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Thursday, 31 May 2012

6 ways of ensuring your child gets a good night’s sleep

Photo by Tim Wilson
The lighter mornings and evenings are wonderful but they do have one drawback: they can play havoc with your sleeping patterns.

Adults aren’t the only ones to suffer; summertime’s sudden arrival can be particularly disruptive to children’s sleeping habits. It can be hard to convince a child to go to bed at 8pm on an early summer’s evening when there is still so much light in the sky and so much life on the streets.

Similarly, sunlight tends to flood through the gaps in bedroom curtains far earlier – a trigger which tells young children it is time to rise and shine even when breakfast time is many hours away.

So how do you ensure that the change of seasons doesn’t affect your child’s sleeping patterns?

1. Make sure your kids stay busy during the day

If kids stay active during the day then they should have no problem getting to sleep at their normal going-to-bed time; even if it is still sunny when their head hits the pillow. Sunny weather provides the perfect conditions for kids to run around outside and tire themselves out – setting them up for a solid night’s sleep.

2. Explain to them why they are going to bed when it’s still sunny

Young children will be naturally confused that they used to go to bed when the skies were dark and now, a few months later, they are being read their bedtime story long before the street lights flicker on outside. Explain to them that although it is still light, they have been up for many hours and need all their energy to rush around and enjoy the sunshine tomorrow. Telling children why they need their sleep will give them extra motivation to journey to that wonderful Land of Nod.

3. Adjust their sleeping hours

There is no real harm in letting children stay up half-an-hour later when the days get longer. You will have to reduce their sleeping hours at some stage so why not make the start of British Summer Time the time to do it?

4. Make sure they are not too hot

Are your children too hot in their bedroom now that the weather is getting warmer? One way of finding out is pretty obvious – just ask them! Lighter pyjamas, lighter bedding, open windows and fans can all help reduce the temperature. Black-out blinds can block out the morning sun and help them get a vital extra few hours’ shut-eye.

5. Food and drink

If children are struggling to get to sleep during a hot summer’s night it might be because they are hungry or thirsty. All that running around in the sun means that they might have a larger appetite than is the case during lazy winter months. Letting them eat a small bowl of cereal with milk just after they change into their pyjamas might settle a rumbling stomach – and settle their sleep patterns.

6. Wind-down time

The NHS website advises that parents whose children have sleep problems should introduce a 20-minute ‘wind-down bedtime routine’ to get kids ready for the idea of going to sleep. This wind-down period should be a time when kids stop running around or engaging in any activities which make them over-stimulated and unable to sleep.

It could also include a time when you read them a relaxing story – the NHS website advises that you should set a limit on how much time you spend with them before they go to sleep, so try to limit it to one story.

Perhaps a tale about Sleeping Beauty will get them in the mood for a night of sweet sleep!

This is a sponsored post written by James Christie who writes for Yellow Moon. Check out Yellow Moon’s range of craft supplies for kids.

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