Itching for a Good Night's Rest
Last updated: April 2019
The effects of atopic dermatitis can be of great detriment to sleep, and can be quite uncomfortable. But, with planning and preparation, proactive prevention is doable. Everybody's process is different so you or your caregiver will need to go through trial and error before finding your sweet spot for steps that work for you.
Get healthy: Inside and out
Eating healthy foods for your insides can also be healthy for your outsides. While greasy, sugary, or unhealthy foods may also make you tired, it will not likely be a "healthy" tired feeling. Eating healthy "AD-friendly" foods can help clear and prevent flare-ups. If you already know your triggers - avoid them; if you know the foods that are most beneficial to you - eat them. If not, find out both.
Comfy bedtime clothes
Comfortable bedtime clothes are a very important contributing factor to avoiding atopic dermatitis flares and sleep deprivation. Clothes that are uncomfortable, itchy, too tight or irritating will surely contribute to or worsen flares. Whereas comfy, breathable fabrics will increase overall comfortability and encourage sleep as well as decrease the likelihood of a flare.
Listen to your biological clock
Your biological clock will help you identify whether you are a night person or a day person. Listen carefully. Try to make your bedtime match your natural biological clock. Try to wake up and go to sleep at the same times each day to help your body develop a schedule and routine. Adequate space between sleeping and wake times will promote better sleep and wake times. It will help your brain to feel and know when it is bedtime and decrease resistance.
Consistency is key
Revolve bedtime routines around your scheduled wake and sleep time. Decide what you will do and what order you will do it in. For example, my daughter has her music videos that start with high energy videos, then medium, then low. Then, she has her bath and brushes her teeth. Lastly, we read three to five bedtime stories before bed depending on how tired she is and how many books she has heard the night before. This helps her body know that when books come, bedtime follows.
Establish a nightly skin care routine
Nightly skin care is crucial for comfortable sleeping. Moisturized skin is happy skin. For my daughter, she takes her bath first, then moisturizes. This way, she washes all the germs and other things that may aggravate her skin before putting moisturizer on her skin. Limited TV or tablet time, especially for younger children at nighttime, can also be a great way to slow and calm down their bodies to aid them in better sleeping.
Proper maintenance breeds nighttime peace
Healthy sleep is more likely in a well-maintained body. For adults, consider whether body hair is a benefit or detriment to your atopic dermatitis and act accordingly. If body hair contributes to flare-ups and irritation, shave it. If shaving causes or contributes to flare-ups, don't shave it. For babies and adults, our nails must be kept clean and cut to minimize scratching and irritation. Clean, cut nails on clean moisturized skin will cause a lot less irritation than dirty nails, long nails or dirty skin.
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