Supernanny, Jo Frost is launching a new campaign to help the nation get their sleep. This means starting with the kiddie winkles which will, in turn, lead to adults being able to get to bed at a decent hour. We all know that most parents have sleepless nights and most of us (me definitely!) are not getting as much shut-eye as we need. My son is now 2 and when he was newborn the sleepless nights didn’t seem to affect me all too much, but then I had a purpose, I was feeding on demand throughout the day and night and it was almost as though my body took over and it did what it needed to do! As the years have passed and the naps have now completely vanished I have begun to turn into a grouchy, tired, irritable woman all because I know I am not getting the rest or sleep I need. I am on the go from the moment Jake wakes. He is demanding, extremely active and always needs activities to keep him occupied. He just wants to eat and eat and eat which means lots of trips to the kitchen to prepare meals and snacks, on top of trying to do the normal household chores. Gone are the days when these were done whilst he napped, so I have become a master at juggling jobs, dashing here and there, fitting in shopping, meet-ups, classes and seeing family. Once he does go to bed I get to enjoy my evening and what do I do? I stay up far too late trying to make the most of ‘me’ time. BUT then he may wake in the night because he is ill, cold, hot or a noise woke him and then I shout at myself in my head that I didn’t get into bed that hour earlier like I really should have done. I then have broken sleep, yet I still get the 5 or 6 am wake up call and so I begin the day already tired.
I have looked at Jo’s guidance for the amount of sleep we should be getting and this is what she states:
- 7-8 hours a night is key
- Newborns typically sleep no less than 18 hours sleep per day. With irregular periods of time spent awake.
- Babies for the first year need at least 12 hours sleep. Including 2 main naps a day and 1 catnap which is normally around 30 minutes
- Toddlers need roughly 12 to 14 hours sleep per day. Their sleep decreases to one lengthy sleep per day.
- Age 5 sleeps anywhere around 11-12 hours each night. But without an afternoon nap. This should start from the age roughly around 3. However on a fun packed weekend, don’t be surprised to find a little catnap thrown in to rejuvenate energy.
- 10 hours of sleep per day
- 8-10 hours of sleep per day, though during times of growth spurts, this might increase
*information correct and obtained from Jo Frost’s website on 17/05/2016
Sleep is vital for all of us to repair our body and mind, reducing stress, improving focus and concentration. For children, this is so much more important as they are constantly growing and learning. Children’s minds are like sponges and they learn, play, do activities and take so much in each day that they need the sleep to help their little bodies to cope.
If we all start a good sleep routine early in our children’s lives we will be benefiting them for their futures. Now, I have heard many stories about parents with babies who cry, won’t go down, toddlers who scream and children who refuse to go to bed BUT who is in charge here? Yes, that’s right, it is you! The key to good sleep is a consistent routine every single night and sticking to it. Children love routine and that is a fact. Nursery’s, pre-schools and schools all abide by routine. The have the same classes, meal times, play times, activity times each week, so why is this often not seen at home?
Jo’s advice is very basic: bath, book and bed. Each night you calm your child down and give them a warm soothing bath. Massage could then be incorporated if you have done this with your baby. Books will also relax a child but her other motive is to get them loving reading too. We have become a nation obsessed with technology and even my 2-year-old can work the tablet better than me!! These gadgets are over stimulating all of our brains – it is recommended that none of us check our phones just before bed as the white light ‘wakes’ our brains up. So sitting in a quiet room, after a lovely bath, having cuddles with a parent and listening to a nice story is the best way to not only wind down for bed but to also help with the family bond. Bedtime should then be at the same time every night. This way the routine becomes embedded in the child’s brain and their bodies should adjust to wanting bed time.
Whilst reading about this on different posts I was shocked to come across comments from parents who said they don’t do routine and never have done. They simply let their children just continue to play and do what they want until they are ready to just go straight to bed to pass out (this was the term used). My worry there – and yes I know I am not an expert, just my opinion from a logical point of view – is that they have gone beyond tiredness, got their second wind, continued to play and over exhausted themselves to the point that they fall into bed and fall asleep immediately with no rest time for their brains or chill out time for their bodies. This will also mean that they will not be getting the recommended amount of sleep for their age. Will this eventually affect their performance at school? Their concentration? Their memory? And their attitudes and behaviour?
It makes me wonder why a parent wouldn’t want their children in bed? I long for my evenings to finally watch MY programmes and not CBeebies, to have a nice glass of wine and chat with my hubby and enjoy some wind-down time for myself.
I’m not judging other parents I am simply hoping that Jo’s new campaign will get them thinking about what is best for the whole family. Believe me, my son has been a poor sleeper most of his life so I can appreciate how tough it can be to get a full nights sleep. That being said his bedtime is 7 pm. We do dinner, bath (every other day), downstairs for chill out with CBeebies or Peppa then up to bed where I sing a song – he isn’t quite at the book stage just yet, but loves a lullaby each night. He is then placed into bed, the room is nice and dark, plus there is little noise. He knows this is how it works in our house and he rarely fights it – don’t worry we aren’t perfect so of course there are sometimes he wants to spend more time with Daddy or wants more Peppa or simply isn’t quite tired enough if we haven’t done much in the day. If this is the case he will come back down, but there is no playing or stimulation. We don’t put his TV shows back on and he usually realises that it’s not much fun and that bed is where he needs to be!
At the other end of the spectrum, if you have a wee baby please don’t panic and try and get a routine from say 4 weeks old, they are so little and need you and need to feed often. I just went with the flow when he was so tiny. Jake didn’t get into a routine until he was 5/6 months old and when food helped him to sleep much better at night.
I agree with Jo so much on this and I hope her message can get out there to parents and open their eyes to a more calm, enjoyable and manageable bedtime with well-rested family members all around.