Bedtime stories

Kids’ bedtime routines: 5 golden rules for success

Setting a regular bedtime routine is key to ensure healthy sleep for your children

Getting your kids to go to sleep can be a lot easier said than done. Particularly important during school term time, sleep is vital to the well being and performance of children. Countless studies have shown that those children who get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night are much more likely to perform better at school.

And yet for many parents, getting their children to sleep can seem like an impossible task as they wreak havoc and refuse to rest for the night.

But there are some steps that you can take to ensure that your children are able to get a good night’s rest…

1) No eating

We all know children can be little eating machines, often snacking in between meals. And very often, they love to feast on chocolate and sweets in the evening. Whilst a little in moderation won’t do too much harm, allowing your child too much to eat just before bed time can be a recipe for disaster.

Eating stimulates the digestive system, and the chemicals released during these processes can cause disruption to the body’s sleeping patterns. The sugars in many sweets and treats can also give your child a burst of energy, which is not much fun for you when trying to get them to sleep.

2) Rethink their drink

In much the same way, drinks can often contain a lot of unhelpful ingredients when it comes to sleep. Many fizzy drinks are full of sugar, which can again cause energy peaks and crashes that are bad for sleeping patterns. Some drinks, such as cola, also contain lots of caffeine which is an energy providing stimulant; no good when you want your child to sleep.

Instead, try a glass of water or milk before bed. It will keep them hydrated and doesn’t give them all those unwanted ingredients.

3) Keep a routine

If your child goes to bed whenever they please, there’s a good chance they won’t have a good sleep pattern. By forming a routine, children become aware of when they are expected to go to bed. This sense of routine will also be beneficial to their sleeping habits because the body will become accustomed to when it should be active and when it should be resting.

4) Comfort is king

It might seem obvious, but kids are more likely to be able to relax in an environment where they feel comfortable. It’s important to keep the room decorated to suit their age and tastes. A comfortable bed is also an essential factor in promoting good sleep. By making their bedroom a relaxing and comfortable place to be, children are more likely to enjoy better sleeping habits.

5) Turn the TV off

If your child watches television, surfs the internet or plays computer games right up until they go to bed, this could be harming their chances of nodding off. The blue light that is given off from TV and computer screens actually stops the body from producing a substance called melatonin, which is responsible for controlling sleep and wake cycles. This makes it much harder to fall asleep at night, meaning your child could be struggling to get enough rest.

To overcome this, set a curfew of an hour or two before bedtime when all electricals must be turned off. Reading a book before bed can be a much better way for your child to relax ahead of a peaceful night’s sleep.

This guest post is from Relax Sofas and Beds, an online retailer of high quality beds and home furniture based in the UK. Visit the website here.

References

Sleep for Kids: Sleep Tips for All Ages http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/kids-sleep-tips

Fixing Children’s Sleeping Problems Could Improve Grades and Behavior http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/fixing-sleep-problems-may-improve-childs-grades-and-behavior?page=4

Sleep for Kids: Sleep Tips for All Ages http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/recharge/kids-sleep-tips

BBC News – Lack of sleep blights pupils’ education http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-22209818

How artificial light is wrecking your sleep, and what to do about it http://chriskresser.com/how-artificial-light-is-wrecking-your-sleep-and-what-to-do-about-it

Photo by GoodNCrazy 

  1. The substance the writer makes reference to is the sleep hormone/antioxidant melatonin. Not only does melatonin regulate our circadian rhythms and sleep, it is vital in fighting certain cancers especially breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, osteoporosis, even maintaining healthy skin. An excellent summary on the benefits of melatonin can be found here:

    http://www.news-medical.net/health/Melatonin-In-Humans.aspx

    Volumes of recent research has determined blue light emitted from everyday sources such as ambient household lighting and perhaps more concerning, the excessive bombardment of blue wavelengths from electronics screens (TVs, PCs, smartphones, tablets and gaming devices) is devastating our sleep patterns. Some researchers have termed this effect as as technological insomnia.

    The amount of blue light necessary to suppress melatonin production is slight. In a landmark study completed at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2012:

    Until manufacturers develop more “circadian-friendly” electronic devices that increase or decrease light exposure based on time of day, one researcher has several recommendations to reduce their effects on sleep. “We recommended dimming these devices at night as much as possible in order to minimize melatonin suppression, and limiting the amount of time spent using these devices prior to bedtime.”

    – See more at: http://news.rpi.edu/luwakkey/3074

    The writer recommends reading a book rather watching TV or viewing some other screened device prior to bedtime. What needs to be noted is that the very light source used to read that book still has enough blue light beaming from it to cause melatonin reduction. Fortunately, there are products available which prevent blue light from reaching one’s eyes. A company called LowBlueLights.com offers what they call their ‘sleep glasses’ which block only the harmful blue light while allowing usual nighttime activities, light bulbs that produce no blue wavelengths and a variety of filters, again which block 100% of the blue light. On their website, LowBlueLights warns that there are various lighting companies (e.g. Definitely Digital Good Night LED) who are selling biologically-corrected white light bulbs that lessen blue light output but still emit enough blue light for suppression. They also have researched competitor screen filters which claim they eliminate blue light transmission (e.g. SleepShield) that blocks a minimal amount of blue light. Columbia University psychologist Michael Terman PhD writes in his Chronotherapy column this week at the PsychologyToday.com website that many unscrupulous companies are making false claims about so-called blue-free bulb and filters that do virtually nothing in the way of helping your sleep because of the high blue output still being transmitted from their products. Incredibly, these companies claim that the appearance of the bulbs and filters do not change yet from the photos used in Terman’s article, it’s obvious that a large amount of blue light is present.

    – See more at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/chronotherapy/201403/ads-and-celebrity-endorsements-can-keep-you-awake

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