Exhausted Parents & Restless Children Can Say Goodbye to Bedtime Battles
As every parent knows, getting a sound night’s sleep for the whole family often feels like a distant dream, but rest assured if your baby, toddler or teen is having trouble sleeping, expert help is at hand! From child sleep consultants and coaches, to psychologists and even an app to help little ones drift into the land of nod, SOMNEX | The Sleep Show offers parents the chance to explore ways to improve their child’s sleep and realise that sleepless nights don’t have to be a part of parenthood!
Ahead of SOMNEX, which takes place from the 12th – 14th October 2018 at The Old Truman Brewery in London, four child sleep professionals reveal their tips and tricks and give an insight on the impact and importance of sleep for children…
The Children’s Sleep Researcher
Many six to 11-year-olds are getting as little as seven hours a night despite the NHS recommendation of ten hours, according to worrying research conducted by Dr Anna Weighall from the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with UK bed manufacturer Silentnight UK and academics from the University of Leeds.
Dr Weighall’s research suggests that technology contributes to poor sleep in both children and adults, with the use of smartphones and tablets at bedtime associated with children losing as much as an hour of sleep a night compared to families that kept bedrooms a tech-free zone.
“This sleep loss applied even to children who kept devices in their room but had them switched off and the trend increased as they got older, with 11-year-olds losing the most sleep because of tech,” she said.
Dr Weighall said the findings are particularly concerning given that good quality sleep is crucial for physical development, mental & emotional wellbeing and cognitive performance and is strongly related to academic performance.
The Children’s Sleep Charity
Vicki Dawson set up The Children’s Sleep Charity in 2012 after realising there was a huge lack of support for parents of children with sleep issues. The charity says 40% of children across England and Wales are affected by sleep issues and when parents and families are also taken into consideration the total reaches 11 million. Exam periods are particularly busy times for the charity as stress is a major cause of poor sleep along with the rise of screen activity.
Dawson explains that the impact of poor sleep on children should not be overlooked as it has far-reaching effects linked to obesity, mental health, anxiety, hyperactivity, lowered immune systems, concentration, memory problems and growth issues. The charity works with families to identify causes and suggest strategies to help improve children’s sleep. One-on-one clinics are offered and the charity also trains professionals to work in the community and campaigns to have sleep recognised as a vital component of mental health.
“It’s very much about what families want and empowering them to make changes. What might work for one child won’t work for another. It’s complicated to unpick,” says CEO Dawson.
The Children’s Sleep App
Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories uses soothing narratives and calming music to help children drift off into a sound sleep to make bedtime a dream for kids and parents alike. The audio app, designed alongside sleep experts by the creators of global phenomenon Moshi Monsters, has received rave reviews from families. With 4.5 out of 5-star ratings on Apple and Google app stores, creators of the chart topping-app found that 73% of parents using the app reported that children fell asleep 20 minutes quicker compared to their usual bedtime routine.
Ian Chambers, CEO of Mind Candy, the creators of Moshi Twilight, said the app does not look to replace the traditional bedtime story but to help parents after a book has been read, the lights are out and children are left alone to fall asleep. “Moshi Twilight Sleep Stories is made for kids but loved by parents. A smooth and early bedtime for children gifts their parents more time in their evening to enjoy the things that improve their own wellbeing and made them happier and healthier,” Chambers said.
The Children’s Sleep Consultant
Kate Cohen founded Sleep Time Baby two and half years ago after employing the help of a sleep consultant for her second child. She trained and qualified under the Sleep Sense programme and now is a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants and helps babies and children aged 4 months to 7 years of age.
Cohen creates bespoke plans, which she helps parents implement, including recommendations on appropriate settling strategies for bedtime and night time plus looking at the bigger picture and considering factors such as room environment, day time napping and awake times as well as advice on tricky times such as teething or when illness strikes. She says families tend to see sleep improvements in just two to three weeks and advises people to respect and value sleep, not to simply accept that not sleeping is part of parenthood!
Here, Cohen shares five top tips:
- Encourage your child to self-settle– on their own and independently of any sleep props such as rocking/feeding/use of a dummy or needing reassurance.
- Respect the daytime routine & avoid over tiredness -this can cause major issues when it comes to sleep as is often the number one problem to solve.
- Create a consistent and predictable bedtime routine so that they will start to learn about what’s coming next and enjoy their journey to sleep.
- Listen to your child, but not too much (ie have boundaries!) – so observe and respect their needs but make sure you prioritise sleep when it’s needed.
- Value your child’s sleep as it’s vital to their development and your sanity!
SOMNEX tickets are £20 per person. For more information and to book visit www.somnexshow.com