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Sweet Dreams & Bedtime Blues
Baby talk Baby talk
Sweet Dreams & Bedtime Blues
July 5, 2018
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Baby talk Baby talk
Sweet Dreams & Bedtime Blues
July 5, 2018
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There is little that impacts upon family life more than lack of sleep. As parents, the less we have, the harder we find it to regulate our emotions, and the same happens in children. They can become withdrawn, find it hard to be soothed or soothe themselves or become more anxious.

We asked three very different sleep experts – Dr. Katharina Lederle, sleep specialist and co-founder of Somnia sleep solutions Somnia.org.uk, independent sleep adviser Jessica Cooke, founder of Better Little Sleepers in Surrey www.betterlittlesleepers.com and Annie Ridout, founder of The Early Hour blog – for their advice on how the whole family can enjoy a proper night’s sleep.

Dr Katharina Lederle’s tips:

BE CONSISTENT
The more you follow a bedtime routine the better (yet at the same time don’t pressure your child into sleep as this can create problems, your child feels they have to perform and might get more anxious). A regular light/dark pattern and doing the same things at about the same time each day helps our body clock to stay on a 24-hour rhythm, and it becomes easier to know when to initiate sleep and when to wake.

“The more you follow a bedtime routine the better”

ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
Give the child the opportunity to get the sleep that is age appropriate – for toddlers, that is 11 to 14 hours. Include regular sleep and wake times, regular meal times and don’t give them their last meal right before bedtime, allow the body time to digest and then rest. Follow a soothing bedtime ritual that consists of set activities: put on pyjamas, brush teeth, read a story or sing a lullaby in bed, cuddle, and then turn of the light at the set time. Let the child fall asleep on their own. Check on them periodically and respond in a calm manner if they are restless.

AND READ…
Instead of apps to help children sleep, spend time reading a story. The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin is excellent.

Jessica Cooke’s tips:

GET YOUR MELATONIN
Sleeping in darkness helps produce the naturally occurring hormone, melatonin, a powerful antioxidant. Even a small amount of light on the skin can interrupt its production. Your bedroom should be so dark that you cannot see your hand. Invest in blackout blinds, avoid exposure to electronic items which emit a blue light including night-lights and Gro-clocks for children. And for adults, keep the lights off when using the bathroom – instead have a flashlight or night-light available.

“Avoid exposure to electronic items which emit a blue light.”

CREATE A HAVEN OF CALM
A child’s bedroom should solely be associated with sleep, not filled with toys. You should also avoid sending your child to their bedroom as a punishment so they don’t view it as something negative. And for adults, a bedroom should be clutter-free and a haven of calm.

DON’T FORGET NUTRITION
Babies and toddlers can wake in the night due to nutritional factors. Vitamin or iron deficiencies can affect their sleep as can artificial colourings and flavourings in their diet. Conversely, foods containing the amino acid, Tryptophan, promote sleep as it is an important component in the manufacture of melatonin. Chicken, salmon, spinach, eggs, bananas and almonds are all good sources.

Annie Ridout’s tips:

SOOTHE THEM
If my children wake in the night I go to them and soothe them. For a child who is talking, that means making up positive stories (so that they’re not thinking about wolves/monsters/rats under the bed etc). So with my daughter (who is three) we talk about fairies and unicorns, as she loves them. I tell her they’re looking after her while she sleeps. And with my son, (six months) shushing and a nice bottle of milk usually does the trick.

“The Clementine app is amazing for helping you to unwind at the end of the day.”

REMOVE ANY SCREENS
I don’t have any screens in the bedroom. I’ll have already had a bath with my kids at 6pm and taken my make-up off so when I go up to bed at around 8.30/9pm, I just get under the covers, lamp on, and read my novel until I’m sleepy. It’s such a nice end to the day.

DOWNLOAD AN APP
The Clementine app is amazing for helping you to unwind at the end of the day. When your mind’s racing, the ‘deep sleep’ hypnotherapy recording instantly calms and if I use it before bed, it makes my whole night so restful.

Claire Brayford
@clairebrayford
Lifestyle journalist/copywriter. Former Vogue Australia Harper's BAZAAR Australia contributor
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