Get the kid’s bedtime back on track
Bedtime crept later and later due to lockdown? Don’t worry – most parents are having the same problem. Without any real structure to the week, it’s been incredibly easy for normal sleep routines to slip. And, in a recent study...
Bedtime crept later and later due to lockdown?
Don’t worry – most parents are having the same problem. Without any real structure to the week, it’s been incredibly easy for normal sleep routines to slip. And, in a recent study conducted by The Sleep Charity, it was found that sleep issues in children have escalated as a result of COVID-19.
According to the charity’s CEO, Vicki Dawson: “Children’s sleep is especially important, as it directly impacts their mental and physical development”. And, with the schools having tentatively re-opened this September, there’s never been a better time to return your child’s bedtime to normal.
What time should kids go to bed?
To establish an appropriate bedtime for kids, there are two main factors that you need to consider:
1. How much sleep your child actually needs
This will depend on their age. Generally speaking, all children need more sleep than the average adult (i.e. more than 7-8 hours) and the younger they are, the more sleep they will require.
The current NHS recommendations are as follows:
|Age||Approximate hours of sleep|
|1 week||16-17 hours|
|1-6 months||14-16 hours|
|6-12 months||13 hours|
|1-5 years||11 hours|
|6-10 years||10 hours|
|11-16 years||9 hours|
2. What time they need to get up
For example, if your child requires 11 hours of sleep and you wish for them to get up at 7am, bedtime should be at 8pm. If they need 10 hours of sleep, bedtime should be at 9pm etc.
How can I return my child’s bedtime to normal?
Unfortunately, restoring the kid’s bedtime routine won’t be easy and you’re likely to have a battle on your hands for the first couple of nights. But there are certain things you can do to help:
1. Invest in a good bed
First things first, check the quality of their bed and ensure it has enough space for them to be comfortable. A good supportive mattress is essential for children – both to facilitate sleep and support bone growth – and you’ll need to change it more regularly than you would for an adult.
2. Encourage exercise
Try to engage them in at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. Getting the heart rate up (e.g. by playing a sport or going for a walk) is not only good for their general health, it’s also good for their sleep cycle – making it much easier for them to drop off and improving the quality of their sleep.
3. Be consistent
Our body clocks thrive on routine. So, decide what time your children need to go to bed – and what time they need to get up – and stick to it! If the children’s bedtime has drifted later over the last few months, move it slowly back (by 15 minutes every day) until you reach the desired time.
4. Wind-down routine
Doing the same things, in the same order each night, can help to promote children’s sleep. Therefore, try to implement a ‘wind down’ routine one hour before the kid’s bedtime. This could involve taking a warm bath, giving them a warm milky drink or simply reading them a book.
5. Avoid screens
Tablets, smartphones, TVs and other electronic gadgets all emit a blue light, which can trick our bodies into think it’s daylight and affect how easily we get to sleep. This can be particularly true for children. So, implement a curfew and ensure the hour before bedtime is screen-free.
6. Prepare the bedroom
Ideally, the kid’s bedroom should be dark, quiet and tidy.
Blackout curtains are often a worthwhile investment and dimming the lights before bedtime can help to stimulate melatonin production (i.e. the hormone responsible for making us sleepy). You should also ensure the room is free from clutter and kept at an optimum temperature of 16-18°C.
Hopefully, the tips outlined above will help to return your children’s bedtime to a sensible hour. But if you’re still finding it difficult, remember, we’re always here to help. Our resident ‘sleep experts’ have excellent knowledge in this area. And for further tips and advice on children’s sleep – and the best bed style and size for their age-group – you’re welcome to get in touch at any time.