For busy Mums and Dads with stressful work schedules, it can be difficult to get the kids off to sleep. Establishing a regular bedtime routine can be tricky, but a successful night's sleep is often all about the preparation. Depending on their age, a child will need between 8.5 and 12 hours of sleep every night (and that's not including naps!), so it's important that you find a routine that works and stick to it.
At least an hour before bed, it's time to wind-down. This means turning off the TV and computer, as these machines stimulate the brain and can make it difficult to fall asleep. Some great things to do before bed include: a warm bath (not hot), relaxation exercises (such as yoga), gentle music, and reading a book. Everyone is different, so find out what suits you best.
The bedroom is for sleeping in; it's not an extension of your lounge. Never put a TV in your room, as you start to lose the association between the bedroom and sleep. If your bedroom isn't designed optimally for sleep, then make a few changes. It could be that your mattress is too old or uncomfortable, so take a trip to Archers sleep centre and get yourself some new bed material – this is especially important for people who have sleeping issues.
Similarly, you should block out any distractions like noise or light. Your bedroom should be tidy, smell pleasant, and be between 18-24C in temperature. You may need to invest in thicker curtains or better windows, but it will be worth it in extra snoozing hours.
If there are any sleep issues, your medical advisor will ask you to keep a sleep diary. For your child, this could be crucial for diagnosis. You should explain what the sleeping routine is, and if you don't always stick to it. Take note of how long it takes them to sleep and if they wake up in the middle of the night, how many times they do that. Roughly work out how much they slept in total.
Once you've taken note of these factors, it's time to record more personal information. Emotional upset or difficult circumstances at home or school can make sleeping almost impossible. Be sympathetic if this is the case, and try to ease their anxiousness with a chat.
Although exercising before bed is counter-productive, leading a very active lifestyle is a sure-fire way to sleep better. Children have a lot of energy and will need to get at least an hour of aerobic exercise a day. You can help by asking them what kinds of activities they'd like to do and joining them up to a sports club.
Letting them loose to play games with other children is also another way to make sure they conk out at bedtime. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to jump on board and get just as active as your kids! From cycling to swimming, there are many activities you can do together as a family.