If you’ve been watching Channel 4’s Bedtime Live programme, you’ll understand what it’s like for parents with children who don’t sleep. We all know that sleep is important. It’s vital for our physical, mental and emotional well-being. When our children have sleep issues it can be exhausting, affecting the whole family, It was found that sleep deprivation in children can affect parents’ and carers’ relationships, emotional well-being and contribute to feelings of depression.*
How lack of sleep impacts on children
Of course, sleep deprivation for children can be quite significant, too. When children don’t get enough sleep their behaviour and mood can be affected. They may become hyperactive at night leading to drowsiness during the day. Lack of sleep also impacts on children’s ability to learn and function, leaving them unable to reach their full potential. It could also affect their growth.
Why is sleep important for children?
During sleep growth hormones are released and the immune system strengthens, helping your child’s body to fight off illness. It also helps us make sense of the day’s events helping our memory and concentration functions to increase. Ultimately, sleep helps our bodies rest and restores our emotional wellbeing. So how much sleep do children need? The table below provides a guide to how much sleep a child needs at different ages. Please note, times are given as averages as there are no two children with identical sleep habits.
Practical tips to help your child with sleep
- Keep a sleep diary to help assess your child’s sleep patterns.
- Try and understand why your child is not sleeping. If they’re old enough, talk with them about their sleep.
- Are there medical reasons why your child may not be able to sleep?
- Check what your children are eating and drinking during the day as this can affect how well they sleep at night e.g. sugary snacks can increase energy levels.
- Is your child getting enough exercise during the day?
- Establish a bedtime routine and be consistent. If you don’t stick to the same routine each night it will not work.
- Create a restful environment for your child. Ask yourself: Is your child too hot or too cold? If your child is too cold, you could consider using a double duvet tucked under the mattress of a single bed. Consider too, noise levels, light and whether your child is overstimulated by toys/computers or electrical devices in their bedroom.
- Comfort. Is your child’s bed giving them the proper support? Is it worn or soiled? Is it comfortable to sleep in? Try the Bed MOT to see if your child’s bed would pass.
- Finally, aim to wake your child up at the same time each morning to reinforce their night-time and morning routine.
Remember, night-time should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for everyone!
What to do next
If you are worried about your child’s sleep it may be helpful to talk to your Health Visitor or GP regarding your concerns. At Dalzell’s of Markethill our expert staff are on-hand to advise on any sleep needs you or your family have. As a Sleep Council retailer, we take your concerns seriously and will provide you with the best advice on beds, mattresses and bedding to suit your particular circumstances. Visit us in-store, call 028 3755 1260, email or go online where you’ll find lots of information on getting a good night’s sleep, best buys and choosing the right bed for you. A short drive from Lisburn and located conveniently between Armagh and Newry, we’re perfectly placed to accommodate your new bed purchase. What’s more, we provide a Free Collection and Recycling of Your Old Bed service and Free Delivery of your New Bed throughout our Free Delivery Zone, which extends across Northern Ireland, and Counties Louth, Monaghan and Dublin, in the rest of Ireland.
* Information about sleep, Early Support for Children, Young People and Adults