In a small effort to be more organised I have started getting up half an hour earlier each day, and what a difference it makes! I can get most of my chores done before taking the children to school and therefore have much more time during the day for uninterrupted concentration on work.
I know that I cannot function without enough sleep so I try to make sure that I compensate for the earlier mornings by going to bed half an hour earlier. This strategy works for me as I am an ‘early-bird’: thriving on early mornings and early nights. ‘Night-owls’ might find that going to bed a little later and getting up a bit later enables them to get more done – we’re all different.
It becomes very obvious when you have children how much tiredness impacts on behaviour. When our children were toddlers we quickly discovered the strange conundrum that the longer they slept during the day, the better they slept at night! Just last week my 7 year old son had a couple of days of unexplained whingeyness. Unexplained until I happened to notice his bedroom light on at 4.37am and went in to find him happily ensconced in his DS! Confiscation of said DS resulted in immediate disappearance of whingeyness!!
How much sleep does your child need? Every child is different but on average the NHS recommends that a typical four year old will need 11.5 hours sleep, then with every year of age after that they need approx. 15mins less sleep – right up to a sixteen year old who needs 8.5 hours sleep.
Enough sleep is important not only for behaviour, but also for improving concentration, boosting immunity, enhancing memory, aiding growth and increasing general happiness. I’m sure we’d all like our kids to sleep more but it’s all too easy with the endless after-school activities and homework for bedtime to get pushed back and mornings to start earlier. Sometimes bedtime can also become a bit of a battleground – at the end of a long day I find that the kid’s bedtime is the time of day when my patience is at a minimum and mixed with fractious children it is all too easy for things to go wrong and the ‘calming’ bedtime routine to go out of the window!
So how can we get our children to sleep more and perhaps improve the quality of that sleep?
- Make their bedroom a haven: could make them more likely to go to bed when you ask? It doesn’t need to be an expensive facelift – maybe just investing in new bed linen or perhaps a new bed?
- A decent mattress: no purchase has changed my life more than a new mattress for our bed. But what about the children? Investing in a quality childrens mattress could vastly improve the quality of your child’s sleep. You don’t need to buy a whole new bed – it is even possible to buy a bunk bed mattress, or a cot bed mattress, and most other non-regular sized mattresses, without the need for replacing the bed.
- Ban the telly: as mentioned above, TVs/handheld consoles/Xboxes etc. do not promote quality sleep! Ideally switch off the TV or computer half an hour before bedtime as part of the winding down routine – and don’t allow them in children’s bedrooms!
- Have a bedtime routine that you stick to religiously: whether it’s a bath, a story, or warm milk – if you do the same every night then it will reduce arguments and hopefully calm everyone down before bed and sleep comes easily.
We all need quality sleep – and it is especially vital for children. We all try to cram as much as we can into our days, especially if we’re working from home. But it is easy to neglect how important enough sleep is on the quality of our work and concentration span!