There’s no doubt about it, our little ones need plenty of rest to help their growing bodies thrive — here’s how to make it happen.
The research says that primary school-aged kids need between nine and 11 hours of uninterrupted sleep, while kids aged 14 to 17 years need eight to 10 hours. But with so many distractions, that can be hard to achieve.
“Your child’s bedroom and the way it is set up for sleep can have a huge impact on the amount — and quality — of sleep they get,” says Steph Gouin, a qualified sleep expert and registered nurse.
Here are a few tips for setting up your child’s room to promote healthy sleeping habits, making sure they (and you!) get quality shut-eye.
Kids’ rooms are messy places — clothes everywhere, pictures on the walls, toys and knick-knacks covering every surface.
This disorganisation can be a barrier to good sleep, says Gouin.
“Excessive amounts of toys, bright colours, patterns on the walls and hanging mobiles can be very distracting and overstimulating,” Gouin explains.
Gouin suggests kids do a little clean up before going to bed. You can help make it easier for them by having drawers, baskets or cupboards.
To get a good night’s sleep, feeling comfortable, warm and relaxed is essential — and that’s how we want our kids to feel when they crawl into bed.
Choosing cosy and comfortable bedding goes a long way to making sure your kid gets a good night’s sleep. Think warm blankets (appropriate for the season so they’re not too hot or cold), a comfortable pillow and some nice sheets.
“It’s important you choose a pillow that has a firm core to correctly support their head and neck without propping them up too high,” Gouin says.
“And choose a pillow made of good quality, breathable materials.”
A common misconception is that kids can fall asleep on anything — but that couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Gouin.
“Kids need a quality mattress to support their growing body and a comfortable one so they enjoy sleeping,” Gouin says.
“Think longevity when investing in your child’s bed and mattress. For our own kids, we put them straight into a king-single bed instead of a smaller toddler bed. This gave them plenty of space as they grew bigger and taller.”
A mattress protector can add extra comfort, while also making cleaning up easy if there are any night-time accidents.
Go to your local snooze store where you can lie down and try a kids mattress, ensuring you buy what suits you and your child’s needs. You can also chat with specially trained staff to help find the perfect mattress and check out their extensive range of kids’ bed frames.
It’s a controversial topic — and many parents won’t like it — but the nightlight has got to go.
Gouin says it’s essential to understand that “nightlights make sleep worse”. Artificial light can suppress melatonin levels — sometimes referred to as the ‘sleep hormone’.
Try not to introduce a light at all when kids are young. If you have kids who are already sleeping with a nightlight, try to wean them off as soon as possible.
Gouin says she has no hard and fast rules on what colours to use in bedroom stylings, but the trick is to keep it calm.
“Keeping colours fresh, clean, simple and not too overwhelming and chaotic is always a good way to go,” she says.
Soft colours that aren’t too overwhelming create a more tranquil atmosphere for sleep.
It’s generally believed that soft, warm blues and greys are the most beneficial. But it’s your child’s space — they may want a colour that better reflects their personality.
There are millions of products promising a better night’s sleep — special blankets, sound machines, crystals, scented candles, the list goes on.
“Using unnatural and unnecessary ‘magical’ sleep products in the bedroom doesn’t work and can actually make sleep worse,” Gouin says.
Instead, opt for some premium linen sheets and comfy pyjamas.