Difficult adult children? Three tips for better sleep

difficult adult children

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Difficult Adult children? Three tips for better sleep
by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

As we head into spring, and with summer on the horizon, increased daylight hours typically aid our sleep. That may sound counterintuitive but exposure to natural light is the key. Indoor lighting can confuse our bodily circadian rhythms, which influences patterns of sleep. Harsher weather and shorter days combine to keep us inside under artificial lighting and limit our exposure to natural light. That explains why, in winter, people frequently get to sleep later at night than in summer. (Counterintuitive, right?!)

As parents of estranged or difficult adult children, the last thing we need are sleep hindrances. When winter stubbornly holds back spring sunshine (grrrr), it’s tougher to get outdoors. But natural light helps regulate better sleep. That’s why making the effort to get outside is so important.

Even on cloudy days, outdoor light has a stronger impact on the body’s clock than indoor light, counteracting the sleep-delaying effect. Morning daylight exposure is particularly helpful. Which is why I’ve made this the first of these three tips for better sleep.

Difficult adult children? Three tips for better sleep

#1. Spend time outdoors each morning. Outdoor light, particularly in the morning hours, assists the body’s natural circadian rhythms. While you’re at it, notice nature, which has wonderful calming and restorative affects.

#2. Increase your optimism. More optimistic people tend to enjoy more restful sleep. Thankfully, optimism isn’t an either-you-have-it-or-you-don’t trait. Every one of us can develop more optimism. One way that research shows works is to visualize and focus on yourself at your very best. There’s an exercise to help you do just that in Done With The Crying.

#3. Stop watching the clock. Recent research reveals that “time monitoring behavior” (TMB) exacerbates insomnia. Instead of meditating, rhythmic breathing, or sipping chamomile tea, there you are in the dead of night, your face lit by the glow of your wristwatch. Yet calculating the time left before the alarm goes off and the hours already lost only increases frustration and stress. Not exactly conducive to drifting off. TMB holds no value for restful slumber. So, at least overnight, ditch your watch, smartphone, or clock.

Related reading:

For parents abandoned by adult children: Sleep can be elusive

Restful respite: A moon garden

Is your adult child estranged? Be careful

Estrangement: What about hope?

Research studies related …

Daytime light exposure . . .

The association of optimism and sleep . . .

Use of … the role of TMB . . .


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