Clare Varey, Cerebra’s Sleep Practitioner for the Yorkshire area, gives her top tips for getting your child to sleep.
“Sleep for some children is just like any other skill that has to be learnt. It can take time and patience and requires repeating many times before it becomes mastered. One aspect that can have a huge impact on sleep is having an effective bed time routine in place. This helps the child understand how to fall asleep and what is expected at bedtime. Once established the routine can help them to feel safe and reassured, reducing time taken to settle and reducing the impact of night waking/early rising.
Here are my top tips for an effective bed time routine:
- A bedtime routine should not last longer than an hour. Any longer and children won’t be able to link what they are doing with feeling tired and sleepy once they are in their bed
- Turn off TV/computers/tablets and phones. These devices all emit light into the brain which will be telling the brain it’s still daytime, making it harder for children to ‘wind down’ and feel tired
- Start with an activity downstairs that will help them to calm down. If you’re stuck for ideas, have a look on the internet
- Offer a light supper. Foods that contain Tryptophan are good as this makes Melatonin – our hormone that makes us feel sleepy
- Move to bathroom and offer a bath (only if they can relax, if you find its stimulating bath earlier in the evening) teeth and toilet
- Into the bedroom – it should be dark. Use a red based night light if children are scared of dark. This can be kept on all night as red light doesn’t stimulate the brain or affect Melatonin production
- Introduce a smell to bedroom, such as Lavender
- Put on pyjamas, offer a massage. This releases a hormone called Oxytocin which relaxes you.
- Read a short, familiar story
- Try using a low level music such as alpha/delta wave music which can be kept on all night if needed
- Say goodnight and leave /stay if needed initially
- By helping all the senses, this can provide your child’s brain with reassurance and understanding of how to fall asleep, avoiding the bedtime battles that many of us experience
I can provide parent presentations, workshops, sleep clinics, telephone support and in some cases I am able to offer home visits to discuss the sleep difficulty”.
Please visit our website for more information about Cerebra’s sleep service and how to get in touch.