Old, young or middling, it really doesn’t matter, whatever age you find yourself one thing remains constant – we all need good quality sleep.
Getting enough shuteye gives us energy, reduces stress and even improves our immune system meaning we can fight off those pesky colds and flus. Being well-rested increases our creativity, productiveness, accuracy and even gives us a more positive outlook on life.
All of the above are just a tiny fraction of the reasons quality sleep is so important to us. And all of the above are exactly why it is vital to teach your children to have a healthy attitude to sleep at an early age.
But knowing your child needs to get quality sleep and actually making sure they do are two very different things. As we all know, getting the little to sleep at night is sometimes the hardest thing in the world. Well don’t worry, before you go crushing some horse tranquilizers into their cornflakes (just kidding!), here are some handy tips to help you get started…
Get into a good bedtime routine
Humans are creatures of habit and whether you are a crinkly old man or a tiny little toddler, your body adores routine. Establishing a good bedtime routine for your child is essential, and this goes a long way past simply making sure they brush their teeth before bed.
The aim of a good bedtime routine is to ensure that by the time their little heads touch the pillow they are actually ready to sleep. That means gradually reducing their levels of mental stimulation the closer it gets to lights out.
Start off by setting a realistic bedtime for your nipper, and then stick to it. No slipping here. Then wind the clock back an hour and start their bedtime routine from there. Why not start with a bath, then change them into their pjs, brush their hair and then read them a bedtime story.
Following these simple steps in the same order each and every night will help their young mind know that sleep in on the horizon and it will start to get ready for it.
Need a good book recommendation, I highly recommend The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin. Written in consultation with sleep therapists and psychologists the book is packed full of devilishly clever linguistic tricks and subliminal messages designed to nudge the young reader closer and closer to sleep. That and it has a super fun story.
For more tips and tricks on anything sleep-related, check out the The Sleep Advisor.
Ensure their bedroom is designed for sleep
Painting a giant mural of Jungle Book characters on your little one’s wall may seem like a great project for dad but having tigers and snakes peering down on them during the night isn’t going to junior’s sleep any favors. Your child’s bedroom should a calming environment, one that feels like a safe haven that they will be happy to retreat to when tired.
To achieve this effect decorate their room in calm, relaxing colors. I am talking about light blues, yellows, and greens here. Keep their toys tucked away out of sight at night. Young children are simple enough creatures, the fewer distractions you put in their eye-line the less distracted they will be.
Ensure the room is dark as their little nerves can handle. The darker the better really but as many children have issues with the pitch black by all means utilize a night light. If you do make sure it isn’t too bright, however, choose one just strong enough to keep the monsters under the bed where they belong but not too bright to chase away sleep.
Put the screens away
Screens, screens everywhere and not a wink of sleep!
The temptation to settle the munchkin down on the carpet in front of the TV can sometimes be overwhelming. Parenting is hard and TV can sometimes prove to be the most convenient babysitter when you are off taking care of one of those other 10,000 tasks a mom is responsible for. Where possible, however, fight this urge to turn to the screen. Especially close to bedtime.
In fact, make sure all TVs and all screens for that matter are turned off at least an hour before your child’s bedtime. All screens, no matter the size, emit a form of blue light that leads to an overstimulated mind. The Paw Patrol gang and Dora can wait to do their exploring tomorrow instead.
And while we are at it, making evenings screen free will do wonders for your own sleep patterns too. Getting your kids into this habit at an early age may do wonders for them in later life. For
So, as part of your evening routine, power down early. Again, this habit is something they can continue to bring better sleep into adulthood.
Well, there you go, three tried and test ways to get your nipper into a better position for sleep. There are always going to be those nights when they simply want to swing from the light fittings until 3 am but ensuring you get into healthy routines early on is the key. Good luck and sweet dreams!