This month our guest blogger, Lisa Artis, Deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity, which the NBF supports shares her thoughts on why the school summer holidays are the perfect times to review your child’s bed requirements…
Summer holidays are a fun and exciting time for children, but they can also disrupt bedtimes. Late nights, lie-ins and special days out can play havoc with a child’s sleep, but getting kids back into a term time sleep routine doesn’t have to be a nightmare.
And while you’re thinking about a term-time sleep routine, it’s also the perfect time to check if your child’s bed is up to scratch. Children seem to have growth spurts over the summer! And a bed is something we often forget about – it’s just there at the end of the night to curl up into – but when it’s uncomfy and unwelcoming, it doesn’t help to achieve good quality sleep.
Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development. Young children need around 10-11 hours sleep a night, older children around 9. Lack of sleep can make children irritable and can lead to mood swings, behavioural problems such as hyperactivity and cognitive problems that affect their ability to learn in school. With the start of a new school year, you want your child to be getting the best sleep they can.
Therefore, it’s important to be prepared to change your child’s bed at significant growth periods in their lives. They get taller and heavier – and let’s face it no one sleeps well when their feet are sticking out of the bottom of the bed! Simple checks can be done every six months – or at periods like the summer holidays – to assess whether the bed is still fit for purpose.
If the time is right for a new bed, take your child with you to choose it, they need to like it as much as you do, as they are the ones sleeping on it. Make sure they try it out, find it comfortable and it’s practical. The wrong bed could be just as uncomfortable and unsupportive for young, growing bodies as for adults. A new bed can feel like an expensive purchase, so do visit a retailer to find one that not only suits your child’s needs but your budget too.
As the new school year looms, we would also advise you to start trying to re-establish your child’s regular sleep routine a couple of weeks before they go back – otherwise, you may find you have a battle on your hands, and some very sleep-deprived children!
Top Tips to Support Sleep
- Try to keep to a consistent bedtime/wake time. If things have drifted then start to move them slowly by about 15 minutes every few days until they are back on track.
- Be consistent, our body clocks thrive on routine. Having a set wake-up time seven days a week is important.
- Try to encourage youngsters to get outside for at least half an hour each morning. Daylight supports our body clocks, helping us to wake up and suppress the sleep hormone.
- Make the hour before bed a screen-free zone. Screens produce a blue light that tricks our bodies into thinking it is daylight and makes us feel more alert.
- Dim the lights in the hour before bed to help youngsters to produce melatonin, this is the sleep hormone that helps us to nod off more easily.
- A bath (if they enjoy one) followed by a warm milky drink and reading them a book is a simple and effective wind-down. This gets children relaxed and ready for bed.
- Try to schedule in time to talk about worries away from the bedtime routine. We want bedtime to be positive and relaxing.
For more information about sleep support visit www.thesleepcharity.org.uk and follow on social media for regular tips to help to support a better night’s sleep.