This page contains some support fto promote children's healthy sleep.
The NHS provide a range of support for children's sleeping needs
- self help advice on the NHS website . https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/healthy-sleep-tips-for-children.
- for issues around sleeping from health your GP, as sometimes an underlying health need may be the cause of the sleeping issue.
- the school nursing team. You can self refer to school nursing via the early Help Hub or school can do the referral with you.
A good routine is important to help children to develop better sleep habits. You must be consistent when you implement a new routine, your child’s sleep patterns may appear to become worse before they get better as they may try to resist new changes that you make...you need to give any changes at least 2 weeks in order to see results.
Here are some ideas for developing a good bedtime routine:
Do the same thing at the same time each day, including waking your child at the same time each morning, this will strengthen their body clock. Yes we know this is hard on a Saturday and Sunday, but it is also very important!
Give your child warnings that bedtime is approaching, you may use a visual timetable to show them what is going to happen next.
If your child enjoys bathtime then you should include this within your routine. A bath 30 minutes before bed is perfect for aiding sleep. The decrease in body temperature after getting out of a bath makes us feel sleepy around half an hour later.Switch off computers and televisions an hour before bedtime, these can be very stimulating activities and can hinder a good night’s sleep. Screen activity can also interfere with the body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin!
Fine motor skill activities help children to relax, encourage them to take part in these before bedtime. Colouring in, jigsaws, threading activities all help to promote relaxation. You will need to plan appropriate relaxing activities in advance.
A bedtime story is a lovely way to end the day.
Try some relaxtion teachniques as part pf your child's bedtime routime
Use calming musicto help your child to begin to wind down.
Teach your child to progressively relax the muscles in their body. They can begin by tensing their feet to the count of 5 and then letting them become relaxed. Work up to the calf muscles, thighs and so on until they have relaxed each part of their body.
Encourage your child to concentrate on their breathing and imagine breathing in a beautiful white light and blowing out any worries or troubles each time they exhale.
Caffeine is a stimulant so best avoided in the run up to bedtime. It can be found in hot chocolate and fizzy drinks.
Fruit and natural fruit juice contains sugar which can give children a rush of energy if consumed too close to bedtime.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps us to sleep and is naturally present in dairy products, turkey and oats. So it is true . . . warm milk can help you to sleep!
A light snack as part of the bedtime routine can be helpful. Eating a heavy meal before bed can make it difficult to get comfortable. A well planned supper time can be beneficial, particularly for younger children who may be having their last meal early. Cereal can be a healthy supper time choice but check those sugar content
Decorate in neutral, calming colours, bright colours can be over stimulating.
Never use the bedroom as a place where your child is sent as a sanction. The bedroom should be a place that is viewed positively.
Watching television is very stimulating and can interfere with the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Make the
bedroom a screen free zone, this includes computers and mobile phones.
Make sure that toys are covered or stored away – they can be tempting for little ones to get out of bed and play with.
Consider what is on display in your child’s room. Could the posters be over stimulating or even scary in the darkness?
Avoid props such as mobiles and light shows to help your child to sleep. Any conditions in place at the start of the night need to continue throughout the night.
A dark bedroom environment can help to support a good night’s sleep. Blackout blinds can be helpful, particularly during the summer months.
If your child is afraid of the dark or has a visual/hearing impairment they may find a totally darkened room makes them feel anxious. If you use a nightlight then choose one with a soft glow that can be safely left on all night.
Never have the bedroom too warm. Ideally the bedroom temperature should be around 16 to 18 degrees.
If your child is noise sensitive, white noise can help to mask out background noise
if your child holds onto lots of worries discuss the worries with them well before bedtime. Make time everyday to talk about their day.