Sleep is very important for children, especially during term time, as it lets their body and mind rest after a busy day. Everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes, but there are things you can do to help your child if they are struggling to get a good night’s sleep regularly.
- Try to make bedtime at the same time each day. Young children of primary school age children need around 10 -12 hours’ sleep a night ideally and it’s good to get into the same bedtime routine every night, even at weekends. Ask other family members or babysitters to help you by sticking to the same routine as you.
- Think about what your child eats and drinks in the afternoons and evenings. Cola drinks have something in them to keep you awake. Milk can be a good thing to drink just before bedtime as it can help children to sleep, but remember also they should go to the toilet just before going to bed too!
- During the day, make sure your child gets some fresh air – it doesn’t have to be sport, even just going outside is good.
- Try to make sure there’s at least an hour after dinner to let your child’s food go down and it’s a good idea if they can avoid watching TV or using their phone or tablet for a while before bed too.
- Some people find that a bath or shower, followed by teeth cleaning, getting their pyjamas on, then reading a story together or having a quiet talk about the day in their child’s bedroom works well. Praise your child if they stick to the routine and get ready without fuss.
- Try not to have the bedroom too hot or cold and put a nightlight on if your child likes some light, or dark curtains if they don’t. If they have any problems during the night, try to sort them out in their room rather than letting them join in with anything you are doing. Once their light is out, the house should feel like a very boring place to them! They should know that night time is when things get quieter and we go to sleep!
- Some parents find it useful to have a phrase which they repeat to their child each night to signify that things have now changed, for example “good night, sleep tight, see you in the morning.” Repeat your bed time phrase to your child each night so that they know that this is the end of the day and the time to sleep.
A regular bedtime routine and getting plenty of sleep can give children more energy to enjoy learning and being with their friends in school.
If you have continued problems, you can get more support from the Portsmouth School Nursing Service by calling 0300 1236629