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Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.
– Thomas Dekker

Sleep has always been one of life’s greatest joys to me – that and food – are two of my favourite things about life. Nothing feels better than eating a good, hearty meal when you are famished or lying down in a comfortable bed at the end of a long day. Now I, like most people take my sleep very seriously because I believe that resting well at night helps you perform better during the day and I also believe that a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health! So, when it comes to sleep, I don’t mess around. When it’s time to sleep, I sleep!

Realising how important a good night’s sleep is became even more pronounced to me when my husband and I had our first child. She was the sweetest looking human with raven black-black hair, clear blue eyes and soft, pink, pouty lips. She was absolutely gorgeous and hubby and I were both instantly taken with her! The only “drawback” (and I use that term very lightly!) was that for the first four weeks of her life, we got considerably less sleep at nights with a newborn in our lives! Eight hours of sleep each night used to be an easy goal to meet but we would quickly learn that with children in the home, things change, and the task of getting a solid night of sleep can become a lot harder.

From being born until they’re pretty much teenagers, kids can create difficulty during this part of the day for years and how each child sleep varies from child to child. I told you that for the first four weeks of her life, our daughter didn’t sleep through nights because, well, she was a teeny-tiny newborn who needed to be fed regularly.

"...I believe that resting well at night helps you perform better during the day and I also believe that a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health!"

But then when she reached four weeks old, she started sleeping through the night like a champion! So, when we had our son, we were hopeful that he would follow in his sister’s footsteps, but alas, that wasn’t the case. He woke up every three hours, right on the dot in order to nurse! It was crazy navigating through his sleep patterns but eventually over time, we settled into a good rhythm with him. One of the things that this taught us is that sleep varies from child to child and solving this issue isn’t as hard as a lot of people think – so long as you are prepared to put in the effort of understanding how it is your child sleeps. There’s usually a reason for your child failing to sleep and in this post, we will be looking at some of the common areas which can keep someone (including your little one) awake, along with some of the best ways to help your little person get a good night’s sleep.

For a growing child, the right amount of sleep could be anywhere from eight to twelve hours each night. I know it sounds like a lot but the truth is that without this amount of shut eye, they could struggle to do their school work (assuming you have them in daycare), not eat properly and lack of adequate sleep can impair their proper development. This makes a good night’s sleep critical to their development, while also adding weight to their need for it. So below, I just wanted to share with you some practical tips that we use in our home in order to ensure that our little people get a good night’s sleep.

(Oh, and did I mention that your kids sleeping well pretty much guarantees you a good night’s sleep as well?!)

 

 

"From being born until they’re pretty much teenagers, kids can create difficulty during this part of the day for years and how each child sleep varies from child to child."

1. Before they go to sleep
On days when I am on the ball, supper time is at 5pm in my house and the kid’s bedtime routine starts at 7:30pm. At 7:30pm, we get the kids into their PJ’s, give them a warm cup of milk and read them a story in order to get them to start winding down for the evening.

This has been a fantastic thing to do in our home because the kids know what to expect every evening and it has helped them create a good bedtime routine which is key to having a great night’s sleep. I guess what I am trying to say that a good night’s sleep starts well before you get into bed. You have to take into consideration the time before you/your kids go to sleep and be mindful of what activities you guys are doing during that time as – in most cases – this is the time which will disturb their sleep (and yours) the most; if it isn’t handled correctly. This is basically what I am trying to say: The food people eat plays a big part in their sleep. Certain foods, like sugary and fatty examples, can make it much harder to get to sleep. But, something filled with starch could make it easier. Also, the time when you eat plays a huge role in how well a person sleeps and the quality of sleep which they experience. Eating just before going to bed is seldom a good idea because your body needs time to process and digest what you have just consumed. Lying down straight after a meal can cause things like acid reflux – especially if your dinner was high in fats or sugar – and that can severely impair how well you sleep. And this is the same case with little children. So, having an earlier supper is always best but regardless of what you eat, I’d say that it’s important to make sure that your child doesn’t eat anything within two hours of going to bed. Instead, they should have their dinner much earlier, to give them a chance to burn off their energy. In this case, it’s usually excess energy which will cause the issue as to why they aren’t sleeping well during the night. To avoid this scenario in my house, we make our kids run out their “energy beans” (that’s what we call it, lol!) but either playing music which they can dance to, play a game which requires running or just finding ways to help them get their wiggles out before they get into bed.

Another helpful thing to consider when it comes to kid’s bedtime (and even your own) is the entertainment your child consumes before they go to sleep.

" ...a good night’s sleep starts well before you get into bed."

The human body uses light as an indicator of when it should go to sleep. As it gets darker, a hormone called melatonin is released. Unfortunately, though, this hormone can be disrupted by one of the most common devices out there; the humble digital display (i.e. your phone, tablet, TV, laptop, etc). I don’t know about you but there have definitely been times when I have struggled to either fall asleep or sleep properly when I head to bed just after watching a movie or working late on my laptop or phone. Through doing some research of my own, I discovered that the blue light emitted by most devices actually makes it harder for your brain to start winding down at the end of day because your eyes are still receiving a light signal from your eyes that comes through your phone or TV or computer. So, jumping into bed just after your eyes have been consuming this blue light makes it harder to fall asleep because your brain is wired! And the same principle applies when it comes to kids and sleep.

While watching a cartoon/movie just before going to sleep may give you a bit of a break, in the long run, it may not be the best thing for them to do prior to going to bed. Just like an adult brain, their little brains will be working overtime from consuming that blue light which may result in a restless night of sleep. A way to combat this could be having them do other activities before going to bed like drinking a warm cup of milk while colouring in, reading a book (or you read them a book) or just letting them play a bit before going to bed. I am not writing this as an expert, but I am sharing with you practical tips that I think might be able to help you and your little ones sleep better at night. In having kids of my own, I have found that a big part of ensuring a good night’s sleep means controlling the entertainment my kids consume before heading to bed and having a solid night time routine. By having set times for things like TV time and bed, you will make it a lot easier to control this part of their life and to help them and you sleep well.

 

 

 

 2. While they sleep
You know that awesome feeling you experience when you get into a warm and comfortable bed at the end of day…chances are, you kids enjoy that feeling just as much as you so be sure to be extra careful when purchasing a bed for your little one/s. I think that a lot of parents end up buying cheap, flimsy beds for their kids – and, of course, this seems to makes sense – because odds are that they will break or grow out of any bed you give them before too long.
Growth spurts are real, lol!
But here’s something I think every parent/guardian should at least consider when it comes to buying a bed for their little one –  a good night’s sleep each night is more important than a little bit of money. Now, don’t hear what I am not saying! I am not saying that you need to spend a small fortune buying your precious child a bed. I personally believe that just because it may be expensive doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best and I stick by that theory pretty much all the time, even when it comes to beds. Beds and cots can be expensive – especially if you have more than one child and good beds don’t necessarily have to cost a lot. All I am saying is that a new bed can make a real difference to your child’s ability to sleep. When choosing a bed, it’s important that you use reviews to get an idea of what’s out there, look at options like bunk and cabin beds until you find the perfect choice for your children. Even the style of bed could impact your child’s chances of sleeping soundly, so it can be worth trying to see the bed in the flesh before you spend anything on one.

 

 

 

Another thing to bear in mind when it comes to sleep and your little one is to bear in mind that like some adults, some children are very light sleepers, making it hard to stay awake when even small noises and other distractions are around. Of course, after a short time of living with your child, you should have a good idea of how they sleep. With our kids, we realised that while our daughter could probably sleep through a hurricane, our son was far more sensitive to noise than she was. Sometimes, just opening the door to check on him while he napped could make him stir. I will say that while things have gotten better with our son, it took some time for us to figure this out and to better accommodate for his “light-sleeperness”. I will say that figuring out if your child is a light sleeper or not may not be a simple thing to do because in a lot of cases, the child themselves may not realise that it’s the TV you’re watching or the music that you’re listening to which keeps them up. Instead, they may simply try to sleep through it and that may not go down super well. Now, I’m not necessarily saying that you should go to bed when your kids do (although, we have sometimes done that it has been awesome to get 10 hours of sleep!) but what I am saying is that maybe you just need to be thoughtful when consuming entertainment and moving around your home while your little one is still falling asleep

 

 

 

Hopefully, this post will give you some good ideas of things you try if you’re struggling to get the little ones to sleep at night. Sleep is important to adults and kids alike but, during this time when kids are still so small, they will be relying heavily on you to help them with it as you are the voice of reason in their life. Yes, it will take time for you to get right and it finding your groove will take some figuring out, but it will be worth it once everyone in the house is getting the sleep they need. Trust me!

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