For many parents, bedtime can be a nighttime struggle.
When the clocks roll forward on March 28th, we will all lose a much-needed hour of sleep, and children are likely to be hit the hardest.
Lockdown has meant most children have been locked in doors longer – making it harder for tired parents to tire them out and get them to bed at a reasonable hour.
Restrictions have also meant that most children had homeschooled by earlier this month.
Extra screen time has also come from higher computer and technology usage — because let’s face it, sometimes it’s easier to leave it to Peppa Pig binge-watching.
The company’s experts in audio equipment for children’s storytelling tonies Say it’s never been more important to establish a healthy sleep routine for kids, and the last thing parents want on Monday morning are groggy, sleepless kids!
Sleep expert Mandy Gurney, founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic shared her top 5 tips for helping kids fall asleep.
1. Set the scene
Mandy said planning is key when it comes to getting your child to bed at a reasonable time.
She said: “Start thinking about your child’s bedtime an hour before you want your child to sleep.
“Put away toys and turn off all screens, including phones, tablets and computers, as blue light can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
“Also, dim the lights in her bedroom — this also helps with melatonin production.”
Mandy added that during this hour, it’s also best not to give your child any sugary foods and drinks as they could interfere with sleep.
2. Adjust your sleep pattern
While schools have been closed in recent months, children have gotten used to staying up later and sleeping a little later in the morning.
Schools and nurseries have now reopened to all children and the change in routine could impact your child’s sleep routine.
“It can just be a matter of hitting the ‘reset button’ in their sleep routine – if it’s taking them an agonizing hour or more to fall asleep right now, it’s important to teach them how to nod off again after 10-15 minutes.
“The goal of this technique is to advance children’s internal clocks in small increments until they can fall asleep at a more appropriate time,” Mandy said.
To improve your chances of success, Mandy advised keeping a sleep journal.
You should note when your child falls asleep naturally, and then for three nights put your child to bed at the latest time you recorded in the journal.
She added: “Explain to your child that they will be staying up a few days later and keep the details of the times to a minimum.
“When it comes to bedtime, start bedtime about 30 minutes before you put her to bed and keep activities calm, relaxing, and calm.
“Usually say goodnight 15 minutes before your child goes to sleep. 15 minutes later it should be asleep.”
When morning comes, Mandy said to wake her up 15 minutes earlier than usual — this will bring her out into the open as soon as possible to suppress melatonin and reset her circadian rhythm.
She added, “Repeat this pattern, moving bedtime and wake time 15 minutes earlier each, until you reach the time that works for your child’s school schedule.”
3. A good bedtime
Even as an adult, it’s great to have a good bedtime and Mandy says it should be a big part of family life.
Mandy said once you’ve established your routine, try to follow the same steps every night.
She said: “With such a major change in routine when it comes to returning to school, some much-needed stability and a sense of calm can do wonders to ease any anxiety that may have arisen.
“These steps give your child the anticipation that bedtime is coming and give them the familiarity and reassurance they need to be calm and relaxed before bedtime.”
4. Relaxation is key
Even adults find it difficult to switch off and the same is true for children.
Mandy recommends not giving your child a warm bath for more than ten minutes.
She said you should avoid making that bath before bed an opportunity to play to prevent overstimulation before bed.
“Afterward, go straight from the bathroom to the bedroom. To keep the routine focused, it’s best not to go back into the living area or your child may become distracted,” Mandy added.
5. Bedtime stories and soothing sounds
Many children look back on bedtime stories with fond memories.
Mandy suggests that you finish bedtime with a story every night.
She said: “Hearing popular stories will help your child relax and this will soon become a familiar part of their bedtime routine, connecting your child to the end of the day and time to sleep.”
Mandy said products like Sleepy Time Tonies can help because they feature popular characters from shows like In the Night Garden.
“Avoid discussions or lots of chatting during this time as this could over-stimulate your child’s brain.
“After a goodnight kiss and cuddle, you leave the bedroom: you should be asleep about 15 minutes later,” she added.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/2591774/clocks-forward-5-tips-kids-sleep/ When the clocks are put forward this weekend