as trying to get your rambunctious children to settle down to sleep without losing your mind.

So how can you outsmart the time change and keep your system in balance? Let’s look at supplements, tips and products that can make catching some shut eye as easy as it sounds.

Supplements That Can Work For Your Family
I often get asked about supplements: what works, who needs what, and how can they help my family sleep? Here is a quick review of the top three most frequently asked about supplements.

Melatonin. Most people suffering from sleep issues will try melatonin, and although it can work for some people (usually shift-workers or big travellers who are truly deficient in melatonin), I find the majority of people have little success or find that the effects are not long-lasting. If you’re wondering how to ensure that you’re getting enough melatonin, supplementation may be beneficial, but it is far more advantageous (and certainly less expensive) to have your body produce its own melatonin. If you are lacking in melatonin, small quantities can be found in foods like Goji berries, sunflower seeds, coriander, cherries, and almonds (see my recipe for almond bites—a healthy, kid-friendly recipe) but again, when you optimize your own production you will get the perfect dose of melatonin for you.

Magnesium. Another supplement that is highly touted for sleep. Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant, and therefore may benefit people for whom body tension causes poor sleep. If muscle tension is not your problem, however, magnesium might not help you get the zzz’s you are looking for and could loosen your bowels, waking you up for a different reason!

Passion Flower. For most moms, sleep difficulties do not stem from issues with overactive muscles, but rather overactive brains. We try to fall asleep or stay asleep, but our minds are just too busy to turn off or focus. This is where a key supplement called passionflower comes in. Passionflower is not a sedative, so it does not actually put you to sleep, but by calming the thoughts that are keeping us up at night, it allows the body to fall asleep naturally. It is easy to get back to natural sleep with passionflower: a single high-dose tablet such as Pascoflair works within 30 minutes. It can even be used by teens as young as 13 years old, if they too have too much on their minds at night.

Make sure you fall into a routine to prepare for the time change:

Consistency. Maintain your child’s regular sleep, wake and nap times. Be careful not to compensate for the change by trying to delay your child’s bedtime or allowing your child to sleep in too much. This strategy can increase the time it takes to transition.

Transition. Aim to make gradual adjustments. You might even want to try making a slow transition starting on Wednesday or Thursday evening before the time change, moving your child’s bedtime back by 10-15 minutes each night. By Sunday night you and your family should be back on track.

Don’t be afraid of the dark. This is crucial to a good night’s sleep. If there is any level of light coming into the room your body receives signals for your brain to stay alert and stay ‘working’—even while you’re trying to sleep. Even the slightest bit of light in your bedroom can disrupt your biological clock and your pineal gland’s melatonin production. Blackout curtains or a great sleep mask (I recently tired an Ultralight Sleep Mask from Bed Bath and Beyond that hugs my face so absolutely no light can get in) are a must for the best sleep-inducing environment: I have blackout curtains on all our bedroom windows and was able to snag them at a great price from Bouclair Home.

Banish technology. Keep your cell phone away from your head and be sure to turn it to the airplane mode to help reduce EMF’s (Electromagnetic fields). A great rule that we have in our home is to keep technology out of the bedrooms completely. This means, no TVs, cellphone, ipads, or anything that temps us to just take that one last look before bed. Books, note pads and magazines are all great choices for unwinding before bedtime.

Pillow talk. If your physical space is uncomfortable then it’s going to be even harder to hit the hay. Invest in a good quality pillow to rest your precious head down on at night. My new favorite pillow is one from designer Jo Alcorn—it is so lush and 100% cruelty free, free of chemicals and fully washable.

Nourishment. My final tip would be to ensure that you are nourishing your children well from morning until dinner. One of my go-to quick, easy and delish breakfasts are my Oatmeal Pancakes. They’re easy to prep and cook and everyone loves them!

If we start their little bellies and bodies off with simple carbs like high-sugar cereal, toast with jam, or juice their blood sugar rockets only to drop in class an hour later leading to difficulty with focus and engagement.

One new step or small shift at a time implementing the tips I have shared with you will not only soften any effects from the time change but in your everyday sleep habits, patterns and overall sense of feeling fully rested and restored.

 

Almond Bites

Almond Bites

Makes 18-24 bites

You’ll Need:

  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup almond butter (or feel free to use a nut or seed butter of your choice, or WowButter)
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp barley malt syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Prep and Cook:

  1. Grind ½ cup oats and ¼ cup pumpkin seeds in food processor until powdery. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in almond butter, honey, barley malt syrup and vanilla until soft dough forms.
  3. Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Coat balls in oat-pumpkin seed powder. Place in freezer 20 minutes to set, then serve or store in the fridge.

Good to know: these bites will keep in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Oatmeal Pancakes

Oatmeal Pancakes

Makes one large pancake that can be split between two children

You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup organic oats
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed

Prep and Cook:

  1. Heat tsp coconut oil in a small skillet
  2. Mix the above in a bowl and pour into the heated skillet.
  3. Cook about 4 minutes and test the edges to see how firm your pancake is. When ready flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes
  4. Top with your choice of butter or a nut/seed butter, drizzled with maple syrup and fresh berries

Good to know: I make a few of these at a time and freeze them for a quick breakfast that I can pop in the toaster for the kids. Sometimes I make an almond butter and jam sandwich out of the pancake and they eat this in the car on the way to school.

 

 

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