After watching BBC’s Panorama on Monday night about sleep and the increasing amount of children who are not getting enough sleep each night, we wanted to highlight a number of the show’s points and emphasise the importance of a bedtime routine.
Throughout the show several important points were raised
- The number of children admitted to hospital for sleep problems has tripled in the last 10 years.
- 80%+ of children aged 12 and 90% of children aged 15 have a phone.
- Melatonin is the hormone that is released at night when the sun goes down to make your body know its nearly bedtime; however, the blue lights produced from tablets, phones and TVs reverse this hormone making you think it is daytime. Giving you the problem of not being able to sleep. So many of the children above keep their phones in their rooms and use them in bed whilst trying to sleep.
- Melatonin is normally only prescribed to adults over 55. It is becoming increasingly common to see melatonin being prescribed to children by a doctor’s own discretion. In 2015 the NHS spent over £14m on these unlisenced prescriptions. Consultants have even said that the prescriptions may not help in the long run as they often help with short term but if routine is not changed then effectiveness will wear off.
- The increase in children’s sleep problems and children’s obesity can also be linked and be involved in a vicious circle with one another. Being obese can cause sleep apnea-the pausing of breathing whilst asleep due to the extra fat around the airway.
- 1/3 teenagers are obese and sleep apnea has risen by 25% since 2012. However on the other hand, bad sleep can cause obesity. There are two hormones in your body-to tell you when you are full and when you are hungry. And imbalance of these can come from not having enough sleep and in return makes people eat more if they are tired. These people are also more likely to choose food that are sugary and startchy.
- Only 1hr less sleep a night for three nights can significantly affect a child’s brain performance.
- A charity in Doncaster called Children’s Sleep Charity provides support to parents with children who have sleep problems. They found that the most common factors for problems we having too much screen time right up until children go to bed or fall asleep and the lack of sleep awareness that parents have. They promoted sticking to a night time routine to help children have good sleeping habits.
As nannies throughout our training and professional careers we too have found that having a structured, consistant bed time routine to be the best remedy for a good nights sleep. We have seen many times in our jobs when we have supported parents instill a routine how quickly changes can be noticed when a routine is kept – in only a few nights in most cases. We have witnessed so many times how busy family evenings can be but we really think that sleep should be high up on the priority list in order to make a whole family work together easily, maintain every member’s happiness and give parents more time in the evening to either relax together of do jobs that haven’t been completed during the day without having to fight with children to sleep. We suggest to:
- Keep screen time out of bounds near bedtime. Panorama suggested for at least an hour before bed.
- Start the bedtime routine at the same time every day.
- Keep elements of the routine the same each night. This is mainly so a child knows what to expect next which we find they are able to handle much more successfully than if you change it-especially at this time!
- Have a warm bath-this calms so many children down. We have found about 30-40 mins before bed to be most effective. Add lavender oils for an added relaxing effect.
- Keep the bed time hour and wake up hour the same e.g 8pm-7am/9pm-6am. Not only your mind loves repetition but your body clock does too. This goes for you adults too!
- Read to your children! At pocketnannies we love to read, but we just find it so sad that clearly so many children are left to a electronic device to get them to sleep, when obviously it does the opposite. There’s nothing better than lying together on the bed or on the sofa with a quick book. Five minutes is better than nothing! For older children read a chapter book, this way it encourages them to look forward to the next evening when they can find out the next part of the story.
- Even if you think the routine in monotomous and boring, children thrive off of repetition. As said before they know what is coming next, they know what is expected of them and this is the best way to ensure they feel safe. By making them feel this way you can get the best out of them. You can also go to bed earlier if your children are already asleep and household jobs are done. Happy household!
If you are having troubles we wish you the best of luck – do feel free to email us with any of your sleeping queries. firstname.lastname@example.org