Activities and therapies that ensure our bodies get healing and restorative sleep. These include practicing good sleep hygiene, creating an ideal sleep environment, using high quality sleep comfort products, as well as acupuncture, aromatherapy and massage.
Researchers are finding that healthy sleep is connected to nearly every function in our body, from our metabolic system and immune system to our cognition and mood. When we get full, restful, healthy sleep, we not only feel better, but our risks for all kinds of diseases goes down.
And it’s not just the amount of sleep we get, it’s when we get our sleep as well. When our eyes and skin are exposed to different kinds of light, our body thinks that it is daytime and different systems in our body turn on and off. The amount of sleep our bodies need depends on our ages, but research suggests that it will follow the pattern of sunlight and darkness. Here are ranges for optimal amounts of sleep by age from the National Sleep Foundation:
Newborns (0-3 months): 14-17 hours each day
Infants (4-11 months): 12-15 hours
Toddlers (1-2 years): 11-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5): 10-13 hours
School age children (6-13): 9-11 hours
Teenagers (14-17): 8-10 hours
Younger adults (18-25): 7-9 hours
Adults (26-64): 7-9 hours
Older adults (65+): 7-8 hours
Research clearly shows that shortened, disrupted sleep is linked to increased rates of cancer and many other diseases, as well as worse cognition and emotional functioning in childhood cancer survivors.
Childhood cancer families are much more likely to have disrupted and shortened sleep compared to non-cancer families. Sleep is especially disrupted when kids have to stay overnight in the hospital. This makes it even more important that full, healthy sleep is a focus of our families’ daily routines.
Sleep hygiene is an easy yet powerful way to quickly improve sleep for the whole family. There are many keys to great sleep hygiene, but they all generally revolve around:
limiting light at night
increasing light exposure during the day
and timing eating and other activities to alert your body to day/night cycles
helping your child develop self-soothing techniques with products such as Cloud b's Super max the Turtle
turn off TV and other screens (phones and tablets) after the sun goes down
limit artificial light after the sun goes down
try to have bedtime between 7:30 and 9:00 for pre-adolescent kids
limit light as much as possible in the bedroom after kids fall asleep (continuous nightlights can disrupt sleep)
get adequate exposure to sunlight and outdoors during the day.
limit food after 7:00 pm.
There are many great researchers and doctors in the field of circadian health and sleep hygiene:
Matthew Walker, PhD, is is a professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and serves as the Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. His excellent book Why We Sleep provides a great explanation for why sleep is the foundation of our wellbeing.
Dr. Michael Irwin, MD, an expert in sleep’s effect on disease progression and recovery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. You can find more about his work here: http://www.bri.ucla.edu/people/michael-r-irwin-md
Rhonda Patrick, PhD, is a great source for “hacking” your sleep to achieve deeper, longer, and healthier sleep. Her website includes podcasts with experts on sleep, as well as blog posts on the latest science. Check it out here.
This Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies infographic, “Sleeping well in the digital age,” is a fun and useful resource. Check it out here.
Limit artificial light tonight after the sun goes down (including phone and tablets).