If you struggle to get your young ones into a sleep routine, especially during lockdown, then these tips from expert, Suzy Reading, could be just the thing to help.
Suzy is TEMPUR’s sleep expert and chartered psychologist and has offered important tips on how to ensure a good sleep schedule for kids during this continued period of disturbed routines. Kids across the country, much like us adults, are inevitably suffering various adverse effects of this ‘new normal’, including irregular sleep patterns. The time of year doesn’t help either, with kids complaining that bedrooms are too light or too hot to sleep in thanks to the heatwaves and longer daylight hours.
Suzy explained: “Many parents can relate to the struggle of getting kids to bed on time and promoting the chances of them staying in bed until morning. Although the odds can often feel stacked against us, there are ways to make bedtime a more positive experience for kids and create the right environment to facilitate the opportunity for the best possible night’s sleep.”
Suzy’s top tips include:
- A positive sleep relationship: Observe the language you use about sleep, rest and relaxation, and especially how you talk about sleep in front of your children. Avoid using their bedroom or bedtime as a punishment and try instead to talk about sleep and rest in positive ways, explaining why it’s so important for us all. Helping kids connect with their personal ‘why’ of sleep will get them more on board with the idea of bedtime. Explain to children that sleep helps us grow and replenish, focus, and think straight during lessons, enjoy time with our friends more, run fast and perform better in the sports or activities we love.
- Adapt your language: This helps sleep and bedtime be positively associated and something to look forward to at the end of each day. Even wishing them a happy sleep rather than good night can help develop a more positive association with sleep.
- Routine is everything: Kids thrive on certainty and routine, and this certainly applies to sleep and bedtime too. Try to ensure regular and consistent wake up times, evening activities, and a set bedtime as this will boost circadian rhythms, making it easier for kids to feel ready for bed. It’s okay to shift timings to suit the ‘new normal’ as these will undoubtedly need to change because of the current circumstances, but it’s important to remain as consistent as possible with the new timings.
- Wind-down ritual: It’s easy for kids to feel like all the fun is over when it’s time for bed but remind them that it’s just time for a different kind of fun and that bedtime is a time for calming activities that help them relax physically, emotionally and mentally. Follow a routine of fun bubble bath, followed by floor-based bedtime stretches (save the standing up energising yoga for the daytime), breathing exercises, storytelling and reading. Bedtime music can also help kids drift off easier. Make sure they’ve been to the loo as a full bladder can pull them out of a deep sleep, which can contribute to bad dreams.
- Additional tips: Get kids exercising daily to ensure they’re naturally tired by bedtime. Head outdoors for exercise whenever possible and vary activities to sustain their interest. Try cycling, skipping, jogging, dancing, anything to get their bodies moving. Switch all devices and screens off at least an hour before bedtime. Try to avoid giving them dinner too close to bedtime as this can be harder to digest and can give them an energy boost. Similarly, avoid sugary treats for the latter part of the day.