Have you ever felt like a zombie after a restless night? Sleep is key to maintaining healthy habits… for kids AND adults. According to the National Sleep Foundation, poor sleep can lead to negative health effects like headaches, irritability, and lack of energy. It can interfere with your routine and the tasks you need to accomplish throughout the day. But the great news is that there are some simple things you and your family can do to get more sleep! 

So how much sleep do we actually need? There’s isn’t a one-size-fits-all number for kids or adults, but the general guidance suggests that kids need 9 – 11 hours per night, and adults need 7 – 9. But don’t let the number of hours stress you out if you are changing up your routine. Trust yourself that you know what feels best for you and your family. The quality of your sleep matters too! Let’s get into some specifics to improve the quantity and quality of sleep for your family.

Find a schedule that works for the whole week

Does your family tend to get less sleep during the weekdays and play catch-up on the weekend? Your internal clock may benefit from a consistent bedtime and wake-up every single day. That predictable schedule can strengthen your circadian rhythm, or your brain’s clock, that drives your hormones that determine alertness and sleepiness. The more consistent sleep routine, the better that internal clock can run and the better sleep you can get. 

Enjoy natural sunlight in the morning. 

This trick also may affect your internal clock. Expose yourself to natural light as soon as you can after you wake up. A small study suggests that a dose of sunlight early in the day could help your brain trigger alertness, which also starts the clock toward sleepiness at night. For kiddos, this could be brushing teeth in a sunny corner of the bathroom or maybe get a quick family walk first thing in the morning.

Move around during the day.

Sleep and exercise are connected! Have you ever had a great workout and found you’re out before your head hits the pillow that night? Finding two to five hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week may help you fall asleep quicker and sleep more deeply. Don’t forget: two to five hours doesn’t happen in one day, it’s over the course of a week. Just 20 minutes of movement a day could make a difference! For kids, the goal is 60 minutes per day. But the same rules apply: if kids are starting with no-to-little exercise, slowly add ten-minute chunks over a few weeks, or even months, until it becomes part of the everyday routine. 

Create a comfy cozy sleep environment.

Set up your bedroom for sleep success! Great news: there are some quick adjustments you can make right away. Dim the lights an hour before bedtime (maybe switch off the overhead lights and use a table lamp instead). Back to the brain, this helps trigger your internal clock that it’s almost time for sleep. Temperature plays a role too. If you can change the temperature, set the thermostat to about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 65 should keep you comfortably warm without getting too hot. 

Set a screen curfew for the whole family.

Devices like tablets, smartphones, and monitors emit blue light, which may hinder the brain from releasing the sleepiness hormone melatonin. The National Sleep Foundation recommends turning off all screens between 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. This applies to the whole family! Add other activities to your bedtime routine like reading a book together, sharing your gratitude list, or doing a 5-minute stretch to wind down for the night.