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Tips For Families In Need of a Good Night’s Sleep

By Kristen Thompson. Oct. 10, 2017

This is a sponsored post, published on behalf of The Sleep Advisor. All opinions are mine

If you’re a parent, you’ve likely been given plenty of advice – unsolicited or otherwise. And chances are, a good amount of that advice has had to do with sleep.

Sneaky, elusive sleep. It’s a hot topic during the early years with kids. Have a newborn? You’re probably brain dead from sleep deprivation. Have a toddler? Does he sleep through the night? What’s to be done about the 12 month sleep regression? Sleep walking? Sleep waking? Sleep-related meltdowns? How do we make sure we and our kids get enough?

We reached out to an expert on this topic: Sarah Cummings, an L.A.-based entrepreneur, and one of the three founders of The Sleep Advisor, a website devoted to all things sleep: Mattresses, bedtime routines, meditation, nutrition – if it affects sleep, The Sleep Advisor has got it covered.

Sarah was kind enough to share some of her insights into the world of bedtime bliss with young kids, in the hopes of helping you and your little ones get a more restful sleep:

What are some of the most common sleep-related myths when it comes to parents?

Well, there are lots of sleep-related myths in general that can be applied to anyone – parents or otherwise.

One is that you stop needing as much sleep as you get older. This is just not true. Adults are recommended to get 7–9 hours of sleep per night. This never changes. However, as we get older, we may have more difficulty in sleeping this long. We’ve more aches and pains for one, unfortunately! And we probably need to go to the bathroom once or twice a night, too. So we might get an interrupted sleep but that doesn’t mean we need any less … especially as new parents, we need all the sleep we can get!

When it comes to myths regarding our children’s sleep, there’s plenty more.

Never wake a sleeping baby is a big one. A lot of parents who abide by this ‘rule’ don’t take into account the time the nap started, and as a result, can leave their baby to sleep for much longer than is necessary.

A newborn should sleep 20 hours within a 24-hour period, at most. By 6 months, this is down to 13 hours and by 12 months, it’s down again to 12.5 hours. What’s important here is routine and sleep training. So if that midday nap is going on far too long, don’t be afraid to wake your child – otherwise they won’t go down at night and their whole sleep pattern will be thrown off.

Most kids don’t sleep through the night, which means lots of wake-ups for parents. Despite that, are there things we can do to get a better sleep regardless of our kids’ night-time habits?

Alternating duties between parents is really important. There’s no point in both of you being awake throughout the night! If only one of you works during the week, maybe the other parent could do weekday duties and the other the weekend. Or you could simply alternate by night. For the person ‘off’ that night, I recommend earplugs and a sleep mask to ensure you can still sleep while your partner attends to the baby. Sometimes a spare room can come in handy, too!

Another tip is to try and get into an early bedtime routine. Even though you know that feed will be at 12 a.m., don’t wait up to catch it – try and get even an hour’s kip first. Trust me, it all helps!

And of course do whatever you need to do in terms of home comforts to ensure you get a better sleep. We recommend some great pillows on our site so you can start small and still make a big difference!

What importance does a consistent bedtime routine play in helping kids (and maybe even grownups) get a good night’s sleep?

An early bedtime routine is key. For your kids, give them a bath and get them into their pajamas once you’ve eaten dinner, so they know that settling down time is coming soon.

Once you bring them to their room, read them a bedtime story, make up one of your own – whatever it takes to stop them becoming overly hyperactive! Once they become familiar with this routine – bath, pajamas, hot milk, story time – going to bed at the same hour will feel more natural.

The same goes for you. Switch off the TV and your phone at least half an hour before bedtime as the blue light they emit causes alertness and anxiety rather than sleepiness and calm. Have your own bath (if you’re lucky enough to have time!) and read some of your favourite book before settling down. Avoid caffeine after 4pm if you can and stick to herbal teas instead. Once your body is relaxed, your mind will become too – and you’ll find yourself slipping off into slumberland much more easily.

Let’s take kids and parenthood out of the equation, and talk in a more general sense of about sleep. What are some things that all of us (as adults) can do to get a better night’s sleep?

Get a good evening routine going, get to bed earlier (around 10 p.m. if you can) and rise earlier, too. Get some fresh air and exercise in during the daytime when you can. Switch off your devices before bedtime and read instead. Don’t eat heavy meals too late as these can keep you awake – have a light snack if you need to but remember, nothing with caffeine or sugar!

A gentle yin yoga class or 10 minutes of meditation can work wonders for settling your mind and body down at night, too.

All of these factors will lead to a great night’s sleep, and a healthier you as well! Wishing you all sweet dreams!

Other tips to getting your kids to bed without a fuss – and keeping them there!

  • Avoid stimulating activities after dinner. That includes anything that might get them worked up (like playing chase), as well as using iPads, video games and watching TV. A study published in Pediatrics in 2007 showed that kids who played one hour of video games an hour before bedtime showed significant sleep disruption. 
  • Try to avoid large meals before bedtime, and don’t offer beverages with caffeine or sugar within three hours of bedtime. Light and healthy snacks, or warm milk, are great alternatives before bed.
  • Make sure it’s clear that it’s almost bedtime. That may be giving five- or 10-minute warnings, as well as using predictable and cozy routines, like bath, stories, lavender-scented body lotions, etc.
  • Try to establish a bedtime routine that lasts 20 to 30 minutes before bedtime, and ends in the child’s bedroom.
  • Create an ideal sleep environment. That means rooms kept to an optimal temperature, and ones that are as dark as possible. For kids who are afraid of the dark, offer to keep their door open a crack with the hall light left on, or use a night light on a timer.

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