10 Top Sleep Tips
Looking forward to an extra hour in bed when the clocks go back? If you have young children you may not be so lucky! The change in time can lead to a lot of very early mornings and upset bedtimes.
Help is at hand thanks to Dave Gibson, Warren Evans bed makers’ sleep expert. Dave is a qualified naturopath, osteopath and hypnotherapist and he provides advice across a wide range of conditions to promote good sleep patterns and quality sleep.
These top sleep tips will help your child, toddler and infant – as well as you mums and dads – manage the extra hour more easily and generally have a more relaxed period as you sync with the new time and season.
- BED TIME… Changing bedtime can be tough, especially with young children, and so plan it over the course of a week, or a weekend, depending on the age and temperament of your little one.
- For babies, try pushing bedtime back by 10 minutes per day, the gradual change of pace will make it more manageable – an extra power-nap late in the afternoon may be needed for very young babies. For young children it’s often easiest to change the bedtime in 15-minute increments over a long weekend, so that it doesn’t affect the school run. For adults, changing the time you go to bed by half an hour can ease the transition.
- GET IN SYNC… Changing bedtime won’t work if the rest of their routine is still set to the old time. As their bedtime shifts, be sure to change bath time, naptime and mealtime to match the new routine. If the bedtime changes are gradual – say 10 minutes over 6 days – then change the other activities by 10 minutes as well. And don’t forget about you! Be sure to adjust your own schedule in the same way you change your children’s. It will make the routine move more easily for everyone if you’re all in sync.
- BEAT THE EARLY RISER… If your child is a born early-riser, then you should consider smaller changes over a longer time period to ensure that the extra hour is fully accounted for. Alternatively, for a late-riser, you may find moving the bedtime back by half an hour rather than an hour will help. This will also give you more time to get ready in the mornings.
- PROMOTE GOOD PRACTICE… If your child is older, they will be able to understand what is happening when they gain the extra hour, but it is still vital that you help guide them to keep a healthy sleep routine. The most important factor is ensuring they are winding down in the evenings, ready for a deep, quality night’s sleep ahead. Encourage them to take a book to bed instead of their mobile phone!
- ACCOUNT FOR THE HOUR… Stretch out the extra hour by making bath time longer, doing some gentle exercises together or adding another bedtime story (or two!). Make the most of daytime by keeping lights bright and curtains open a little longer to encourage children to stay awake.
- BEDROOM ENVIRONMENT… In the night, keep the temperature cool and use black out blinds to ensure the bedroom is completely dark and it is the right environment for good quality sleep. Black out blinds should also stop children being woken up too early by the morning light.
- EAT RIGHT… To help them wind down, always be careful what your child eats close to bedtime. Steer children away from drinks that contain caffeine and things that contain lots of sugar, especially late in the day, as these will mean an untimely boost in energy. If you’re looking for a bedtime snack, try milk, banana or cherries. Milk contains tryptophan, which increases the amount of serotonin a natural sedative, and is absorbed better if eaten with a carbohydrate. This is why a lot of old folk remedies include warm milk and honey. A banana with milk provides vitamin B6, which helps convert the tryptophan to serotonin. Another fruit to consider is cherries as they contain melatonin, which the body produces to regulate sleep.
- TIME ACTIVITY… Plan days with heavy activity in the morning, particularly physical activity, and then a more relaxed and calm afternoon for the days on which you are putting the bedtime later.
- RELAX… If your child has difficulty nodding off then try relaxation exercises to help your children to get themselves off to sleep more comfortably. For example, get them to tense and relax each limb / muscle of the body in sequence to teach them how to let go of tension and bring their focus into their body. Also teach them to breathe from their diaphragm by placing you hand on their belly as they breathe in and out. This will help them relax more easily.
- DON’T WORRY… Regardless, any disruption tends to be temporary. Most infants and children get back on schedule within 3 days to a week.
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