If you want your child to sleep, stop bath time!

5 peculiar tips to get your child to sleep that really do work.

If you are like the majority of parents, you have probably followed everything that the books suggest. You have a routine: bath time at 6, pyjamas at 6.30, story time at 7, followed by cuddles… but NO sleep! Your child has the ideal room with soundproofing, no TV, no computer games but… NO SLEEP!!! This may be the perfect time to consider some odd but effective tricks to get your child to sleep. Open your mind and brace yourself, these tips may sound bizarre, but they may just be what your family needs to get some night-time peace.

Tip One: No bath time

Let me ask you this, if you are facing a night time engagement after a long exhausting day, how do you re-energise yourself? Most people have a shower and throw on some fresh clothes! Showers are great pick-me-ups. They stimulate a release of endorphins, the body’s happy hormones, and raise the heart rate, creating a new wave of energy. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that some children emerge from their night time bath buzzing with the energy of ten Usain Bolts!

Limit showers to the mornings only and in the evening put them into their pyjamas an hour or two before bed.

Tip Two: Invest in a red lamp shade

As darkness falls and the lights around us start to dim, the brain starts to release a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin prepares our body to wind down and induces sleep. Bright lights, especially those in the white or blue spectrum, trick the brain into thinking it is still daytime and supresses the release of this hormone. So when bedtime comes around the brain isn’t even tired because it hasn’t registered that its evening and it hasn’t secreted any melatonin.

Red lights however, are not picked up by our brain as daylight. They do not interfere with melatonin production and can be kept on even after the child falls asleep. Animal studies have even shown improved mood from improved sleep in hamsters that slept under red lights compared to those exposed to white or blue lights.

Changing the lighting of the rooms where your child spends the hours leading up to bedtime may help them feel sleepy when it is time for bed.

Tip Three: Break your routine

Yes, BREAK that routine. If your child has a specific routine which involves you being with them until they finally nod off to sleep, they will not be able to soothe themselves back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night. So they scream out and you are forced to go through the dreaded routine again until they fall asleep.

To encourage your child to self soothe, leave the room before they fall asleep so that they learn to settle themselves into sleep. You might even stop the routine for a few days and take them to bed

when they are so exhausted that they just zonk out without any story, cuddles, stroking etc. Make sure to make a big deal of this achievement the next day. For example, you could say “Wow! You fell asleep last night without a story cuddle and five head strokes, aren’t you a star!” And go on and on about it until they want to prove this magical power again (it is very similar to training a man!!).

Tip Four: Interrupt their sleep

If your child tends to wake up at the same time each night, be it from night mares or just to play, the best way to break this cycle is to wake them up fifteen minutes before they enter that “zone”. Wake them up, take them for a walk to the bathroom, then allow them to go back to sleep. They will re-enter a different stage of sleep and avoid the “zone” which triggered the waking events.

These episodes can develop into a bad night time habit of waking that takes years to correct. So it is best to nip it in the bud early!

Tip Five: try some iron supplements

This is rare, but not as rare as winning the Lottery, so don’t rule it out, it could be you…. or rather, your child. Adults describe restless leg syndrome is as an uncomfortable heavy feeling in their legs, similar to pins and needles, which comes with an overwhelming urge to walk or move around until the feeling abates. Though rare in children under 12, it can happen. A young child with restless leg syndrome may wake with this unusual sensation and not be able to articulate what they are feeling. Instead they may become unsettled and cry or ask to walk around and play. Restless leg syndrome can be caused by low iron, so ask your doctor to check your child’s iron stores as something s iron supplementation may cause the symptoms to disappear, and voila, night time peace.

Todays Blog was written by Dr Tamara Bugembe, a Consultant Paediatrician at Kings College Hospital, London. If you like this article and want to hear more from Dr Tamara Bugembe , please let us know below.

Post your thoughts on this article below and share if you found it interesting.


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