Welcome to our new series of guest blogs. We’ll be approaching lots of experts asking them to share their opinions and views on all topics associated with sleep.
Our first guest is Vicki Dawson, founder of award-winning The Children’s Sleep Charity – who support children and their parents with sleep issues. Vicki tells us her top tips to ensure the best present you get this Christmas is a child that sleeps!
“Christmas is looming and we know at The Children’s Sleep Charity that we simply can’t compete with Santa! We always see a dramatic rise in the number of referrals we receive in January as parents struggle to get children back into a good sleep routine.
“There are some simple tips that you can adopt in order to help you to ensure that Santa doesn’t leave you with a sleep problem this year…
• Be realistic: It’s really hard to sleep when you are excited, your child may have some disturbed sleep over the festive season. Be patient!
• Where possible continue with your usual bedtime routine. If you are staying away from home use the same sleepwear, toothbrush and storybook that you have at home. This can help your child to feel secure and get them ready to fall asleep more easily.
• Fine motor skill activities can help to promote relaxation. Makes sure you add some to their Christmas lists – jigsaws, threading activities, model making are all ideal pre-bedtime choices.
• Make the hour before bed a screen free time. This will help your child to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone that makes them feel drowsy. Use the time to let them do something more calming or spend quality time reading or talking to your child.
• What your child has to eat and drink can also influence their sleep. Avoid caffeinated drinks like cola and opt for water. Keep an eye on sugar levels at dinner time, the good news is that turkey is a great sleep inducing food!
• Spend time in natural daylight. This can help our body clocks to stay on track. Wrap up warm and head out for a walk each morning.
• Bedtime can often get later and later during the festive season. Move it backwards by 10 minutes at a time every few nights until they are falling asleep at their usual time once school starts again. This trick works really well for when the clock changes too.
“Finally I’m proud that The Children’s Sleep Charity has recently launched its ‘Manifesto for Children and Young People’s Sleep’ in the Houses of Parliament. It is calling for better understanding of sleep across the country to support the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of families. For more information please visit our website ”
Vicki Dawson set up The Children’s Sleep Charity in 2012 having once been a sleep deprived mum and finding there was very little support available. She is on the Board of The British Paediatric Sleep Association and a member of The British Sleep Society. The charity has won a number of awards and works closely with leading universities across the country to further research how to better support families of children with sleep issues. In 2017, Vicki was honoured to receive the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Duke of York Community Initiative.