Early Bird or Night Owl?

Ahh, school is starting here in Georgia.  I am grateful that my family still has another week of summer, swimming and sleeping in!

I have never been what you would call a morning person.  I was a night owl in college and while I may not stay up that late anymore, I still can’t get up early!  Getting back into the school schedule mode is always a challenge for us.  It is for many people who are working, and raising kids.  To be honest, this isn’t about school so much as it is about crazy sleep schedules.

Many Gifted, Innovative or ADD people struggle with sleep.  They can’t fall asleep at night, AND they can’t wake up in the morning!  I am one of those people who does their best work late in the day and into the evening hours (often under a tight deadline…..sound familiar?)  In the quiet of the night I can get really creative and lose myself in a project. BK (before kids) this wasn’t much of a problem.  As an Entrepreneur, I had flexibility and control over my schedule so I could make it work.  AK (after kids) it was a different story!  Not only did I have to get up early, I had to get up and coordinate 3 kids—who, I might add, were not early risers either!

As an adult, we know there are ‘proper’ things to do to make sure we get a good night’s sleep, and awake restful and alert in the morning.  Problem is, we don’t always do them.  When you put kids into the mix, well, it doesn’t get any easier.

So what do you do?

Most people don’t realize that sleep is a habit.  We have to train ourselves to go to sleep and to wake up.  If we can’t get to sleep, how can we expect to wake up on time?

Here are a few things you can do to retrain your brain (or your child’s) for sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine, sugar and vitamins after 3pm. This includes sports drinks and fruit.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Eat a higher protein lunch, like they do in Europe; then have a light supper.  You don’t want to go to bed hungry, but too much protein in the evening will actually give you more energy and make it harder to sleep.
  • Schedule in ‘downtime’ for your sleep routine.  If you go to bed at 10, try to have everything from your day finished by 9pm.
  • Stop using electronics an hour before bedtime —easier said than done, I know.  However, computer games, smartphones, Facebook—they stimulate the brain.  For students—NO TV’s in the bedroom.
  • Keep bedtime routine simple so that you don’t ‘wake’ yourself up in the process.  Try getting ready for bed, washing your face, brushing your teeth, etc. shortly after dinner.  That way, when you feel sleepy, off to bed you go.
  • Go to bed when you are tired.  Listen to your body and don’t fight it.  When we stay up longer than our body wants to, our adrenals kick in to ‘keep us going.’
  • Meditate or listen to relaxing music with the lights off.  If listening to music, use a device with an auto shut-off.
  • Try herbal teas (decaf, of course!)
  • Tell yourself that you are going to sleep well.  Use positive affirmations.  “I sleep well every night.”  “I fall asleep easily, within minutes.”

So, that’s a start.  No doubt you’ve heard these before.  Like any habit, it takes time to develop.  Habits don’t form when done 5 days on and 2 days off.  Start with what is easiest and add one thing at a time.  I can’t say that I have mastered these, but I have made a lot of changes, and a lot of progress.  It seems now my ‘normal hours’ are from about 7:30am until 11pm.  I have 6 more years of school before I can get back on MY schedule….

For parents of ADD children, solutions aren’t always this obvious.  Stress, homework load and medication play into the mix.  For more information on how to handle sleep patterns, and lack thereof, in ADD children please join me for

ReADDy or Not: What Does ADD mean for my child and Me?  You can learn more about this 5 part Teleseries at www.BrightOutsidetheBox.com/readdyornot/

We’ll look at strategies for waking up next time!

Please share your thoughts.  What helps you sleep?

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