How to get children into a good sleeping routine

Now that school has started back up it's time to get the kids back (or for the first time) into a good sleeping routine. Children aged four and five typically need around 11 to 13 hours sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.


Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep therapist and Silentnight’s sleep expert, says: “Routine is key to children waking up refreshed and feeling ready for bed at a suitable time. The sooner you begin to introduce a sleeping rhythm, the sooner all the family can fall into a healthy sleeping pattern.”

She advises:

1. Start to introduce technology-free time in the evenings

Research has shown that by having a constant stream of light enter our eyes before we go to sleep, we are actually telling our brains that we want to be awake. An hour or so before children go to bed, rule out any blue light. This means no TV, tablets or mobile phones. The bedroom should be a technology free environment.

2. Gradually reintroduce earlier bedtimes

Find out how much sleep your child needs. Reception-age children should be getting over 11 hours a night so gradually shift bedtime earlier over the course of a few days to allow children to adjust and get the right amount of sleep.

3. A calming pre-sleep routine

The few hours before bed can be just as important as actual bedtime. Relaxing baths with lavender, a milky drink or reading are great ways to help children wind down and feel ready for bed.

4. Have a chat

Starting a new school can be worrying for some children, and leave them feeling anxious. Talk to your child about any concerns they may have before bedtime, and encourage simple yoga or meditation by repeating a calming word or by helping them with their breathing techniques, including breathing deeply from the stomach.

5. Create a sleep friendly bedroom

Bedrooms need to be sleep friendly and this means a cool environment. Freshly laundered bedding, possibly lavender fragranced, can make the room feel very calming and relaxing. Again, technology free bedrooms are a must!

6. Exercise is key

It is scientifically proven that exercise can help you get a better night’s sleep. Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways of reducing stress hormone levels (mainly adrenaline) thus enabling you to sleep more deeply. A short walk with children after the evening meal would be the perfect exercise to help them wind down.

7. Good nutritional habits

To help us sleep we need a good balance of the hormones serotonin and melatonin in our system. Sending children off to school with a balanced lunchbox will help to promote a healthy hormone balance. Things such as chicken, cheese, tuna, eggs, nuts and milk are all high in serotonin and are lunchbox friendly.

For more information and sleep tips visit www.silentnight.co.uk/sleep-matters

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