Welcome back to the final instalment of our four-part blog special. Last week and this week, we’ve been having forty winks – in the form of a whopping forty sleep tips for better sleep! We’ve looked at sleep tips for older adults, for adults and for teens and here in our fourth instalment we’ve saved the littlest until last with ten tips to improve sleep for children.
Ten sleep tips for children
With children it’s where it all begins, our relationship with sleep is established and so can begin the foundations for a lifetime of positive sleep. Oh if only it were that simple eh?! If your child isn’t a ‘good’ sleeper, whatever that means, we have ten tips to help you help them on their way to happier times in slumber-land.
- Keep calm and do it again. A bedtime routine is important at any age but children aren’t necessarily born with a natural sleep routine, they need your help to develop a calming bedtime routine that will teach their bodies and brains when it’s time for sleep.
- A little respect. Imagine trying to sleep while people shout from end to end of the house, the TV volume blares out, phones ring and lights flick on and off…it’d be tricky at best. Once your child has gone to bed, respect their efforts to go to sleep as you would if an adult in the house were trying to sleep.
- Animated. If your child loves TV (and let’s face it, most children love a good animation) it’s absolutely ok to make it part of their bedtime routine. But, if your child tends to get animated themselves and over-stimulated by TV, perhaps keep TV away from bedtime or carefully select only short calming programmes.
- Drink, drink, drink. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids throughout the daytime to satisfy their needs. However, try and keep the last big drinks at dinner time and cut back on drinking near or around bedtime to avoid your child’s (and your own) sleep being disturbed by toilet trips.
- Playtime’s over. The best way for your child to understand that playtime is over is to put toys away. Once in bed, if your child’s bed is surrounded by toys within easy reach, you can’t be surprised if they’ll take the opportunity for some bonus playtime!
- Goldilocks effect. One of the biggest causes of sleep disturbance at any age is temperature ie feeling too cold or too hot during the night. Children are less likely to identify and articulate this but, if your child is regularly waking at nighttime, it’s well worth eliminating this basic need.
- Sweets for my sweet. We all love indulging our children but sweets near bedtime are the equivalent of us drinking espresso as we tuck into bed. Help your child develop a positive relationship with nighttime sleep by keeping sweet treats away from bedtime.
- Soothing and smoothing. Most children will experience nightmares at some juncture and, around this time, the benefits of a soothing bedtime routine can help them to drift into a more peaceful sleep and also as they may feel anxious even about going to sleep.
- Snap out of it. We can admit it, most parents love their children’s naptimes, those few stolen moments in a day where our constant attention isn’t being demanded. Naps are important in the framework of a younger child’s routine but parents need to be alert to changes in their child’s routines as they grow and – ideally before naps impact on bedtime – to snap them out of their daytime nap routines.
- Comfort. Surprisingly few parents give much thought to the comfort and quality of their child’s mattress. If your child is sleeping on an aged (hand-me-down) or poor quality mattress, it may very well impact on the quality of their sleep.
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