Parents have been urged to be stricter about bedtime and confiscate phones and tablets at night after researchers found that children who did not get enough sleep were up to twice as likely to become overweight. But what other tips can you give your child to sleep better?
They say counting sheep will send you off to sleep, but sometimes you can find yourself with a mental flock, still wide awake at 3am, are the children doing the same?
If lying awake in the wee hours, unable to get some shut-eye, sounds all too familiar to you and your family, don’t worry. Joy Richards, the sleep specialist at Happy Beds, has a miracle 7 step sleeping programme.
1. Stick to a Routine
It may not sound particularly exciting, but studies show that setting yourself a bedtime routine helps you sleep better. Going to bed at the same time every night and waking to the sound of your alarm at the same time each morning helps to regulate your natural clock and ensure your body ‘recharges’ to its full potential. A regular sleeping pattern will also mean you’re more likely to feel tired before bedtime and therefore will slip off to sleep easier.
Some smart phones even have a handy bedtime app that will tell you when you need to get your beauty sleep- use them to make going to bed fun for kids! Try Sleep Hero which plays a selection of lullaby’s for little children to fall asleep to or Nighty night a narrated story app about what barnyard animals do when the lights go out.
2. Avoid Sleeping In and Forget Naps
Although it may be tempting to sleep in or take a nap when you’re tired, you could actually do more harm than good. A nap or a weekend lie-in could disrupt your natural body clock and sleep pattern that you’ve tried so hard to regulate.
So, don’t forget to set that alarm and, if you find yourself nodding off on the sofa, get up and take a walk around.
3. Switch Off Hours Before Bed
Whether it’s playing games, watching funny videos on Facebook, or answering snap chatting friends, try to resist using you children using their phone or computer for an hour or so before bed. The soft blue glow of screens on mobile phones, laptops and tablets can supress melatonin levels and stimulate your brain making you feel wide awake, rather than sleepy.
4. Invest in Comfort
If you’re struggling to get a quality night’s sleep then it may be worth considering a new mattress if it’s because you’re not as comfortable as you could be – particularly if your mattress is more than eight years old. There’s a little bit of Goldilocks in all of us, and getting the perfect mattress could mean the difference between you getting your 40 winks or not.
If your mattress is sunken in places and lacking support, it may be time to invest in a new bed – and particularly if your mattress is more than eight years old. Whether you’d prefer a standard pocket spring or something a little fancier, like memory foam, make sure to check the mattress firmness rating to ensure you find one that’s just right.
5. Get (and stay) active
It’s well known that getting out in the sunshine can wake you up in the morning, but getting active outside could also help you sleep better at night too.
We’re not always assured of it in the UK, but sunshine, like a set sleeping pattern, will regulate your body clock. A recent study by Oregon State University found that 150 minutes of rigorous or moderate exercise provided a 65% improvement in sleep quality. Plus, there are so many added benefits of feeling physically fitter and healthier!
6. Cut Down on Caffeine…
Ok maybe your kids are not drinking coffee, but coca cola and other fizzy drinks have a high caffeine content!
Try foods and drinks that can help them snooze. Milk is filled with the amino acid tryptophan which will help you doze off easier, and salmon is high in Vitamin B6 which helps male melatonin – the sleep-inducing hormone.
7. Make Bedtime fun
Invest in a bed your children will want to get into like the Happy Beds Bus Bunk bed or the superhero inspired Starry Blue Tent Bed. Whether your child is interested in super heroes, pirates or space a fun sleeper bed will have kids running to their bedrooms.