27th November 2014Top 10 tips to children sleep better at night
Mandy Gurney’s Top Ten Tips to Help your Child Sleep Better
Good sleep habits can not only take the stress out of bedtime, but can also help to make it a special time for you and your child. With lights out leading to weekly tantrums from one in five (20%) children aged between three and six, most children’s sleep struggles can often be addressed with a simple yet practical solution.
Recent research from Dream Lites*, the cuddly bedtime toys, reveals that the average three to six year old child awakes three times in the night, with almost half (46%) of mums regularly awaking to soothe their infant back to sleep.
Dream Lites has teamed up with sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, Mandy Gurney, to create a simple guide for parents to help their young children to sleep better. If you are unsure why your child has difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep, take a look over this handy checklist - implementing small changes could make all the difference for your family come bedtime:
1. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time
Encourage a regular sleep-wake schedule for your child with no more than one hour’s deviation from day to day, including weekends. This will help regulate your child’s internal body clock and ensure they are getting the right amount of sleep. Your child’s wake up time is just as important as their bedtime since our body clocks are reset every day by the time we get up in the morning.
2. Avoid stimulating activities in the hour before bedtime
Have a quiet wind down period about an hour before your child goes to bed. Turn off the TV and any computers; bright lights from screens can interfere with production of the sleep hormone melatonin that is responsible for making us drowsy. Instead use this time for reading, doing puzzles, listening to a story tape and chatting about the day with your child.
3. Stick to a set bedtime routine
It is never too late to establish a bedtime routine. Aim to carry out the same series of steps each night, around 30 minutes before your child goes to bed. This routine may include a short warm bath and a quiet story, before lights out with a purposeful “goodnight”. Make it low-key and relaxing – it is repetitive for you, and may even get boring, but it is worth it for the long-term benefits to your child’s sleep pattern.
4. Enforce clear boundaries for bedtime behaviour
This applies to you as well as your child! If you have said you will give your child one cup of milk in bed, do not be talked into fetching a second. Once boundaries start to become stretched, most children will push further. Most requests for a drink or another trip to the toilet are excuses to string out bedtime and should be resisted so that they do not become a habit.
5. A healthy sleep environment
The bedroom should ideally be a comfortable temperature of 18 degrees. Warm temperatures can disturb sleep, and research shows a hot room leads to more wake time and a lighter sleep at night.
Our biological clocks are regulated by light. Make sure your child has time playing outside every day so they are exposed to natural light. Ensure their bedroom is dimly lit; darkness triggers the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. If your child wakes early in the morning consider black out blinds to block out morning light.
6. Teach your child a settling routine that does not rely on props that require your presence
Children who rely on props at bedtime, such as your presence, are more vulnerable to waking later in the night. As your child comes into light sleep phases, which we all do throughout the night, they are likely to look for you to help them to get back to sleep.
7. Leave your child awake when you say goodnight
This will teach your child to get to sleep by themselves, which is beneficial for both of you.
8. Ensure your child is asleep within 15 to 20 minutes of leaving them
This is the maximum amount of time it should take your child to fall asleep. If a child is awake for long periods at bedtime some can become anxious that they cannot sleep – even as bedtime approaches they start to worry, leading to an anxious and stressful time for everyone. Check that your bedtime routine is quiet, focused and relaxing and that your child is not dozing or napping in the day, if not appropriate for their age.
Avoid allowing your child caffeine four to six hours before bedtime, since tea, coffee and fizzy drinks can profoundly disrupt night-time sleep.
Sugary sweets at bedtime will not only give your child a boost of energy hindering them from falling asleep, but research has also shown them to be a cause of nightmares. Instead, encourage your child to have a bedtime snack of foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan. These foods are thought to make some people drowsy, and include bananas, warm milk, oat biscuits, wholegrain low-sugar cereals, eggs and chicken.
10. Keep bedtime stress-free
Do not use bedtimes to discuss any difficulties or anxieties relating to today or tomorrow. This can unearth difficulties from your child’s day, which may interfere with sleep. Try to get these types of discussions out of the way by teatime.
Mandy Gurney, sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, said: “However hard and boring a bedtime routine for kids may seem after a long day, it is vital to enable everyone in the family to have a good night’s sleep. Just setting aside 30 minutes at the end of the day with a simple, quiet, relaxing bath, a calm story and kiss goodnight is well worth the effort.”
If, despite your best efforts, your child continues to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep during the night or has nightmares or night terrors, they may have a genuine sleep problem. Talk to your GP or health visitor about your concerns.
26th November 2014Sleep pattern study
SLEEP-DEPRIVED PARENTS RELIANT ON BEDTIME BRIBERY
Parents resort to TV and sweets for tireless tantrum-throwing tots
26 November 2014 - Forget story time, sleep-deprived British parents are taking unconventional steps to get their children into bed, including allowing their children to stay up and watch TV until they fall asleep (20%), bribing them into bed with the promise of presents (10%) and even allowing them sweets at bedtime (9%).
Lights out leads to weekly tantrums from one in five (20%) children aged between three and six, with one in six (16%) parents having fallen asleep in their child’s room whilst trying to get them down.
A study conducted by Dream Lites, the cuddly bedtime toys, reveals a story and slumber time snack is the perfect antidote for those struggling to lull their children off to sleep, with over a third of youngsters wanting one more story told to them before lights out (35%) and a little something to combat their hunger or thirst pangs (34%). Sadly, almost one in 10 (9%) parents nationally and 14 per cent in London report being too busy for bedtime rituals such as storytelling.
The average child aged between three and six goes to sleep at 7.22pm and awakes at 6.46am, having woken three times in the night, disturbing their parent’s sleep. Mums suffer most with half (46%) regularly getting up to soothe their infant back to sleep, compared to under a quarter (21%) of dads. All this night time toing and froing means a quarter (24%) of parents are unable to recall the last time they enjoyed a good night’s rest.
Parent’s fatigue spells bad news for employers too, as almost one in 20 (4%) parents admit to having fallen asleep at work following a sleepless night with their child. The new research, which surveyed over 1,500 parents of kids aged three to six, also found that energy drinks and coffee are vital for helping one in seven (14%) working parents through a day in the office.
Whilst it is clear parents are adopting more unusual techniques to get their children off to bed, youngsters are equally inventive with their excuses for staying up, including being scared of the dark (26%).
Mandy Gurney, sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, said: “Parents can easily find themselves resorting to TV or bribery to get their children off to bed at the end of a busy, tiring day. Though such techniques appear to work in the short term, they may have the opposite effect in the long term. Children who rely on props at bedtime are more vulnerable to waking later in the night – as the child comes into light sleep phases, which we all do throughout the night, they are likely to seek such props to help them get back to sleep again.
“However hard and boring a bedtime routine for kids may seem after a long day, it is vital to enable everyone in the family to have a good night’s sleep. Just setting aside 30 minutes at the end of the day with a simple, quiet, relaxing bath, a calm story and kiss goodnight is well worth the effort.”
Gemma Lewington, marketing manager at Dream Lites, the soft toys, says: “A good night’s sleep is perhaps something we all take for granted until our little ones come along, so it’s comforting to learn that we, as parents, are united when it comes facing bedtime struggles. Almost a third (32%) of children wake their parents each morning, and even if you have had a relatively sleepless night, a morning family cuddle is a lovely way to start the day.”
From the makers of Pillow Pets, the all-round cuddly friends, Dream Lites soft toys create an enchanting and tranquil environment that help children to drift off into a restful sleep by turning the ceiling of their room into a colourful starry night sky. Dream Lites commissioned the research to explore the difficulties plaguing the nation’s parents come bedtime.
Top 10 excuses children give for not wanting to go to bed
1. Claim not to be tired
2. Want one more story told to them
3. Claim to be hungry/thirsty
4. Want to stay up to watch their favourite TV show
5. Scared of the dark
6. Wants to play on iPad/tablet
7. Doesn’t want to miss out on the fun
8. Sibling is not going to bed yet
9. Wants to play on their games console
10. Scared that their cuddly toys will come to life after they go to sleep
Top 10 techniques used by parents to get their children to sleep
1. Allow them to sleep in parent’s bed
2. Allow them to stay up and watch TV until they fall asleep
3. Pretend to fall asleep in their room with them
4. Actually fall asleep in their room with them
5. Allow them to play with an iPad/games console in bed until they fall asleep
6. Promise to buy them a present
7. Drive them around in the car
8. Gave them sweets
9. Tell them they won’t get any Christmas/birthday presents if they don’t go to bed
10. Tell them a white lie
About Mandy Gurney:
Mandy Gurney is the founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic.
Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic was established in 2000 and is the longest established sleep clinic in the UK, and the only to offer sleep training for children through from babies to adolescence. It has an excellent reputation globally and is regularly featured by national media and parenting websites, as well as industry experts. Since 2007 Millpond has been running sleep training workshops for NHS staff across the UK, and is the only independent company to do so.
Mandy Gurney is the author of sleep bible, “Teach Your Child to Sleep”, published by Hamlyn Books.
For more information about sleep and Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, please visit www.millpondsleepclinic.com.
3rd August 2012EEK that's me on TV!!
Have you seen me? Have you seen me on TV?
I was a bit embarrassed to begin with, but Bumbly Bee sat me down and told me to stop being so silly. She said I looked lovely.
You see me quite a few times actually. First I am providing a comfy seat for the girl while she cuddles Magical Unicorn. Then I get a close up, laid out on the table showing me off as a pillow and then finally I am snuggled up in bed while the girl sleeps on me happily. I think that’s one of my favourite places to be.
Did you spot Bumbly Bee going into the washing machine?? She was very nervous before that happened but she said it felt great being all lovely and clean again. Plus we all though she looked brilliant afterwards...you couldn’t even tell. She was just as cuddly as before!
In case you haven’t seen it yet. Catch the Pillow Pets advert below. Be warned though, the song is addictive; you will be singing it all day! La la la.
Lots of love
Ms. Lady Bird