It's back to school week: cue the nightly arguments with the kids about going to bed. According to brand new research*, for many parents (17 per cent) the amount of sleep their kids get is a source of real dissatisfaction. And, as anyone who has kids will tell you, them not sleeping almost always mean you not sleeping.
What's to be done? Telling them to go to bed early every night sounds easy, but how can this routine can actually be achieved? The solutions may surprise you initially, but they actually make perfect sense, and are good to adopt for you as well as for your children if you want to find ways to improve your sleep.
1. Focus on wake-up times, not going to bed
While the most important part of a healthy sleep routine is going to bed at the same time every night, this may not be achievable straight away, since your kids would have been going to bed at different times during the holidays.
However, being a bit stricter with what time they get up every morning will eventually cause a shift in when they go to bed. This will be useful for you, too, if you struggle to doze off at night: if you are disciplined about when you get up, you'll be more likely to start going to bed earlier.
2. Make sure they – and you – eat breakfast every day
Skipping breakfast is bad for us – it messes with our metabolism and is a major cause of over-eating later in the day. Eating breakfast within half an hour of getting up gives you the energy you need to last you until lunchtime, but it also has the surprising effect of promoting better sleep at night.
Basically, if you aren't eating breakfast, your body goes into stress mode from hunger (even if you don't feel hungry in the mornings), and the stress hormones linger, making drifting off to sleep harder.
3. Use the 30-minute technique
Any changes to a child's sleep routine (and yours, in fact) will work better if made gradually. Rather than arguing endlessly when your child clearly doesn't feel tired, compromise: they can go to be later than you would like, but 30 minutes earlier than last week. Eventually, you should be able to bring their going to bed time to what it needs to be.
*Research conducted by Silentnight and the University of Sheffield