How can I help my child sleep?
It’s so difficult getting your child through school. We all know this, there’s homework, exams, friends, food tech ingredients (the worst!) But what happens when this isn’t going well? When you child is really struggling? Where do you look? As an insomniac child I know how difficult school can be when you haven’t had enough sleep, and don’t we know that well enough as an adult trying to work a day after a long evening.
Let’s not pretend that it isn’t difficult to help your children sleep, reading books and speaking to family when they are babies and young children is a given but no one tells you after that so where do you start?
Here are our Powertutors 9 top tips if your child has sleep problems to get excellent sleep helping with mood, concentration and all over productivity.
No blue light
We’ve all read and heard about blue light screens and how it can affect us from our eyes to our brain and its ability to keep us awake. Our devices are designed to keep us stimulated and engaged so it is essential that we take these away before bed, about an hour seems to be a good amount of time.
Screens are brilliant, especially through the pandemic. They help our children learn through educational apps, tutoring, school lessons and communicating with friend and family, which now more than ever is so important, but we must have separation from them. Our eyes and mind need a break.
Try the one hour before bed no screen-time rule. Before cleaning teeth and getting changed, gadgets are placed away from the bedroom; the living room can be a good communal space.
Set a routine
Having a bedtime routine or sleep schedule is a simple yet effective strategy to set up for a good night's sleep. Once the phone and gadgets are away taking simple steps to complete tasks can leave your child's mind in a positive space. A small achievement to end the day on a high. Keep a consistent bedtime routine and regular bedtime to allow them to be confident in what they are doing and be able to lead it themselves.
Clean teeth, change into pyjammas, get into a made bed (hopefully this in in their morning routine, but in not then make it in the evening) then read for half an hour, lights out and sleep.
If you have younger children try an achievement chart with sticker rewards, so there is a visual representation of their achievement or a new stuffed animal for them to cuddle and hold for night time support.
Reading is a traditional solution but one that is effective. Make sure it is something they enjoy! My brother wasn’t a fan of novels or fiction but enjoyed the newspaper, so my mum bought a paper every day to read. Not every solution is perfect but it's about adapting each part to what your child needs and what their solution is. If they're old enough, encourage them to read themselves if not, then reading them a bedtime story can be a great solution.
Make sure your child's bedroom is a clean and clear space. By this I mean a space that is un-cluttered and can be relaxed in, not too much distraction or busyness.
Try clearing out the room with your child, this will help with not only clearing un used items and donating them to the less fortunate but allowing them to understand that a tidy and clear space is good for their mind.
A good child's bed is so important! Look at their bedding and mattress, ensure it’s suitable, try turning their mattress each year like you would turn your own. Having a comfortable bed is very important, lay in their bed, see how you feel.
Some children sleep better with a night light on. This is okay, it is encouraged to get your child out of the habit of a night light, if that is something that works then brilliant. However, if you have tried and your child prefers and sleeps better with a light then that’s fine. Adapt to them and how they are comfortable. Here's our suggestion
Noise and meditation
Do they fall asleep well to silence? Do they need white noise or talk radio perhaps? Some children and adults have better sleep listing to podcasts or a meditation. There are great apps such as Calm and Headspace to try with a variety of sleep casts.
Meditation can bring clarity and calm before sleep, to think about the day and look forward to sleep
It is good to understand the good and bad parts of a night’s sleep and try different solutions to improve it.
A calm, cool room is best to relax in. Studies have shown that a room that is cooler but with plenty of bedding is the best environment to sleep in. Snuggling and staying warm is far more comfortable than being hot, this will help your child be more comfortable in their own bed and are less likely to leave and come to yours.
I swear by my lavender roll on, it’s a small roller of scent that makes me feel instantly relaxed, you can get pillow sprays and scents of all kinds, they’re worth giving a try for an alternative and extra step for a calm night.
Dreaming, bad dreams and nightmares
Nightmares and dreaming are very usual in children. However, it’s important to understand if they are having nightmares or not, dreaming is great for creativity and imagination but it is good to keep an eye on dreams and what they can mean. Nightmares or night terrors can be an indication of stress and their worries in school and home. Here are some tips:
If they wake up in the night, reassure them that everything is okay and they are safe. It is just a dream and not real, settle them and leave them to fall asleep.
Try writing these down if they are bad and talk about why they might be happening.
Why talking is important
More than anything, continue to talk about their day and night. Make sure you’re aware of any day stress e.g., bullying, school pressure, extra curriculum etc. Continuing to speak about their worries will allow them to understand that it’s okay to discuss and speak and be open. Coronavirus has changed the world and education as we know has been hit so hard. This has changed the lives of children, keep talking about their worries and thoughts to comfort and reassure them.
Seek Medical advice
If you are in need, pediatricians are trained child experts, and can refer to sleep specialists for children, who can help with creating good sleep habits and plans to help with their trouble sleeping. Melatonin can be an option to explore should others options not work, but again do seek medical advice from a doctor or pediatrics specialist.