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Mental Health Matters: How to Establish A Good Sleeping Routine with your Child

Have you ever woken up from a broken nights sleep feeling grumpy, unsettled and not quite yourself? If your answer is a resounding “yes,” grabbing your first coffee in the day is a high priority.

Sleeping Tips

Now put yourself in your child’s shoes.

Not only are they grappling with intense brain development, your little one is trying to figure out their place in the world. When your child doesn’t get enough sleep, you can pretty much guarantee an explosion of emotion, increased fretfulness and added clinginess to boot.

Good mental health is intrinsically linked to quality sleep. So let’s take a look at how to establish a good sleeping routine with your child:

“Bed o’clock”

Sticking to a bedtime window is massively helpful when trying to establish a routine. Once your little one gets used to a set time, their body will naturally become more tired, and sleep will come more easily.

It all comes down to your body’s circadian rhythm. We each have several of them working behind the scenes to keep our bodies and minds functioning correctly. One of the most essential circadian rhythm’s is the sleep-wake cycle. In short, it’s how our body maximises consistent and restorative sleep. When we have prolonged broken sleep or insomnia, our physical and mental health can deteriorate.

As you can imagine, getting your child in sync with their natural circadian rhythm is wholly important for their mental wellbeing and development.

Calming bath Time

Research has shown that having a relaxing bath before bedtime can aid sleep. It goes hand in hand with a natural phenomenon that our body’s temperature drops to initiate good sleep.

Bathing your little one an hour before bedtime will actively encourage their body’s natural flow into sleep by lowering body temperature. The warm bath water increases blood flow to your child’s palms and soles of their feet to help heat dissipate from their body. When your child gets out of the bath and is all wrapped up in their pyjamas, the cooling down process continues.

Be careful not to bath too close to bedtime! It may interfere with your babe’s ability to fall and stay asleep.

Take time to talk

Communication is so important. It’s how our children learn about their world, build relationships and figure out who they are. From mastering their emotions to discovering how to play and respond to others, talking starts at home.

Setting aside a time of day to simply have an honest conversation with your child – however old they are – is good for both of you. Let them talk about their day, what they enjoyed, what they found hard and what they learned. Let them share with you moments from their day that meant something.

Healthy relationships are all born out of good communication skills. So whether you have a toddler that has spent their day at pre-school or a teenager who has sat an exam, let them hash it out with you. These could just well be the most critical moments that you share together.

When we go to sleep burdened by our day, and anxious thoughts start to sink in, we all know what to expect. Helping your child to let go of the things that are bothering them may just be the key to a good night’s sleep!

Winding down

Having a block of time in the day where the screen isn’t your child’s primary focus is essential. Bright, flashing images cause overstimulation to a developing mind. Going from high adrenaline to bed never bodes well.

So secure a “happy” hour before bed. Turn all the screens off, and have some background music playing. Make it relaxed with some family colouring, or share a story together.

You could even have a box where your children write down their worries from their day. Before they put it in, you can talk about it together, or they can put it in the box. Once in the box it can never come out.

Some other ideas to think about:

Have a family mood board: get a pile of magazines that you don’t mind being cut up, and let your children put their ideas on the board. This could include: holidays, meals, activities or days out

How do you feel?: Again, like the mood board, you can let your child put down all their feelings to paper. Sometimes words are harder to come by after all

Board games: perfect for family bonding!

Make a story: get a piece of paper and write the opening line to a story, fold it down and let the next person write their sentence, fold down and pass it along. Once your paper is full, read the whole story!

Their bedroom = their space

Your child is a unique individual and their bedroom should reflect their personality. The safer they feel in their own space, the more likely they are to want to sleep in it. So from gentle fairy lights and soft fluffy toys to band posters on the walls, their room needs to be comfortable.

When you’re battling with a tantruming toddler, soothing, low-key colours can help to keep everyone calm. Fast forward to your ten year old’s imagination running wild, having a bedside lamp can instantly soothe their nightmarish thoughts.

Sometimes sleep evades us all. From feeling unsettled to needing reassurance, your child may struggle with bedtime. Let’s face it, how many of us really sleep alone as adults. It’s in our makeup to want to have comfort.

Coined as feeling like a “warm hug,” children weighted blankets have rapidly grown in popularity over the years. For decades health professionals have been recommending them for sensory sleep disorders, ADHD, anxiety and autism.

Now, weighted blankets have become a sought out item for better sleep. Using “deep pressure simulation,” your child can feel safe, secure and comforted as they sleep. What’s more, they are more likely to have a better quality of sleep as a result.

Goodbye, testy tween. Hello, happy home!

Keeping your children’s mental health in check all starts at home. By simply adjusting your routine, your child can have a restless night’s sleep in no time!

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