Sleep Strategies

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Sleep Strategies

Strategies for promoting a healthy sleep routine

Average Sleep Needs Chart

There is a lot we can do to improve sleep by developing effective routines, avoiding unnecessary stress and creating optimum conditions:

Keep to a strict time to go to bed each night. Staying to the same bedtime every night including weekends and holidays helps the body maintain a healthy natural 24 hour sleep cycle.
Reduce light levels at least an hour before sleep time. Use table lamps rather than room lights. Minimise time in kitchens and bathrooms with strong lights. Dimming lights and using 'warm' bulbs can significantly improve conditions for the onset of sleep.
Keep the temperature of the room to no more than 22 degrees Celsius with 16 - 18 degrees being ideal.
Ensure good ventilation to prevent the bedroom getting to stuffy but avoid draughts particularly in cold weather.
Have a bedtime routine e.g. shower/bath followed by reading in bed. Parents should continue reading to their child at bedtime as older children and adolescents enjoy an age appropriate story as much as younger children.
Avoid children watching TV or playing computer games in the hour before going to bed. Always build in time for bedtime routine.
Avoid your child watching films and TV or playing computer games containing distressing, frightening or violent themes. This includes the news.
Where possible, keep bedrooms free of computers, TV and mobile phones as these impact on the quality of sleep. If this is not possible, ensure that there is a 'screen' curfew and that this should be at least an hour before sleep. Check phones to check social media message sent after the curfew.
Many phones, tablets and computers now have a dusk to dawn setting that alters the colour range of the display to reduce blue light. This leaves a warmer light which does not interfere (as much) with the onset of sleep.
Use of black out curtains and/or blinds can be very beneficial particularly in summer months when it is still light outside. Also useful for blocking out street and security lighting etc. Older children and teenagers may be able and willing to wear eye blinds to help them sleep when there is unavoidable light. This could be a solution for siblings where there is disagreement over night lights, door open etc.
Physical exercise during the day can be useful for tiring your child out but avoid it in the hour or so before bedtime.
Drawing, colouring in or doodling whilst listening to a story are excellent ways of promoting pre-sleep relaxation. Massage, breathing exercises and listening to music are also useful ways to get the body and mind calm and ready for sleep.
Some foods naturally contain melatonin, the important chemical in the body for sleep. In addition many foods that we eat contain tryptophan which is used to make melatonin.
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Resources

Average Sleep Needs Chart

Child Sleep Timetable

A useful visual aid to show the different number of sleeping hours required throughout childhood.

Child Sleep Timetable

Child Sleep Timetable

A useful table for working out the correct bedtime for children 3-17.

Five Minute Guide to Sleep

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An introduction to the functions of sleep and the importance of a good sleep routine for learning and well-being.

Getting Enough Sleep

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The recommended hours from birth to adult and strategies for promoting healthy sleep.

Sleep Strategies

Sleep Strategies

A presentation of strategies and advice to support parents in managing their children's healthy bedtime routines.

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You may also be interested in the following pages:

Bedtime Resources

Five Minute Guide to Sleep

Sleep Problems

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