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Sleep pattern study

Sleep pattern study


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.