Dave Gibson


General sleep tips

3 golden rules to help you children sleep better

Each week there seems to be more and more news about the state of the nation’s sleep and in particular the problems of sleep and the younger generation. If you are thinking that it is time to get your child’s sleep back on track there are essentially three main areas to focus on. These are putting healthy boundaries around their use of technology, avoiding sugary drinks, and setting a regular bedtime.

Top 3 tips

Here my top tips to get your children to sleep more easily.

1) Have a smart phone ban at least one hour before bed

JAMA Paediatrics’ latest research found that an “increase in the odds of inadequate sleep quality, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness” was associated with bedtime technology device use.

Dr Ben Carter and Dr Lauren Hale, warn that using devices before bed can prevent good sleep in three ways. It can delay or interrupt sleep, stimulate your brain, and affect your circadian timing with blue light.

This report focused on children, as they need more sleep for physical and psychological development, and poor sleeping behaviour can lead to bad diets, mental health issues, stunted growth, and reduced immunity against diseases.

A further study of US adults from the journal PLOS ONE showed over two-thirds of adults sleep with their phones by their bed. Whilst younger users were on the devices for longer and reported having a more disturbed night’s sleep.

2) Avoid sugary drinks

A new study from the University of California, published in the Journal of Sleep Health, has shown that if you slept five or fewer hours, you are more likely to drink significantly more caffeinated sugary drinks, such as energy drinks and soda.

The researchers say it is not yet clear whether sugary drinks cause people to sleep less, or whether sleep deprivation makes people seek out more sugar and caffeine to stay awake. Though previous research suggests both could be true.

Aric Prather, the lead author of the study, stated “There may be a positive feedback loop where sugary drinks and sleep loss reinforce one another, making it harder for people to eliminate their unhealthy sugar habit”. He added, “This data suggests that improving people’s sleep could potentially help them break out of the cycle and cut down on their sugar intake, which we know to be linked to metabolic disease”.

3) Fix their bedtimes.

A recent study from UCL, led by Professor Yvonne Kelly, shows disrupted routines, such as irregular sleeping patterns and skipping breakfast, could influence weight gain through increased appetite and the consumption of energy-dense foods.

Professor Kelly added: “When we do not have enough sleep or regular sleep patterns, studies show that impacts on different hormones that influence appetite.” Children whose parents do not enforce a regular bedtime are 50% more likely to be overweight or obese, scientists claim.

Also research from the University of Houston earlier this year which found children aged seven to 11 deprived of sleep were more likely to suffer depression and anxiety when they were older.