Battles have been fought throughout human history, but none have raged as long as parent and child right before bedtime. Even the most angelic and placid child can turn into a little demon when the prospect of an early bed is raised. What our little ones don’t understand is quite how hugely important getting a good night’s sleep is for their development. Our children’s brains develop incredibly rapidly at an early age and much of this occurs while they are at rest. Study after study has shown that the children who sleep better, perform better both academically and socially.
While a good bedtime story is very important, as a parent, one of the most important things you need to realize is that the pre-bed routine begins as soon as your child opens their eyes in the morning. Everything after that contributes to how well they will sleep the following night. This includes the food your children eat, the amount of exercise they get and the amount of screen time they are allowed. It is also a lot to do with environment and it’s this we will discuss below.
Master the light
Light is one of the most powerful drivers of drowsiness. The human brain has evolved over countless generations to associate brightness with being alert and darkness with sleep. This system worked well for us until Edison came along and spoilt everything with his electric light bulb.
One of the best ways to create a sleep-inducing environment in your home is to be aware of the light outside and control your interior lights to mimic it. So, when the sunsets outside, draw the curtains and dim your internal lights. Instead of using powerful overhead lights, instead, switch and use lamps or even candles.
It may sound like quite a trivial thing but taking control over your home’s light can have a hugely soporific and calming impact on your children.
Create an oasis of calm
Children, bless them, have short attention spans. They are curious little things and that’s great. That’s how they learn and grow into engaging young adults but it this fascination with the things around them can also have a detrimental impact on how well they sleep.
If your little one sleeps in a bed surrounded by toys, posters, odds and ends, they are going to get distracted from the task at hand, sleeping.
The solution ensures their sleeping environment is an oasis of calm. Declutter, make sure any and all toys are out of sight, ideally tucked away into boxes or cupboards. Simplify the area around their bed, have nothing present that isn’t necessary.
For many more slumber-related hints and tips like these, check out the other ones over at the Sleepadvisor.org.
Blue is best
It is important to provide intellectual stimulation to our children, to feed their hungry sponge-like minds. There is, however, a time and place for this and nighttime is not it. The visual diet your child is exposed to plays a big role in their mood and ability to sleep. Having brightly colored posters, bright colors or excessive patterns on their wall may seem like a fun idea but in some cases, it can detract from their sleep.
Studies have shown that individuals who sleep in bedrooms with neutral colors sleep better than those who sleep in brighter rooms. Tranquility-inducing colors like light blues or earth tones actively promote sleep. So too do shades of light green, yellow and grey.
Might be time to paint over that Avengers mural, sorry!
Get the temperature right
One of the most important factors when it comes to a perfect sleep environment is temperature. This is true for adults and for children alike. Studies have found that the brain must drop a few degrees in order to induce sleep, so being too warm is a big no. Conversely, research has also shown that if our feet or hands are too cold that can also delay sleep. It’s a tricky balance to reach.
Some parents will get quite technical when it comes to temperature and use thermometers. But this isn’t necessary, it’s possible to use your own comfort levels as a guide. Open windows if need be, purchase a small fan, don’t be a prude and let your kids sleep in the nude if that is the most comfortable thing. Don’t stress too much but just be aware that the temperature of the room has a huge impact on the sleep environment.
Well, there you have it, four ways to create the perfect sleep environment for your little ones. All it takes is a little forethought and soon you will have the upper hand in the battle for bedtime peace and quiet.
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