When you’re young, going to bed can be a scary experience. You’re lying in a dark room, alone, and all you can hear is the house creaking. What if there’s something under the bed or in the wardrobe?
As an adult, it’s difficult to explain to children that there’s no such thing as monsters, and we don’t want them to lose their imagination. If your child is struggling to get to sleep and is keeping you up until the early hours of the morning, we have our tried and tested tips to help, and hopefully you’ll no longer need three coffees before midday!
Create a safe and protected bedroom
Whilst you can’t sit by your child through the entire night, you can employ someone else to do the job for you (don’t worry you won’t be paying wages). Make a special visit to their favourite toy shop and buy them someone special that will know how to keep the ‘monsters’ out. Another method that helps them settle for sleep is to leave the bedroom door slightly ajar, with the hallway light on, so they know you are still nearby. Leaving the light on in the hallway reassures them they are safe, especially if they need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Don’t be stressed before bed
Don’t let your child watch anything even remotely scary before bedtime, as you’ll probably find it keeps them up all night. High levels of cortisol (known as the stress hormone) can prevent your child’s body from calming down and going to sleep. Therefore, activities carried out before bed should be quiet and aim to calm them – don’t let them run around or get into a sibling argument half an hour before bedtime.
Make sure their beds cosy
Your child isn’t going to want to go to bed if they have a bedroom they’re not comfortable in. Invest in some soft, cotton bedding and blackout blinds to make sure they’re warm, comfortable and aren’t going to be kept awake by glare from the lamppost outside. Remember to tuck them in, and make sure they have their favourite tedding snuggled up next to them. It’s also worth checking they aren’t too hot or cold before they fall asleep, as this too may interfere with their sleep.
Create a bedtime routine
Children crave routine – it makes them feel safe and relaxed, as they know what’s coming next. To relieve any anxieties your child may have about going to bed, develop a calming routine. It’s easier said than done (sometimes life/holidays/tantrums gets in the way), but as often as you can create a bath & bed routine. Then you can have time with them after bed to read a book, or tell a story.
If you remain persistent with a routine, you may start to notice your child gets sleepy not long after bath time begins. Hopefully, they’ll fall asleep before you even get a chance to start the book.
Banish electronics in bed
The blue light produced by the TV or computer screen can prevent the production of melatonin – the hormone which makes you feel sleepy. If your little one is watching Peppa Pig half an hour before bedtime, they may feel too awake to go to sleep. Try to stop your child from watching TV or using a computer at least two hours before they’re due to go to bed. Encourage them to do some colouring –in or play with other toys, instead.
Hopefully by using these tips you and your child will begin to get enough sleep. If they begin to improve and sleep through more often, then make sure you reward them… perhaps some new bedding?
Do you have any secret tips to getting your little ones to sleep through, let us know in the comments.