How to create a sleep routine for children
Making sure your little ones go to bed on time and get enough rest is all about consistency, says sleep expert Fiona O'Farrell
What is a Sleep Routine?
A sleep routine is all about consistency. It is about developing routines and sticking to them - like going to school in the morning. It is important for there to be routines and consistency around wind-down time for bed in the evening and a consistent time for bed each night.
How to create a Sleep Routine for your child
• Children up to the age of five benefit from a day-time nap/rest. This is to prevent the brain becoming over tired.
• Create a quiet space in your home to facilitate some day-time rest after school. Ensure the rest time does not happen after three o'clock as this may interfere with your child's night time sleep.
• Ensure your child gets outdoor physical activity. Children are not meant to sit all day. Outdoor activity will help burn off excess energy and tire little muscles in preparation for night time sleep.
• A sleep routine takes approximately two weeks to establish so don't expect instant miracles.
• During wind-down, the environment should be calm, ie television blaring in the background can be very alerting for your child, making it difficult to wind down.
• Involve your child in their sleep routine and stick to it each night, eg. brush teeth, go to the loo, read story book and into bed. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it is consistent and it works for you both.
• Whatever routine works for both you and your child stick with it so it becomes your child's bedtime routine and he knows it means bed time
• Be aware of the need to set limits, eg. as to how may books you will read or you might be faced with the task of being asked to read another book and another book and so on!
• Finally, make sleep a family priority both for your child and you and all your family will reap the benefits both now and into the future.
Fiona O'Farrell BSc OT AOTI is a Consultant Paediatric Occupational Therapist specialising in Children's Sleep difficulties and Development, and has worked for 20 years in HSE and NHS
• Helps ensure your child gets the sleep he needs on a regular basis
• Sleep is vital for growth and development. Research indicates those with a good sleep routine and who get enough sleep have:
- Better potential for learning new information
- Retain information learnt at school
- Memorise information
- Increased energy and concentration levels
- Decrease in negative behaviours
- Decreases incidence of nightmares and night terrors. Over-tiredness contributes to both of these
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