Along with good food and exercise, a good night’s sleep is now regarded as one of the pillars for children’s health. Here are some simple tips to make things more manageable and to set your child up with a good sleep routine …
1. Establish a good sleep routine
Have a wind-down routine, which starts about an hour before bed. Computer games, devices and homework should all be stopped an hour before bedtime. A bath, brushing teeth (without a bright bathroom light on) and a bedtime story could be used for younger school kids. Packing books, laying out the school uniform for the next day, all form part of a good sleep habit. If you do the same thing each night before bed, the routine will start becoming a cue to the brain that it’s almost time for sleep.
2. Reclaim your evening
I have recently come across a new App called Moshi Twilight which I recommend as part of a good sleep routine. The App cleverly combines sleep stories with relaxing music and soundscapes which helps your child to drift off quickly. It cleverly does this as the pace of the stories and audio gradually slows down in rhythm to naturally induce sleep. Using Moshi Twilight stories (there are tonnes to download) also saves you from waiting in, or near the bedroom and gives you precious me time back. Once your child is tucked up in bed, you simply turn down the lights, hit the play button, give your child their goodnight kiss and quietly leave the room.
3. Set a good example with the use of technology
Young children always learn by copying what they see and hear around them. I always recommend that if you want your child to adopt good habits – if you have them, they will pick them up too. If you have a break from technology before bedtime it sets the tone. All technology that emits blue light from the screens (the light that wakes us up in the morning) should be stopped at least 60-minutes before bed. Ideally, night-time modes and screen dimmers should be used throughout the evening.
4. Keep the same routine 7 days a week
Our brains and body clock like a consistent sleep routine which means you should ideally maintain this pattern 7 days a week. Try to set that example by getting up at the same time on Saturday and Sunday too. If your child has a 7 day a week consistent sleep schedule, they will find it easier to get to sleep on school nights and therefore wake up refreshed.
5. Establish good habits for all the family
Setting an example could also extend to exercising together, which helps us all to sleep better. Getting your children to exercise more in the day will reduce the time it takes for them to get to sleep and will increase the total time they sleep. Make sure all exercise is finished around two hours before bed, to allow time to settle down. Establish healthy boundaries around caffeinated drinks for the whole family. Caffeine should always be stopped at lunchtime which includes energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, energy drinks, tea, coffee and dark chocolate. This goes for sugary foods and drinks too. If the whole family observe these rules the whole family will sleep better.
About the author
Dave Gibson is the founder of The Sleep Site. Dave has been practising as a Naturopath and Osteopath in London for over 15 years and he is also a qualified hypnotherapist, providing naturopathic advice across a wide range of conditions to promote good sleep patterns and quality sleep.