Monday, 15 May 2017

Better bedtimes for you and baby!

Sleep, insomnia, bedtime routine
Don't let lack of sleep ruin your days
Pic courtesy of Sweet Dream Babies
If you watched The Truth About...Sleep last week, you'll be aware that the UK is one of the most sleep-deprived countries in the world. And this couldn't be more true than for parents of young children. In fact, a recent survey of 500 mums by Sweet Dream Babies has revealed that a lack of sleep affects 91 per cent of mums and takes its toll on three out of four relationships. Focussing on mums that have had a baby in the last five years, the research showed that of the 500 participants, 88 per cent of mums reported that their baby has had sleep difficulties in the past five years, 75 per cent said lack of sleep has affected their relationship and 27 per cent stated they don't want more children partly because of sleep difficulties.

Baby and Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Bell, has been working with parents for over 20 years. She says the findings are concerning, but not unexpected - and that lack of sleep can have a a huge impact on parental relationships and physical and mental well-being. The NHS agrees that, alongside bad moods and lack of focus, sleep deprivation can also have profound consequences on your physical health - putting you at risk of serious medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and it can shorten your life expectancy too.

So - can you fix it?

The good news is yes. According to Samantha, simple changes to a baby's sleep environment and
sleep routine can make a huge difference. Remember it's important to understand that young babies are not physically able to sleep for long, unbroken stretches and will come into many light phases of sleep throughout daytime naps and during the night. Samantha explains that the baby's 'inner sleep system' needs time to develop and mature, but it can benefit from some gentle guidance. Rather than 'muddling along', she recommends contacting a qualified sleep consultant, so that you can find a method of healthy sleep patterns that is right for your family.

Sleep, insomnia, bedtime routine
Call a consultant - and check your own habits!
Pic courtesy of Sweet Dream Babies
And if it's not (just) your offspring preventing you from getting enough sleep, there are plenty of other methods to try and improve your own bedtime routine. Recently, advice has included turning off devices such as tablets and smartphones because the blue light these devices emit can have a disruptive effect on the sleep hormone melatonin when used around bedtime. On some phones you can now use a 'night shift' feature - which allows you to schedule a change in the tints used on the screen, reducing the sleep-inhibiting blue light. Check your phone settings to see if you have this option, so those late evening checks on Facebook don't cause you a restless night later on.

Other tips include having a warm bath, a milky drink, cutting out alcohol in the evenings and sticking to a set routine for going to bed and waking up.

Sweet dreams!