If you are looking for a few quick wins on the way to better sleep for your family, a review of everyone’s sleep hygiene could help you on your way.
The concept of sleep hygiene refers to the practices and routines that can be used to promote good quality, restful and restorative sleep. Here are some sleep hygiene tips for the whole family.
Sleep hygiene tips for babies and children
- Keep it consistent: do you follow a bedtime routine with your children? Many families don’t, but the value of a consistent bedtime routine can’t be overstated. A good routine will consist of the same elements, in the same order, at more or less the same time every day. The predictability of the routine will help your child know what to expect and understand when it is time to sleep. Consistent timing will help regulate your child’s body clock so that they are primed for sleep at the right time.
- Allow for winding down time (and avoid screens!): give your child an opportunity to calm down before the bedtime routine starts. If they go straight from energetic play into a quiet bedtime routine, they may well not be ready for bed at the time you want them to be. Good quality wind down time will involve no screens or blue light, quieter play and reduced stimulation.
- Don’t forget daytime naps: well timed daytime naps will help prevent overtiredness by bedtime. This will not only make the process of going to bed easier, but will also help your child achieve good quality, more consolidated overnight sleep.
- Consider diet, exercise and fresh air: diet, exercise and fresh air all have an important part to play in the quality of sleep. Evening meals should consist of complex carbohydrates, protein, fruit and vegetables. Sugar and caffeine should be avoided. This might seem like stating the obvious, but caffeine can sometimes be hidden (e.g. in chocolate). Fresh air and broad spectrum daylight help regulate the body clock, reinforcing the difference between day and night. Finally, exercise helps burn excess energy, meaning that sleep pressure builds and children are ready for bed at bed/nap times.
And not forgetting the grown ups…
Have you ever responded to your little one overnight, only for them to drift happily back off to sleep while you toss and turn? You may think of a bedtime routine and the other tips above as being for children, but in reality the same principles can be equally helpful for adults in search of a better night’s sleep.
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