Helping all children become happy learners
How do you get your child to go to sleep?
Have a Routine
Try to keep bedtime the same time even at weekends and holidays. This helps maintain the child's body clock (circadian rhythm) and the time when they feel the onset of tiredness and sleep. Melatonin is a body chemical that helps us sleep. It is naturally released by the body as it gets dark to help us sleep and is regulated by our body clock. Keeping to a regular routine helps to make the most of this important sleep chemical. (Sometimes melatonin is prescribed to help sleep difficulties.)
Not too hot, Not too cold
The temperature in the bedroom should be a few degrees cooler than the main living spaces. About 18 degrees at bedtime. Try to keep bedrooms well ventilated but eliminate any cold draughts. A drop in body temperature is a natural part of the body getting ready for sleep. A room that is too hot will thus make sleeping difficult. Some mattresses can trap a lot of heat so if this is a problem consider a mattress cover that helps keep keep the sleeper cool.
Calming activities such as reading stories can help get your child ready for sleep. Audio books can be a useful alternative for reluctant readers and young children. Listening to music can also be effective for many. Avoid your child watching TV to get to sleep as this develops a poor habit that becomes very hard to break.
No Homework at bedtime
Avoid homework in the hour before bedtime as this can interfere with their sleep cycle and is not effective for learning. If, for reasons out of your control, homework is not done before the start of bedtime routine; it may be better to get up early than stay up late to do it.
Shut out sunlight
Use black out curtains or blinds to cut down light; particularly in the summer months.
If your child needs a night light try to choose one that gives out a orange or red glow.
screen Free Hour
It is important that your child does not use computers, phones or watch TV for at least one hour before sleep time. Avoid stress before bed as this releases stress hormones such as cortisol which acts to wake the body. All computer games produce stress not just the violent ones. Social Media is also a source of stress - constantly needing to check on comments and likes etc. can fuel anxieties and self-esteem issues. When the body becomes stressed it releases the body chemical cortisol. This makes your child more awake and causes the body's natural sleep chemical melatonin to reduce making sleep harder.
Dim the lights
In the evening it best to try and reduce light levels and/or use special night time lighting. These night time bulbs generate a warmer colour light that removes a lot of the blue light and help support sleep. Very bright lights such as those often found in modern bathrooms and kitchens can cause the body chemical cortisol to be released and this makes us more awake.
Drinks and Snacks
It is best to avoid drinks and snacks in the last hour before sleep time. However, a small drink and snack as part of the bedtime routine can help motivate children to get ready. Avoid sugary foods and drinks containing caffeine.
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