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How To Get Your Child Back Into A Sleep Routine

How To Get Your Child Back Into A Sleep Routine

Do you understand the struggle of getting your child to sleep, particularly during the summer holidays? You are not alone. In the UK, 1 in 5 (23%) 7-16-year-olds suffered from sleep problems three or more times over a week. With later nights, more activities and easier access to electronics, this figure could increase during the summer holidays.

If you are experiencing this, the good news is that change doesn't take as long as you might think. If your child struggles to sleep, one of the easiest things you can control is their sleep hygiene or bedtime routine. Before you worry that this could take a significant amount of time, studies have shown that you can improve a child's bedtime routine in just a few nights.

So, if you start Monday, you could see a marked improvement by Thursday.

The aim is consistency. You must stick to the routine to ensure your child knows it is time for sleep. The study also revealed that bathing, massage and other quiet activities helped children improve their routine. Moreover, a bedtime routine instilled in a child can have benefits that last years later.

But is that the case when the nights get lighter?

Little girl sleeping with teddy bear

3 tips to keep your children asleep when it is light

The lighter nights and longer days may mean longer play times for your children, but they can also harm sleep. There's no denying that getting children to sleep in the light and heat is hard, but these tried and tested methods will get your children to sleep.

Dim the lights one hour before bedtime

Light is the enemy of sleep as it can inhibit the production of melatonin, your sleep hormone. So, if you are reading to your child, getting them into their pyjamas or even bathing them, start by dimming the lights at least one hour before bedtime.

You could even go one better and switch the light in their bedroom to red as red light can stimulate melatonin production, encouraging their brain to recognise it is time to sleep.

Don't forget the blackout blinds

In summer, blackout blinds can prove a bedtime best friend - especially if you have a child who feels restricted and even scared when trying to use an eye mask. However, if your child is afraid of the dark, instead of using blinds or curtains that allow daylight, install blackout blinds but opt for a night light.

You can get nightlights with special lights to ensure they do not wake the child up or activate the brain to start producing cortisol, which it naturally does when it is time to get up.

Stop screen time before bed

Screen time, just like daylight, will stop your child from sleeping. However, we understand that during the summer holidays, bedtimes can be later. But screen time must be stopped two hours before bed. But you can make your life easier by following these steps:

  • Get them excited for bed by letting them pick out their pyjamas and books. But opt for breathable cotton pyjamas in bed
  • Start bathtime (opt for cooler baths if they are struggling in the heat)
  • Get bedtime drinks ready
  • Read to your child, or if they are a little older, use an audible book to help lull them to sleep

Little girl sleeping in bed

How is a bedtime routine beneficial for children?

A bedtime routine, essentially, means consistency. Do the same thing each night to help your child stay asleep, and they will begin to understand and adapt to the routine. As mentioned, the benefits for the child can be seen years ahead. But the benefits for you include your child staying asleep longer, waking up less during the night and even falling asleep much easier.

While a routine can take just a few days to improve, we recommend starting the back-to-school routine two weeks before your child is due back in school. This is because it can be a marked difference of six weeks of a less consistent routine to go straight back into the school routine.

If you want to start their routine in mid-August or earlier if your child is in Scotland, we recommend beginning their routine no later than the third week of July.

However, there are do's and don'ts of bedtime routines…

Little girl asleep with cat

What not to do at bedtime

While you can do things to get your children to sleep and in a consistent routine, there are common mistakes that can disrupt the chance of your child sleeping.

1. Don't wear your kids out at bedtime

You might think that running around and letting the child 'exhaust' themselves will make them tired for bedtime. However, this could have the opposite effect. Letting them run around could make them more energetic and make your life harder when trying to get them to lie still after running around five minutes ago.

2. Don't try to get them asleep when overtired

If your child is overtired and you think this might be the perfect time to sleep, it is not. This could result in your child getting a burst of energy and starting to wake up or even result in an unhappy child taking longer to fall asleep.

3. Don't let them sleep in to catch up on sleep

If your child has had some late nights, you may feel tempted to let them sleep in to recover and catch up on sleep. Don't do this. The difference in wake times is detrimental to their sleep and will stop them from waking up and falling asleep when needed during the week. Instead, be consistent and stick to the same bedtime and wake-up time every day during the week.

4. Avoid stimulating activities before bed

This might be harder than it looks, but avoid any mentally stimulating activities or electronic devices. Instead, stick to books, audiobooks or any other calming activity to ensure they don't find a way to stay up later.

5. Don't opt for complete silence

If you live in a busy household with other children and pets or even in a busy area, silence can be distracting when trying to get your child to sleep. Any movement outside, or even a pet moving, can stop your child's slumber. So, get them used to white noise. This is beneficial not only for babies but also for older children and adults, blanketing any external noise so that your child can nod off more easily.

Once you introduce white noise, your child will recognise and associate the noise with sleep, making bedtimes a little smoother. For more tips on getting your child to sleep, check out our range of kids' beds and even how to decorate your child's room to stop nightmares.

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