TEN LITTLE STEPS TO THE LAND OF NOD
TURN all screens off at least half an hour before bath time and don’t have TVS or computers in the bedroom.
ROUTINE IS VITAL
A CONSISTENT bedtime routine will help your child feel safe, and ready to sleep, although Andrea warns that parents with more than one child must be organised.
TRY to get homework done well before bedtime. It’s nice to have quiet time together before bed, chatting or reading.
AVOID fizzy drinks, chocolate or other foods containing stimulants. Encourage your child to have a nourishing evening meal which is rich in carbohydrate and protein.
GIVE THEM A COMFY BED
MAKE sure your child’s bed and mattress are comfortable, and they have the right amount of bedding for the room temperature.
DURING the preparation for bed, give your child or children your fullest possible attention, and try not to take telephone calls.
“As well as feeling safe, children need to feel loved in order to sleep well,” explains Andrea, “so show your child how important they are by giving your time, even if that time is being shared with siblings.”
BATH THEN BED
HAVING a bath will only promote sleep if it’s immediately before bed, otherwise it may give children a second wind. So after your child’s bath or shower they should go directly to their bedroom rather than coming back into the living room.
DON’T USE BEDROOMS AS PUNISHMENT
CHILDREN need to have happy associations with the room in which they sleep if they’re going to really relax and sleep well.
GIVE REASSURANCE FOR SLEEP PROBLEMS
SCHOOL-AGE children can demonstrate a wide range of sleep difficulties, including settling problems, delayed sleep onset, waking during the night and nightmares. Andrea says that with most simple settling and waking problems, parents should work with their child to reassure them and help them to go to sleep happily and alone.
“It’s quite normal for all of us to wake several times during the night,” she says, “and if you’re with your child when they go off to sleep, they’ll need to get you back to act as a sleep prompt at later wakings.”
DON’T LET THEM GET IN YOUR BED
IF YOUR child is accustomed to getting into your bed during the night, they’ll wake in anticipation of this move, warns Andrea. “Knowing they’re going to be moving during the night actually prevents many children from being able to sleep really well,” she adds.