Bedtime doesn’t have to be a nightmare

According to the Advertiser last month (T.A. 15/10/13 page 9) children who do not have a regular bedtime are more likely to suffer behavioural problems.  Quoting from a University College London study on more than 10,000 children the paper notes that erratic bedtimes can cause a similar effect to jet lag and the longer youngsters go without regular bedtimes the greater the impact on their behaviour.

So how can we maintain consistent bedtimes?  Here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Has your child’s sleep needs changed?  Perhaps cutting out a day time nap will ensure they will be ready to sleep at night.
  • Develop a sleep routine. Some families read a story, put teddy to bed, shut the curtains, turn on the night light, and sing a special song.  Once familiar with the routine let the child be the leader.
  • Ensure pre bedtime activities are peaceful and rest promoting.  Offering books or quiet toys to play with are probably more sleep conducive than jumping on the bed or riding daddy around the family room.
  • Make sure bed time is realistic.  If you can’t artificially darken the room when day light saving kicks in perhaps adjusting a slightly later bedtime might be effective
  • Let your child know it’s OK if they don’t want to go to sleep but they still have to go to bed.
  • Make bedtime a positive ritual.  Tell your child “I really like putting you to bed”.

Of course in any family there will be times when bed time has to be varied.  Accept occasional variations as normal and try to get back to a consistent routine as soon as practical.  I will post next week with information and strategies for parents with older children.

One Response to Bedtime doesn’t have to be a nightmare

  • Great article! In my old age (!!) I’m beginning to think that more sleep and less sugar would minimise so many ‘behavioural’ problems in young children! Is that too simplistic? Love to hear what others think.

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