Healthy sleeping for the whole family

What a dream! Michael Fassbender was just about to clip your toenails while feeding you chocolate-covered strawberries and you’re jarred awake by a toddler’s fist up your nose.

Poor Michael is gobsmacked, but for you, it’s just another night as a tired mummy. And, fighting for a good night’s sleep can be the biggest battle you face every day. To make it easier, bear in mind these tips for getting kids to stay asleep so you can get your requisite 8 hours:

  • Both kids and adults benefit from exposure to natural light during the day, particularly in the morning. The light will help you stay alert during waking hours and then feel sleepy at nighttime. However, bright lights at night have the opposite effect. Researchers discovered that melatonin production, which controls our sleep-wake cycles, is suppressed by light and therefore it’s best to reduce the amount of indoor lighting when it’s time to go to bed.
  • A kid who’s hungry or too full will sleep badly. A balanced evening meal at a decent time will be digested before nighttime, leading to more consistent sleep.
  • A bath or warm shower before settling down will relax the muscles and create a calm state of mind. Younger ones will benefit from a non-threatening story as they snuggle in and older ones may prefer a quiet chat with you about the day’s events or tomorrows schedule.
  • As children age, they need fewer and shorter naps. If your 6-year-old is still napping, keep it short to around 20 minutes and don’t let them go down beyond the afternoon.
  • Establish weekday and weekend wake and sleep times. When your kids get into the habit of sleeping and getting up within an hour or so of the same times each day it will be easier for them to conk out for the full night.
  • Ration screen time at night. Never mind the content of what they’re looking at, the light from these devices has the same effect on melatonin as a lamp does and late-night texting or playing will interrupt their sleep cycles.
  • Make sleeping in your big bed a special occurrence. Save it for weekends, holidays or nasty nightmares. Carve out some privacy and stick to your boundaries. The more sleep you get, the better the mummy you’ll be.

The best foundation for good sleep, particularly as a family, is a good, large enough mattress. Because, if it’s not the kids, it could be your partner wriggling and stretching until you’re left, dangling over the edge of the bed that disrupts your nights. Invest in a comfortable, supportive mattress and consider the memory foam vs spring debate when making your choice. A memory foam mattress can last you 20 years, if not more and, based on the new layered technology, may even pull the heat away from the body no matter how many bodies are in the bed. So, the next time Michael appears with his nail clippers, you may get the full pedicure before you have to face the day!