Whilst routines are changing for many parents as schools close, it is important to keep days and nights as structured as possible in order to stay motivated and ensure a good night’s sleep for both parent and child. In addition to sticking to a structure, other things which can help maintain sleep quality include creating a relaxing environment, winding down before bedtime, minimising screens in the bedroom and having open and honest conversations about their concerns.

Whilst not all children will be entirely aware of what is currently happening in the news they will likely be able to sense the worry and concern in the adults and older children around them so it is important to be aware of their worries and possible anxieties. Older children and teenagers on the other hand will likely be aware of the situation and have concerns of their own. It is important that children are comforted and reassured in order to ensure their daily routine and habits remain as uninterrupted as possible.

Since schools have closed to the majority of children, their daily routines have shifted. This interruption in routine can in turn lead to altered sleeping habits and lower sleep quality. In order to minimise this disruption as much as possible, we’ve put together our top tips on ensuring your children’s sleep quality remains as high as possible.

Employ Relaxation Techniques

There is a plethora of relaxation techniques which we can use to help us feel more at ease and ready for sleep. One of the things which massively impacts our ability to sleep is being scared, worried and anxious; or, unable to switch our brains off at the end of a long day. This is no different for children; if they have things on their mind which are concerning them, they will struggle to drift off. Teaching them various relaxation methods can help them combat this. These can be a few simple tricks which you can teach them during the day that they can then use themselves when struggling to fall asleep; this may work better for older children and teens but can be done with younger children with supervision.

Try some simple techniques such as:

  • Lying still, slowly relaxing all the muscles in the body until completely relaxed. They will feel each muscle loosen and sink into the bed. Tell them to imagine a relaxing or special place where they feel happy and safe. This can help take their mind off the current situation.
  • Practicing deep breathing techniques can help relax and ease the mind. By taking deep breaths and concentrating on the breath it can help take the mind off stress, worry and anxieties.

For those who are interested in further techniques, look for meditation suitable for children and teenagers. This is great for those who take a keen interest in learning more about relaxation techniques.

Have Open and Honest Conversations

By ensuring that you delicately explain the current situation and have open, honest conversations with your children you can help put their mind at ease. Let them ask questions and provide them with comforting, yet honest, answers to help them feel less worried. A lot of fear stems from the unknown, so the more you can help your child understand the less fear they will feel. This in turn will help ease their worries and improve their sleep quality.

Stick to a Schedule

Whilst they are out of a normal school day routine, you can still adhere to a schedule as best as possible. Start by creating a schedule for your family; what time will you wake up and go to bed, eat meals, do work and exercise for example. Having a structure to the day will help ensure that when it comes to bedtime, your children are ready for bed.

Having a set bedtime, despite not being in school or being in school less, will help ensure that the sleep cycle and your child’s body clock remain on a schedule. This in turn will aid their sleep quality.

Wind Down Before Bed

Having a relaxing bed time routine is great for everyone, even adults! It helps your body and minds relax and unwind ready for bed. This can include whatever you like but for children some of the most tried and tested things include; taking a warm bath, tidying up their room, getting into pyjamas and reading a bedtime story. This can differ for individuals and depend on age however each of these steps contribute to a great night’s sleep. A warm bath helps the body to relax and can ease sore muscles; the warm water is also comforting before bed. Reading a book or having a book read is also great prior to bed time as it helps focus the mind on something other than your own thoughts and prepares you for sleep.

It is important to ensure the sleeping environment is as relaxing as possible ahead of bedtime also; dark, free of distractions and clutter free.

One thing to avoid before bed? Screens. Make sure that at least an hour before bed you put away the screens; laptops, tablets, phones and TV’s all emit blue light which disrupts the body’s production of melatonin and in turn disrupts the natural sleep cycle.

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