Sleep is as crucial to your child’s good health as exercise and healthy eating. Research shows that sleep problems in children causes difficulties in attention and learning, school performance, behavior, mood, and psychological health. And this is in addition to the physical health impacts of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. Feeling Mummy Guilt yet? Well, try not to because your not alone. The research also shows that 40% of children have a sleep problem. The most common reported difficulties are falling to sleep, waking in the night, and fear of sleeping alone. And if you are feeling stressed about your children’s lack of sleep - that’s normal too. The research found that children’s sleep problems are also associated with poor mental health for parents too.
The good news is that a good bedtime routine and teaching relaxation techniques do successfully address the majority of sleep problems. Here are my top 10 tips to get your children to sleep:
10 tips to get your children to sleep
1. Have a regular bedtime.
2. Make the bedroom a comfortable quiet cool dark place to sleep, with no television or other electronic devices.
3. Have a regular calming bedtime routine. In our home we do bath, teeth, books, then a Dinosnores sleepy story CD.
4. Use a bedtime relaxation CD to teach the children to slow down their mind and body after a busy day.
5. Avoid the “I can’t sleep” argument. Ask children to “lie down and rest their bodies” instead of telling them to “go to sleep”.
6. Avoid TV computer or electronic games two hours before bedtime - as they have all been found to make sleep more difficult. Try encouraging drawing, playdough play, or Lego play instead.
7. Avoid caffeine and sugar saturated foods.
8. Make sure your children get enough exercise.
9. Get the kids outside in the sunshine in the day.
10. Talk to your doctor to rule out medical causes of sleep difficulties, and get support.
Above all, give yourselves and your children permission to find bedtime challenging, and allow time to settle into an improved bedtime routine. Bedtime behaviour do not change overnight - but research shows that they can be changed over time.
Speech Pathologist and Developer of Dinosnores Sleepy Stories CDs available from Babysmiles and other leading baby stores
Ausmumpreneur Top 100 2014.
Best of all mother or two!