What are sleep habits?
Good sleep habits (also called good sleep hygiene) are things that you can do to give your child the best chance of a good refreshing sleep. Most of these things are common sense but can be forgotten in everyday busy life.
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is essential for good health. It refreshes the mind and repairs the body. Lack of sleep can cause fatigue and mood changes as well as problems with concentration, memory and coordination.
Tips for better sleep
1. Get regular – It is important to keep consistent bedtimes and wake times every day of the week.
2. Bed is for sleeping – Keep the bedroom cool and quiet. Do not use their bed for anything else other than sleep. Avoid using the bedroom at nights as a place to watch TV, do homework, text friends, etc.
3. Sleep ritual – Develop a routine to remind your body that it’s time to sleep. For example, consider relaxation or breathing exercises, warm bath or shower. Allow at least half an hour of quiet time before going to bed.
4. No naps – Avoid taking naps during the day to make sure you are tired at bedtime.
5. Over stimulation – Avoid high stimulation activities before bed such as watching television, texting, and computer games.
6. Exercise – Regular exercise is important to help with good sleep, but try to avoid heavy exercise close to bedtime (for one hour before sleep).
7. Avoid caffeine – It is best to completely avoid caffeine containing drinks and food (e.g. energy drinks, caffeinated soft drinks, chocolate, coffee) but especially four to six hours before bed.
8. Eat well – A healthy balanced diet will help you sleep, but timing is important. An empty stomach is distracting, but a big meal just before bed can interrupt sleep too.
9. Relaxation – Learning tips to reduce night time worries and fretting about sleep may be useful. Try breathing exercises to help you relax.
10. Use a sleep diary – This can be a useful way to check your sleeping patterns from time to time.
These tips can also be used by a child who has RA and is having difficulty with sleep. If you are still having difficulties with sleep, talk to your rheumatology team. Sometimes medications may be needed in addition to the above tips.
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