13 Apr Our Guide to Healthy Sleep
Why is sleep so important?
At Daisy Chain, we aim to work with parents to ensure that children have healthy sleep routines. Sleep is crucial to proper brain and body development, but not all children get the good quality sleep they need. Here are some helpful tips on how to introduce good sleep routines, leading to a happy, healthy life for your child.
Keeping to a regular bedtime can help to improve the quality of your child’s sleep and ensures the right amount of around 11 hours at night. Once you have established a bedtime routine that works for you and your child, stick to it, as this programmes your child’s brain and internal body clock to get used to a set routine.
Relaxation techniques to aid sleep
Winding down is a critical stage in preparing your child for bed. There are many ways to help them relax:
Your child’s bedroom
Create a relaxing environment in your child’s bedroom that encourages sleep. The bedroom should just be for sleeping and kept clean, dark, quiet, tidy and at an optimum temperature of 18-24C.
It’s good to keep your child’s bedroom a screen-free zone. Bedrooms are strongly associated with sleep, but certain things weaken this association, such as tablet computers, TVs and other electronic gadgets. The blue light emitted from screens can also affect how easily children get to sleep.
Your child’s diet
Consider your child’s diet, as this can affect their sleeping patterns and their health. Sugary foods and carbohydrates promote energy and are best eaten early in the day. Choose foods and snacks that have a slow release of carbohydrates, such oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or fruits such as apples, cherries, plums or pears. For dinner opt for foods with tryptophan, which is an amino acid that helps the production of niacin, serotonin and melatonin, all of which help promote sleep. Food products that contain tryptophan are chicken, turkey, tuna and soybeans.
It’s a good idea to check labels before serving chocolate, as chocolate syrup and other chocolate products contain caffeine and sugar and having these in your child’s diet may adversely affect sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation states that individuals who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to have bigger appetites due to levels of leptin (a hormone that regulates appetite), which explains the theory that sleep and obesity are linked.
Getting help with sleep problems
If you have tried these tips but the problems continue, you can receive support from your Health Visitor or GP. They may refer you to a child psychologist or another expert who may ask you to keep a sleep diary.
Keeping a sleep diary
A sleep diary may help to diagnose sleep problems or reveal some underlying conditions that explain them, such as stress or medication. Sometimes, sleep problems can be a sign of a mental health problem.
The diary may also bring to light lifestyle habits or experiences in your child’s day-to-day activities that contribute to sleep problems.
The diary could include answers to the following questions:
Need more guidance?
A good night’s sleep is essential. The tips above should help your child to get the rest they need and wake up refreshed, but if you require additional advice, please speak to a member of the team for more information.