Argosy University Blog

Your Bedroom: The Key to a Restful Night’s Sleep

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Whether snuggling in for the night or just trying to catch a quick few winks, your environment plays an important role in determining if you’re counting sheep or counting Zzzs. From noise reduction to lighting, there are a few easy ways you can turn your bedroom into a tranquil oasis.

“A third of the adult population suffers from insomnia from time to time, but only about 6 percent meet the criteria for an actual sleep disorder,” says Dr. Christina Brown from the Florida School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University | Tampa. “In a good number of cases, getting to sleep and

staying asleep is a matter of your surroundings.”

Kristina Held, assistant professor of Interior Design at The Art Institute of Charlotte, a campus of South

University, focuses on areas of the bedroom that you may want to re-evaluate in order to create the sleep haven you’ve been craving.

“Creating a bedroom that is conducive to your most restful sleep might require a bit of homework, but I think you’ll find it won’t take you long,” Held says. “As an interior designer, I like to focus on lighting, bedding, furniture and decor.”

Lighting :

Humans were created to be in-synch with the sun cycle. For this reason, Held recommends positioning your bed to the east so that you will be able to wake up seeing the sun rays peeking in around your curtains.

“Try several layers of curtains to block out light at night,” Held says. “Sheers and heavy protective curtains can help soften the room visually, help with sound absorption, help insulate the window, and are a great opportunity to bring in some color and pattern.” You can leave the sheers drawn during the day to diffuse daylight while protecting against views from the outside.

Both Brown and Held warn about electronics that provide artificial light in the bedroom. “Get rid of your phones, TVs and iPads while in bed. The artificial light will interrupt your sleep cycle and keep your brain activated, making it harder to get to sleep and keep you off the more natural sleep patterns,” Brown says.

Bedding :

“A comfortable mattress enclosed in a hypoallergenic cover protects from dust mites and allergens such as animal dandruff and pollen,” recommends Held. Try to use only natural fiber content for your bedding such as cotton, organic cotton, silk, or linen blend. Also try using hypoallergenic pillows to prevent allergies. Held also recommends placing a humidifier in your room during the winter months, and changing your air filters at least once in three months.

Furniture and decor :

“Don’t use reds, it makes you awake and some say aggressive. Neutral colors, along with blues and greens, evoke calming feelings that we get when we are surrounded by nature,” Held says. Place a neutral area rug for noise reduction and decoration. If you live in a busy area, Brown recommends a white noise machine or ceiling fan to drown out the background noise. Don’t forget to include some inspiring artwork that is meaningful and brings you feelings of calm.

Horizontal lines inspire calmness and are well-suited for a bedroom. Natural materials bring in a relaxing factor as well. Lastly, unclutter your bedroom as much as possible – it will clear your mind. Some horizontal book shelves may just be the trick to de-cluttering and adding the horizontal line accents.

Both Held and Brown agree that keeping your home cooler during the night will help you sleep better.

Keep your thermostat at the most comfortable cool setting, as changes in your body’s thermal regulation will wake you.

“In the short-term, just one sleep-deprived night can interfere with your ability to concentrate, affect your mood and even make you drowsy during the day,” explains Brown. If getting healthier is part of your new year’s resolution this year, make getting adequate sleep part of your goal.

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Kids in Sports - The Pressure to Perform

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Most every parent knows the joys and pains of children’s spring sports – the Saturday early morning scramble to get the family up, ready and to the field which is balanced out by watching your child make a great play.

The benefits of organized sports are numerous. “Sports can help children meet the 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day recommended by the CDC,” says Dr. Mirjam Quinn, assistant professor of Clinical Psychology at Argosy University, Chicago. “Research shows that participation in team sports can help children develop important social skills including the ability to delay gratification, follow rules and navigate conflict. Regular exercise decreases anxiety, improves mood, and fosters the development of important brain functions including attention, planning and organization.”

On the other hand, Quinn cautions, research also shows that some kids who participate in organized sports are at increased risk for performance anxiety and stress, burnout and may even focus on sports to such a degree that other aspects of the child’s identity are not developed. Why? The pressure to perform.

“There is too much pressure on parents and children alike to be the best, to be special, to be ‘truly gifted.’ Parents are often made to feel that if they don’t make their child shine over and above the rest, the alternative is a life of failure,” says Alan Nathan, an associate professor in the Clinical Psychology program at Argosy University, Washington, D.C.

“While some parents see the capacity of sports to help their children remain healthy and develop positive life skills, others can feel that sports are a vehicle for college scholarships and careers as professional athletes,” says Dr. Kevin Sverduk, chair of the Sport-Exercise Psychology program at Argosy University, Orange County.

That means that sports for children are becoming more competitive and the family is becoming more invested in the game. “With more and more youth sports being played within ‘club teams,’ families that can afford the costs for the club’s coaching, travel to tournaments, not to mention private coaching that is often needed to stay ahead are often seen as better sport parents. With the individual sports like golf, tennis, figure skating and gymnastics, it is even more of a status symbol to have a child who has achieved some level of success,” says Sverduk.

“When kids see their parents one-up each other over their children’s sports performance, they get the message loud and clear – ‘You are more worthwhile when you do well,'” says Quinn. “Providing external rewards (including praise) and focusing on performance rather than the process of learning saps children of all enjoyment of the activity. Their motivation shifts from intrinsic rewards (like feelings of competence, pride and enjoyment) to external rewards (like performance evaluation and praise). Many kids become dependent on the external rewards and their self-esteem crumbles when they do not win.”

The difference between a kid who benefits from organized sports and one who is crushed under the pressure is whether or not that child has parents and coaches who foster a healthy attitude toward sports. While keeping your child front of mind during their sports activities can be a challenge for some parents, it is a necessity.

“The most important issue is that the child enjoys his or her participation in the sport and that the child feels that his or her parents are invested in supporting the child,” says Nathan.

“If you are a parent and you find yourself becoming emotionally wrapped up in your child’s performance in sports, or academics or advanced basket-weaving, it is probably time to take a step back and remind yourself that it’s your kid who is out there – not you,” cautions Quinn. “At the end of the day, your child is a worthwhile person, regardless of whether she does well or fails outright.”

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