How to establish a bedtime routine
Night-time can be a power struggle when it comes to getting children to go to bed on time. The constant going up and down the stairs can be exhausting. It’s important to get enough time to yourself so that you can wind down from the day before you go to bed. Yet unfortunately many see this as a luxury rather than a nightly occurrence.
A consistent bedtime routine should be at the forefront of your family routine. Without adequate sleep for yourself and your children you will both suffer, so it’s time to set boundaries and schedules.
For children aged 3-5 sleep is needed for 11-13 hours and for 5-12 year olds 10-11 hours. Regardless of whether it’s a weekday or weekend, it’s advisable to keep to the same bedtime and waking up times. This will help to ingrain the pattern and get the children’s circadian rhythm regular, so naturally your children will start feeling tired and go to bed on time.
However it’s not always that simple. Children need bedtime cues in order to wind down and get themselves ready for bed. A bedtime routine should last around half an hour.
- Create a relaxing environment for sleeping. Try not to use the bedroom as somewhere they go for timeouts. It’s important they associate the bedroom with sleep as opposed to seeing it as a punishment. The bedroom needs to be associated with positive feelings and somewhere they can fall asleep with ease.
- Encourage calm before bedtime with activities such as reading rather than games. Ideally children shouldn’t be on electrical equipment such as game consoles or watching television the hour before bed as this will stimulate them and wake them up.
- Ensure the room is dark to encourage the sleep hormone melatonin. Use a nightlight if your child doesn’t like the dark rather than leaving the door ajar. They are more likely to be distracted from sleep with sounds going on elsewhere if the door is open.
- With older children, check their bags to see they haven’t left anything important for the morning. Talk over the day with them and get any worries off their mind.
- Reinforce the routine as your doing it. For instance as their having a pre-bedtime bath, let them know that in two minutes they’ll be brushing their teeth, then putting on their pj’s etc.
- A kiss or cuddle is a comforting cue for children just before switching off the light.
If your child is still failing to get to sleep or waking up in the night, review whether they are getting enough exercise in the day. If they’re not using enough energy they will become fidgety in bed and won’t be able to fully rest. Another reason may well be their mattress. If the mattress is sagging or too small, this won’t be providing them with enough support. As your child gets older upgrade a small bed to a large single or small double if you have the room so your child has enough room to spread out.
Author Bio: This article was brought to you by Mattress.co.uk who are a Silentnight discount mattress site. They are dedicated to providing expert sleep advice to encourage a sound night’s sleep.