As we all know, there is no sweeter sound to a parents ears than that of their little ones snoring away at the end of a long, busy and no doubt stressful day. Getting them off to sleep my be stressful, but for a growing child a healthy sleeping routine is one of the most important steps in their ongoing physical and emotional development.
But sometimes, it can be confusing to know exactly when to get your little ones off to sleep, when juggling hectic work schedules, the pressures of homework from schools and extra-curricular activities. Well, we at el RHEY have devised some handy hints to help outline the do’s and don’ts to ensure a healthy sleep for your children!
HOW LONG SHOULD MY CHILD SLEEP?
To ensure your child grows and develop, getting the correct amount of sleep and rest every day is essential. But with your little ones seemingly a constant bundle of energy, and pressures not to be seen as an overly authoritative parent, it can often be difficult to know exactly how long you should let your little ones’ rest and recuperate. Like most issues of childcare, the answer varies depending on the age of the child. The chart below outlines the number of hours a child should (according to research by the Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic
1 week old
- daytime: 8 hours
- night time: 8 hours, 30 minutes
4 weeks old
- daytime: 6 hours, 45 minutes
- night time: 8 hours, 45 minutes
3 months old
- daytime: 5 hours
- night time: 10 hours
9 months old
- daytime: 2 hours, 45 minutes
- night time: 11 hours, 15 minutes
12 months old
- daytime: 2 hours, 30 minutes
- night time: 11 hours, 30 minutes
2 years old
- daytime: 1 hour, 15 minutes
- night time: 11 hours, 45 minutes
3 years old
- daytime: 1 hour
- night time: 11 hours
For children over the age of 3 years old, around 9-10 hours of sleep per day is recommended to ensure healthy growth. Of course, it can be difficult to ensure 9-10 hours of completely uninterrupted sleep every day, with the flurry of other lifestyle pressures, but the more sleep they get, the greater the health benefit (and the more relaxation time for you!)
SET A ROUTINE
A good way of ensuring compliance and structure from your children, is by setting a strict sleep schedule, and firmly designating a set ‘bed time’. By using relaxation techniques in order to ‘wind down’ your boisterous children, you help prepare them for bedtime and help them settle down. Good ways of doing this include; bubbly, warm baths, playing lullabies or calming music while they lie in bed, or simply reading them bedtime stories can all help relax their muscles and minds and prepare them for sleep.
SETTING THE MOOD
A child’s environment can be just as important in creating the favourable conditions for sleep. Avoid bright, fluorescent or intrusive lighting in theirroom when your child heads to bed; if possible stick to using small lamps or nightlights, as dark environments are hugely conducive to a good sleep.
Temperature is also something important to consider for your little ones; a cold room will inhibit healthy sleep patterns. By either pre-warming their beds with hot water bottles or microwavable heat bags, you create a cosy, snug environment that will induce sleepy feelings in children much faster.
DON’T BE DELAYED/ LEARN TO REASSURE
The prospect of an early, enforced sleep time is unlikely to appeal to many children. Often children will deploy common delaying tactics to try and extend the pre-sleep routine as long as possible; asking to be read another story, asking to sleep in bed with you, or simply explaining they don’t want to sleep. Whilst this sometimes can be a case of sour grapes, often there are more troubling underlying concerns motivating the child’s admissions.
Common bedtime problems that affect younger children include separation anxiety; the fear of being left alone in bed or even the fear of nightmares. Its important you discuss these potential concerns with your child in a frank and reassuring way; once you tackle their fears, they will sleep much more soundly.
As a potential stopgap for separation issues or anxiety, try gifting your little one with a security blanket or teddy bear that they can hold as a substitute; the softer the better. And of course, an extra long cuddle before bed, just for good measure is always bound to help your little one feel reassured!
AVOID SCREENS AND ELECTRONICS
Finally; one of the biggest issues facing children today is the explosion in electronic devices with screens; handheld games consoles, laptops, mobile phones, computer tablets and televisions, all of which are (according to research from the University of Loughborough) contributing to a lack of sleep amongst children and teenagers; the light from the screens of these gadgets having an adverse psychological impact on children’s ability to sleep.
We recommend limiting your little ones from excess usage of electronic gadgets such as these in the evenings, and also monitoring the amount of time spent using them during the day; perhaps encouraging others forms of play or setting designated “gadget free” times to give their mind’s more direct stimulation.
We hope our range of healthy night-time hints suggestions help your little ones (and as a result you) sleep a little bit more soundly in your beds!