We’ve all heard the phrase ‘to sleep like a baby’, but anyone with children might be left with an eyebrow raised in confusion.
Children often seem to repel sleep like a duck’s feathers repel water.
Whoever finally cracks the ultimate ‘how-to’ in toddler sleep will become an instant billionaire.
For now, however, there are some great life-hacks to tide the bleary-eyed adults over.
Make sleep a priority
As grown-ups, we’re primed to think of sleep as being a rare luxury at the end of a long day. We tend to think of sleep as wasted time. After all, how many chores could we be getting through if we weren’t passed out in snooze-land?
Science, however, tells us differently. Sleep is absolutely vital for many biological functions, including growth, cell-regeneration, and healing.
For children, who expend vast reserves of energy growing bones, muscles, and neural pathways, sleep is at least as important as being awake, if not more important.
If you start to think about sleep as being crucial, it can help you turn your home into a positive sleep-focused environment.
Start the bedtime routine earlier
Routine is everything when it comes to bedtime. Humans thrive on routine, and the body quickly learns to accept that processes have an inevitable outcome. The bedtime routine lets children wind down for the day, whilst also relaxing them enough that they finally switch off.
Starting the routine earlier can reach that desired outcome – sleep – much more quickly. Try moving teatime forwards by half an hour, or setting yourself personal time goals for when you want various stages of the sleep routine to be completed.
Create a sleep-inducing environment
We now know that environment is crucial for good sleep. It’s true for adults and for children.
Environmental control is about working with a child’s senses. It’s helpful to minimise distractions, such as light and noise, whilst maximising calming senses, such as smell. For instance, lavender is well known to help adults and toddlers calm down after a hectic day.
Having a safe, hygienic mattress topper can also create a comfortable low-allergenic space. There are plenty of experts around, such as Dozy Owl, who offer an informative blog that focuses on both baby and adult sleep, and who can help in finding a suitable mattress topper.
Shut off the screens
Frightening evidence has now shown that the blue light of screens is a major sleep disruptor. The science is very straightforward. LED light prevents the production of melatonin, which is the crucial hormone that tells our brain and body that it’s time to sleep. None of us should be looking at screens just before bed, but especially children, whose awake-brains are permanently in a hyper-engaged learning mode.
Keep the same sleep routines on weekends and vacations
Lots of us slip out of our normal routines when we don’t have to be in the office first-thing. This is fine. However, the adjustment of getting back into a normal routine is never pleasant, and can be particularly difficult for children.
Whilst we all deserve a lie-in every now and again, keeping to your normal routine can save a lot of hassle further down the line.
In a few years time, when you’re trying to prize unwilling teenagers out of bed at 3 pm, you might look back fondly on the days when the kids were up with the larks. However, children of all ages need good quality sleep, and so do their parents. Making sleep a core focus of your daily routine is a good step in the direction of finding a happy equilibrium.