A child whisperer claims she can get any young kid to sleep with a life-changing three-step bedtime routine.
The expert has unveiled the three-pronged sleep hack just in time as Junior Infants to Second Class and Leaving Cert students return to their classrooms this week.
The extended break may have had an impact on their sleep routine – but Bróna Connolly, a child sleep consultant, has the all important answer to get your child snoozing quickly.
Her company, Calm Nights, assesses children’s routines and can help develop a ‘child-specific’ sleep plan tailored to their needs.
Bróna believes that parents have been under so much pressure during the pandemic as many have been working from home with their children in the house full time.
She told Dublin Live exclusively: “Parents have been under so much strain, and a lot of them are working from home or they’re frontline workers. They’re all doing their best, routine is gone which is fair enough because they’re just trying to keep afloat.
“I find a lot of parents feel guilty, thinking they’ve done something wrong if their kid isn’t sleeping, and it’s not, at the minute everyone is doing their best.”
If your child’s sleep routine has been all over the place for the past couple of months, Bróna, who is a paediatric nurse, has some advice.
She said: “When children are going back to school, bring their bedtime back 10 minutes every night, bit by bit.
“If they’re going to bed at 9pm and then it’s suddenly 8pm, there’s going to be bedtime battles because they might not be that tired.
“There’s three components to good sleep hygiene – your day time activity, your bedtime routine and your bedtime environment.
“The whole thing for your day time activity is to get your child outside, get them active and get them moving because when we go outside we’re exposed to sunlight.
“It produces the hormone serotonin which helps with calmness and alertness and it also helps with the production of melatonin which helps them sleeps at night.
“Darkness helps melatonin, so try and have a dark room or else a small night light. Try to keep their bedroom nice and calm, avoid vibrant colours, try and not have too many toys.
“We want children to think that their bedroom is a place to relax – and that it’s calm, safe and warm.
“Try to avoid their bedroom as a place of punishment, and not to have it as a time out place. Only have it as their place of sleep because it could make them see the bedroom as a negative space.”
When having a bedtime routine, Bróna also recommends that there should be no screen time before going to sleep and parents should try to spend time bonding with their child instead.
She explained: “In normal times we would try and say no screens before bedtime an hour before bed.
“This includes TVs, iPads, Laptops, and any phones because there’s a blue-light that suppresses your melatonin and that’s your sleepy hormone.”
Meanwhile, she believes that having a routine and spending time with your child is a good way to get your child to relax before bed.
She said: “A bedtime routine would really come into play when children are going back to school. It’s so good for the family, and the child.
“When a child has a bedtime routine, they recognise it’s time to go to bed and time to go to sleep. Children love spending one to one time with their parents, it’s a special time to talk about their day, sing their lullabies or read their stories, it’s really positive.
“The bedtime routine should be consistent, go at the same time every night and make sure the routine is no more than 30 minutes – any longer and you could find a bedtime battle.”
The child sleep consultant highlighted that there are many negatives to children not getting their recommended hours of sleep.
Bróna said: “Lack of sleep can interfere with growth and development. They need sleep for their physical skills, emotional skills, language skills and communication skills.
“A lot of parents might notice if their child had a poor night’s sleep, the next day might be quite difficult for them.
“Their child might be quite irritable, reduce tension span, they could be quite hyper – which can be caused by overtiredness.
“It’s important for children to get their sleep because we want them to be able to go back into the classroom and follow their teachers instructions.
“If they’ve lack of sleep and a reduced attention span, it’s going to be really difficult for them because you need sleep to focus in school.”
Bróna’s Instagram account is loaded with tips and tricks about getting your little ones to sleep. You can find it here.
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Source: Dublin News