Why is a bedtime routine important?

December 4, 2014

We all know that good quality sleep is one of the most important things for our health and wellbeing. For children, it is essential for their growth and keeping healthy, and just the same as us, a poor night’s sleep will leave your little one irritable and in a bad mood all day. 

Missing sleep regularly can also cause problems with memory, concentration and learning. However, it is normal to have some difficulties with your child’s sleep and it is important not to worry.

The best thing you can do to help your family is establishing a good bedtime routine. This is a win-win as not only does it encourage vital rest for them, it gives you much needed time off in the process.

 

So, how best to establish a good bedtime routine?

Firstly, take some time and make a list of what will work for your family. A typical bedtime routine could be as follows:

  • Bath and pyjamas on
  • Drink of milk
  • Teeth brushed
  • Storytime and cuddle
  • Tuck into bed and lights off

What is important to consider?

Letting off steam – It’s worth making sure that your child has burned off some of their energy before their bath, as this is the signal into calm, relaxing time.

Winding down – TV and/or tablets should also be avoided for an hour before bedtime (and this is true for everyone) as the blue light can increase alertness and delay the release of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Reading a book together instead is great, or playing with some more relaxing toys that do not involve too much noise or excitement, as overstimulation can also prevent tiredness.

Be consistent – Starting the routine at the same time each night is a good idea, as it gets your child used to the process and their room should be dark, quiet and not too hot or cold (a dimmed room with a night light also works well if needed. After choosing an appropriate bedtime for your child, do not stray from this as it creates a solid foundation for the rest of the routine. Similar to the same time, you should keep the routine in the same order as much as possible.

Giving them notice – It is a good idea to give your child some notice before the bedtime routine begins, as this will firstly help to instil the routine in both of your minds and secondly, lets them know you haven’t forgotten bedtime is looming!

Goodnight words – Coming up with a goodnight word or sentence such as “love you, goodnight” and making sure this is the last thing you say as you tuck them in each night will help them to get to sleep, as it will become a trigger and their body will come to expect it. If they have a favourite toy to cuddle when they sleep, making sure this toy is tucked in ready will work in the same way.

 

Summary

Sleep is an important part of our children’s healthy development. While having some challenges getting our children to sleep well is normal, establishing a bedtime routine can be really helpful because it provides structure to your evenings and can also help to improve your bond.  Making winding down and pre-sleep behaviours a habit will help to ensure your child falls asleep and wakes up refreshed.

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This post was written by Dr Amanda Gummer

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