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Sleep myth busters: We were quite surprised by some of these – are you? It does seem that Granny does know best at times!
Myth Number 1 – ‘to help your child to sleep better at night stop them napping during the day’.
Pre-schoolers need naps and they in fact help them to sleep better at night. Children who are sleep deprived can present as being hyperactive and therefore knocking off naps can make it even more difficult for children to settle at night time. Also naps can help with sleep routines and getting children to fall asleep independently. Naps provide time for children to become recharged and are good for us grown ups too as our body clocks naturally dip about 8 hours after we wake. Well rested children fall asleep easier at night.
Myth Number 2 – ‘wear them out before bedtime to get a good night’s sleep’.
We need a nice, calm bedtime routine in the hour leading up to bedtime. Physical exercise can actually make your child more alert if carried out too late in the evening!
Myth Number 3 – ‘cheese will give them nightmares’.
There’s no scientific proof that this is the case, in fact anything calcium based is usually helpful in promoting sleep.
Myth Number 4 – ‘night terrors are bad dreams’.
Night terrors are different from nightmares. Night terrors usually happen in the first part of the night and the child is unresponsive to adult comfort, they will not remember them the next day. Nightmares however usually happen in the second half of the night and the child will be fully awake and distressed, they will remember their bad dreams.
Myth number 5 “Watching television before bed helps my child to relax”
NO! TV is actually highly simulating not only for children but also for adults. Viewing TV before bedtime is linked to irregular sleep patterns, scientific research proves this time and time again. If your child doesn’t have sleep issues then don’t change anything but if they do, you could look at their TV viewing and see if this could be having an impact. We recommend no screen activities for at least an hour before bedtime. TVs are also a source of light, we recommend children being in a darkened environment prior to bedtime, this encourages melatonin to be produced. Melatonin makes us feel drowsy and helps us to fall asleep more easily!
For more professional advice and support please contact The Children’s Sleep Charity