How to help children sleep through the night

You’re just drifting off to sleep after a long day, when you hear a voice call out. A little one has woken up and needs your assistance. Maybe they ask for a glass of water, or say they’ve had a bad dream or just can’t sleep. Whatever the issue, it’s difficult to drag yourself out of bed when you’re already half asleep. So, how can you help your children to sleep through the night?

1. Create a routine

Children thrive on routine. Repetition and structure help them feel safe. Sticking to a consistent schedule also helps set the body’s internal clock and optimises sleep quality. Studies have found that set bedtimes also help to improve children’s behaviour.

2. Offer a light supper

A heavy meal too close to bedtime can result in indigestion but a light snack around an hour before bedtime can aid sleep. For a young child, a small banana and a glass of milk makes an ideal supper. Bananas and milk contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is thought to cause sleepiness. Other foods that contain tryptophan include yoghurt, porridge, cottage cheese and tuna.

3. Avoid screen-time before bed

Television, computers and tablets should be turned off at least an hour before bedtime, preferably two. The light from these devices has a high concentration of blue light which affects levels of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin.

4. Teach simple relaxation techniques

If a child struggles to settle down, relaxation techniques can be helpful. Methods include tensing and releasing muscles in turn, from the toes to the head; imagining a favourite place in nature; and slowly counting from a high number to a low one, each number visualised as a different coloured step on a staircase leading down to the land of dreams! If they learn to self soothe, they’ll be less likely to call on you in the middle of the night.

Here at MattressNextDay, we understand how important it is for the whole family to get a good night’s rest. One wakeful child can affect the entire household. By following these tips you should be able to help everyone get a good night’s sleep.