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Tips to get your child to sleep early

4th September 2016

The effect that sleep has on children cannot be underestimated. Young children need more sleep than adults; around 11-14 hours a night depending on their age. Getting the right amount of slumber can affect a child’s health, happiness and performance at school. However, over the summer holidays, bedtimes may have become slightly more relaxed and therefore, getting your children back into a school time routine could be a dreaded task.

But it doesn’t have to be a chore if you’re prepared, so take a look at our top tips to help get your child to sleep early.

Establish good habits.

It’s inevitable that during the summer holidays you may have become slightly lenient with you child’s bedtimes. Re-establishing earlier bedtimes a week or so before school starts is ideal for getting your kids to settle slowly back into the old sleep cycle. Try to create a bedtime routine that kids associate with sleep, such as reading to them just before bed, or giving them a bath. When school does begin again, try not to let your children oversleep too much at the weekends, as this could impact negatively on Sunday night when they are struggling to fall asleep.

Make sure that you promote other good habits, such as avoiding giving your children fizzy or caffeinated drinks before bed. Also uphold a practice of turning technology off a few hours before lights out. Melatonin is the chemical that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Melatonin levels are at their highest at nighttime when children are about to fall asleep. Bright lights from electronics can suppress the secretion of melatonin, which could reverse nighttime drowsiness.  

Sleep stars

Rewards systems can work wonders for children. Every time a child is in bed and ready to sleep by their decided bedtime, they get a sleep star. If they have enough by the end of the week, they can trade in their stars for a treat at the weekend. Why not create a ranked system? For example, a three star treat, a four star treat and a five star treat.

Maintain a calm atmosphere before bedtime

A quiet, serene atmosphere in the home just before bedtime could be prove valuable to getting your kids in the mood to sleep. Dim the lights, and make sure the house isn’t too warm, as both bright lights and high temperatures can interfere with people’s ability to drop off. If there are still noises outside or in the house, turn on a fan to drown out external noises, or buy a CD of white noise.   

Battle the nightmares

A common reason that children might not want to fall asleep is because they are frightened of the dark, or nightmares. To combat these issues, there are a few tricks you can try. Peel the label off a spray bottle, fill it with water or another safe liquid, and apply your own homemade label reading ‘Anti-Monster Spray’, which you can squirt around the bedroom with your little one. You could even get them their own nighttime guard to station outside their door, or a sleeping buddy, both of which can come in the form of a new cuddly toy. To tackle nightmares, using psychology techniques could be useful; try hanging a dreamcatcher above your child’s bed, or talk to your child about their nightmare and encourage them to imagine something silly that could have happened instead to ease the fear-factor a little.

Encourage independent sleeping

Some children like to have a lot of parent attention and contact at bedtime, and you could find yourself re-entering their bedroom multiple times in a bid to get them to drift off. While it’s very nice to spend time rocking and singing your child to sleep, try not to make it an everyday habit as eventually your child might not be able to fall asleep without this attention. Try and give your children the confidence to fall asleep on their own by avoiding too much co-sleeping or excessive attention. If your child wakes in the middle of the night, and wants your care, try and be boring; don’t play with them or talk too much. Gently but firmly, guide them back to bed with a simple ‘good night’. Obviously, much of this depends on your child’s personality and your own personal parenting style.

Teach your kids why sleep is important

Try and explain to your children why it’s important that they get enough sleep, using reasons they can relate to. For example, tell them that they might find sums easier, or they might have more energy to play with their friends. You could even throw in a few fabricated reasons, such as “Spider-Man always makes sure he gets 10 hours sleep every night to help him fight criminals”.

Here at Tiny World, we understand the importance of sleep for your children, and aim to promote the benefits of sleep to your youngsters. The warm, friendly environment of our Nottingham and Mansfield nurseries offers a relaxed sanctuary where your little ones can play and learn. Call our team today to arrange a chat or visit.