Getting kids to sleep at sensible times can be a right chore, my nieces and nephews constantly protest with ‘Oh but one more episode pleeaassee!’ and whilst they do eventually do what they’re told, mornings are another story. How on earth kids can be alert at silly o’clock, I will never know! Although some parents dread bedtime…routine needs to be encouraged to help reduce odd sleeping patterns, so their bodies get the proper rest they need. So, as we enter the time of year where it gets lighter earlier, here are some useful tips to get your little ones sleeping sound at and to a suitable time!
Reduce Activity Before Bed
It’s common for children to wind down during the evening by watching TV on the sofa or playing on the computer, however this could be what is preventing them from getting some quality shut eye. Melatonin is a hormone which makes you sleepy and less alert, however the blue and white light that gadget screens emit tricks the brain into thinking its day time. Therefore, it is recommended that screens are avoided at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, why not encourage reading? This is a fabulous way to destress little ones and calm them before bed and ensuring they sleep for longer. Yet Another Blogging Mummy has reviewed some great books with her children here if you need inspiration.
Furthermore, if they lay awake at night there are also some things you could be doing to help them become sleepy. For example, place glow in the dark stars on the ceiling for them to count when laying in bed. Much like counting sheep, this should have them sleepy in no time!
Create the Right Sleeping Environment
If there are too many distractions in a child’s room, this could be another reason why they aren’t able to go back to sleep when they wake in the morning or even get to sleep in the first place. Try to limit the number of things in your little one’s room and take out all technology! This way they will be discouraged from getting out of bed and playing with their toys at night or in the morning.
Routines can also be ‘tweaked’ to help your child adjust to an earlier bedtime, especially when we will be getting lighter evenings with daylight saving happening on 25th March. I read a great tip from fellow blogger Vic Welton recently advising you to bring your child’s bedtime routine forward by 10 minutes each day. It’s not a huge difference but will help to gradually get them used to a bedtime where it’s perhaps lighter than they have been used to.
Also, consider comfort. Little ones might not be able to tell you if they are too hot, their room is too bright, or their mattress is uncomfortable. 100% Cotton bedsheets are the best option for keeping cool in summer and when choosing a mattress it is important that children sleep with their spine and bones aligned to reduce fidgeting. Ensure the space is properly dark with appropriate blinds or black out curtains so the sunshine, if we ever get it in England, doesn’t encourage an early riser!
There are many great nightlights which can help to teach your child when it is OK to get up. For example, the Gro Clock has a light up sun emblem which only shows at a pre-set time.
Increase Daytime Activities
The more daylight your child can take in during the day the better as this will help produce more melatonin throughout the night. Much like cutting screen-time an hour before bedtime, it is recommended that energy drinks and other forms of caffeine should be avoided during the afternoon and evening time. This way your little one might be able to sleep easier and deeper.
Encourage outdoor activities to get them exercising too, maybe a trip to the park or how about a bicycle ride? In Brighton, we have an undercliff where you can walk from the Marina to Ovingdean where you can have a nice cup of tea or an ice cream on a sunny day… definitely an incentive for the little ones! Plus, the sea air has so many health benefits which is great for the whole family.
Sleep is super important for growth and general health for those of all ages, so ensure your little ones are getting that quality shut eye after long day! Do you have any other tips and tricks that could help encourage a good night sleep for kids? Please share in the comments!
Guest post by Nathalie Martin – blogger at http://www.helpimgettingmarried.com