*contributed collaborative post
When our children are very young, sleep is one of our top concerns. Or, more specifically, a lack of it. Whatever we’re told, whatever we expect, and even if we’ve already been through it with older children, somehow the sleepless nights of those first few weeks and months always comes as a bit of a shock.
If you are lucky, however, you’ll quickly leave these sleepless nights behind. All babies start to sleep through the night in their own time, and even the term ‘through the night’ is fairly fluid. Some of us are happy with 6 hours straight, whereas others don’t consider a night slept through until there are no wake ups between bedtime and morning. But for most parents, between six and nine months they can expect to start sleeping better.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all children, and even those that were excellent sleepers as babies and toddlers can start to struggle with sleep as they get older. There’s no magic fix when it comes to sleep, but creating a sleep-friendly bedroom that’s cosy, encourages relaxation and helps them to unwind can certainly help, whether your child is 4 or 14.
Remove or Carefully Place Technology
Any article about getting a better night’s sleep will mention technology. As adults we’re encouraged to charge our phones in different rooms, leaving them out of the bedroom overnight. We’re told that we shouldn’t watch TV in bed, or work in our bedrooms. The theory is that if the bedroom is just for sleep, we’ll find it easier to sleep. As soon as we walk through the door, our mindset will change, and we’ll subconsciously start to prepare for sleep. Removing technology also removes stimulation and light.
Younger children might not have technology in their rooms anyway, but if you’ve got an older child, too much time on screens may be contributing to their sleepless, or restless, nights.
Older children and teens might be reluctant to take their devices out of their bedrooms, but you could still make some changes to help. Add a sofa, or gamer’s chair, and create a gaming station, so that they don’t sit on the bed to play. Then, try to get into a routine with TV off times and have family rules for where phones stay in the night.
Add Comfortable Seating
Comfortable seating is a great way to make sure that the bed is just for sleeping. It’s also a chance for your child to relax in the evening if they aren’t quite ready to sleep. A comfy sofa or seat also means that your child can get out of bed and stay comfortable if they can’t sleep, instead of lying in bed getting more and more frustrated. A sofa is ideal, but if they haven’t got the space a chair, or even bean bags, cushions and blankets on the floor can work well. Just aim for cosy and comfortable.
Invest in Blackout Blinds
Most of us find it harder to sleep when it’s light. Our brains associate dark with sleep and we just find it harder to switch off in the daylight. For adults that go to bed later, this isn’t always a problem, even in the summer. But, for children, you might be expecting them to go to sleep while it’s still daylight for around half of the year. Blackout blinds are usually the perfect solution. Make My Blinds specialises in blackout blinds in various colours, sizes and styles. Blinds from Make My Blinds can look great with the décor of your child’s room while helping to darken their room on those brighter evenings.
Add a Night Light
A night light might seem counterproductive if you are trying to darken a room, and you might not think your older child needs it. But a night light only offers a very small amount of light, which shouldn’t affect sleep. Night lights are useful if your child is afraid of the dark, but also if they wake during the night to use the toilet, as it means they won’t need to turn on the main light, which could wake them up completely, making it much harder for them to fall back to sleep.
Pay Attention to Sounds and Smells
Light and gadgets aren’t the only distractions that can make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. If your child’s room is next to the road, they might be awoken by loud noises. Their room might smell musty. The atmosphere might be unpleasant. White noise can be helpful for some people who find it hard to sleep in silence, or investing in better windows can help to block external sounds out. Try to open their window during the day, when possible, to improve the aroma and atmosphere, or add lavender air freshener or pillow mist to create a more relaxing scent.
Lower the Thermostat
Most of us find it easier to sleep when it’s a little cooler than we might like it in the daytime. We generally find it easier to sleep in the winter, when we’re cosy and wrapped in blankets, than we do in the summer when we can’t get cool or comfortable without the weight of a thicker blanket. Lowering the thermostat and finding other ways to cool down a hot bedroom or bed could make their room far more sleep friendly.
Shop for Soft Sheets and Upgrade the Mattress
The comfort of the bed is one of the most obvious factors affecting our sleep, but it’s often one of the last things that we consider when looking to make improvements. If your child’s mattress is old, or they have grown significantly since you bought it, it might be time for an upgrade. Soft, cooling cotton sheets and supportive pillows will also help.
Install Storage and Encourage Tidying
Have you ever heard the term, “a cluttered space leads to a cluttered mind”? this is very true in the bedroom. A messy bedroom is hard to relax in and filled with distractions and tension. Add easy to reach storage and make your child’s bedroom as easy for them to keep tidy as possible. Then, encourage a quick tidy before bed every night as part of their sleep routine, even when they start to get older.
Add a Reading Corner
A reading corner is always a bonus in any room. Books are relaxing, even when we aren’t reading them. Make sure your child has access to books, and preferably somewhere to get comfy and read that isn’t the bed, or at least extra cushions and blankets to get cosy with a good book on the bed.
Include a Separate Napping Space
Some parents find that separating nap time from bedtime helps their baby or toddler to get into a positive routine. Believe it or not, a nap space, such as a sofa bed, can even help older teens to get a good night’s sleep. Short naps help us to focus and concentrate. They also stop us from getting overtired and frustrated. Add a comfy space anywhere you can, for naps or just a little quiet time.
Sleep problems can be frustrating. But it’s important to remember that your child is probably more frustrated about it than you are, even if they aren’t communicating it. If a cosy and comforting bedroom isn’t helping, you might want to spend some more time trying to get to the root of their sleep problems or even speaking to a doctor for further support.