Saturday 6 November 2010

Hints and tips for getting your child to sleep from The Sleep Council and Chireal Shallow

British Parents Face Sleepless Nights as Daylight Savings Ends

- Mums and dads set to gain an hour in the day but lose valuable sleep time!
- Almost 2/3rds of parents find their kids sleep patterns affected by clocks going back
- Revealed, top five tips from real parents for ultimate bedtime routine
- 81% of parents revealed that a bedtime routine is highly important

New research into children’s sleep patterns reveals that parents across Britain are in for an even tougher battle to get their kids to sleep over the next few weeks following the clocks going back (31st October).

Hallmark Cards questioned over 1,000 British mums and dads with pre-school children to gain insight into kiddies sleeping habits for the development of the new Forever Friends bedtime storybook, Night, Night Sweet Dreams.

The research revealed over two thirds of parents found a child’s bedtime and sleep routine is strongly affected when clocks go back by disturbing the all important bedtime routine, which eight out of ten parents highlight is the magic ingredient for getting children to sleep. However, the rest of the year isn’t all plain sailing into the land of nod with bedtime blues being a key issue with over half of parents struggling to get their little one to sleep on a daily basis.

Commenting on the research, renowned children’s sleep expert and Channel 4 psychologist Chireal Shallow said: “81% of parents feel that a bedtime routine is important, and as they become more aware of the benefits of sleep to our children’s health, they realise that developing a good sleep routine can have a significant effect on the quality and amount of sleep achieved.

“It is key to keep your child’s routine as regular as possible when the clocks go back as it can throw sleep routines out of kilter- stick to the same time you begin your bath, book and bed routine, and this will help you to stay on the right path to slumber.”

So what are the key ingredients for the perfect bedtime routine? Of 1,000 mums and dads with under fives surveyed throughout the UK, the following came out as the most effective ways to get their child to sleep, forming part of the ideal bedtime routine. The top five are as follows:

A bedtime story- 56%
A bath before bed- 34%
A comforter/teddy bear- 31%
Going to the toilet before bed- 28%
A dark room- 25%

Eight out of ten parents questioned believe that a regular bedtime routine is extremely important, and incorporating a bedtime book helps your child have a good night’s sleep. Yet despite such a simple method proving so popular, almost 10% of those parents questioned have never even read their child a bedtime story!

Chireal said: “A routine would not be right without a bedtime storybook as it gives many parents the chance to spend some quality time with their children and puts both you, and your child in a good mood before bed. Such simple measures can make a massive difference!”

A lack of, or change in routine is often the biggest offender in disturbing not only your child’s sleep, but also your own as a parent. Over half the parents surveyed lose sleep themselves as a direct result of getting their under fives to sleep, filling them with frustration each night – with 8% of parents actually highlighting their frustration went off the scale of 1-10!

Chireal continues: “A sleepless child has a huge effect not only on parents but on the entire household. Over a quarter of those questioned said that not only do they get frustrated with their partners, but in fact the entire household peace is disturbed.

Jessica Alexander from The Sleep Council says: “Bedtime blues, in both parents and children, can be easily avoided with such simple steps. As well as a good bedtime storybook and warm bath, parents should also ensure their child has plenty of fresh air, exercise and a healthy diet. You should also try and keep bedtime around the same time each evening- remember young children don’t know when they are tired, so will try every excuse to stop you from putting them to bed!”

The Sleep Council Hints and Tips:

· Make sure your child gets the best possible access to fresh air, exercise, a healthy diet , a bedroom conducive to sleep and quiet time before bed

· Bed time should be around the same time each evening; if a child has an established good sleep pattern it’s ok to let them stay up a little later at weekends or on special occasions

· A toddler needs about 12 hours of sleep; children aged 4-6 about 10-11 hours; aged 6-12 around 10 hours a night, and teenagers 8-9 hours.

· Establish a bedtime routine – teatime, followed by quiet play, bath, story and bed would be typical. Remember, young children don’t know when they are tired – they just get fractious!

· Don’t expect your child to go straight to sleep on lights out – adults don’t.

· Ensure a quiet environment for sleep: the room should be cool, quiet and dark – and keep all those gadgets well separated from your child’s sleeping zone from day one through to teenage years – if possible, not in the bedroom at all!

· Make sure your child has a comfortable bed and pillows – source suitable products if your child is asthmatic or has skin allergies. A child will probably need three beds: a cot up to 18months-3 years, their first beds up to early teens and an adult bed for teen years

· Stay calm, stick to your routines and seek advice if your child’s not sleeping well. Don’t forget, your anxiety could be picked up by them and make matters worse.

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