Sleep, rest and renewal – getting your little darlings to sleep !

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“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.”

 Sleep, rest, renewal – the dream of every parent at some time in their parenting adventure!

Here are some of the tips I pass on to the parents I coach.

  • Blackout curtains or blinds. When my kids were little I bought some black out curtains and they worked like a magic blindfold. Will and Molly slept later, longer and deeper and didn’t find the early morning sunshine came through their window to wake them up too early in the summer time.
  • Turn off the light. Some children sleep with the light on, but scientists suggest that this may disrupt your child’s natural rhythms and reduce the production of melatonin which is a powerful anti oxidant that prevents tumours. 

So if your child needs to have a light nearby make sure you use a dimmer switch, or use a red or yellow toned night light, rather than blue or green night light, as they can affect the production of their melatonin levels.

Bright lights, even on the way to the toilet will be interpreted as day by your child’s brain and affect their sleep patterns.

  • Let them sleep. Whenever you can allow your children to sleep until they wake up and then make a mental note of how long they slept. That’s their natural need for sleep. So if you notice that they have to be woken for school you can simply bring forward gradually their bedtime so that they are getting something nearer to what their optimal amount of sleep is. And watch their temper, mood and humour improve as if by magic !  
  • Keep regular bedtimes. If you have one bedtime for weekdays and school days,  and another for weekends this is the same as asking your kids to overcome jet lag every week ! Of course the odd late night is OK but otherwise try and stick to a similar pattern as the body functions better that way.
  • And before returning to school after the holidays try and even up the bedtime routines to make them less tired, grumpy and exhausted on their return to school! ( a former teacher’s advice !!)
  • Simplify bedtime. If your kids try and spin out bedtime ( as a recent client of mine told me they did regularly as she felt guilty being a working mum) with “I need a drink, I need something to eat, I need a  tissue, or teddy etc” make it clear that they need to ask for everything they want before a certain time. After that … it’s too late!
  • Don’t listen to complaints, requests or whining. They have to go to bed to rest, relax or to just lie there until they drop off.

Once your kids have got used to this rule your life will have just got easier!

Bedtimes will be less stressful and you will all be far more relaxed ready to wind down for a good night’s sleep.

  • Compensate for delays. If your bedtime routine is a protracted event, start the routine earlier to allow for the palaver so your kids still get enough sleep.
  • Listen to lovely CDs from  Relax Kids or Heather Bestel to help them drop of gently and positively.
  • Of course no Play Station , Game boy or X box or computers last thing at night as this stimulates their brains too much and they will then find it hard to wind down.
  • Hot milk, cocoa and a good story … and your done !

Let me know how you get on and see my Sleep Fairy technique here for another way to get them off to sleep easily


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About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

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Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
T: + 44 1342 833355   M: 07740 622769

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