children's sleep

Holiday Sleep Tips

If you are going away this summer, here are some tips that may your child sleep better in a holiday environment. 

Routine Yes, 'try' and keep on track with nap's and bedtimes, but don't become obsessed, after all this is your holiday too, so be realistic.

Aim to ensure your child is getting enough sleep in total. Trust your instincts. If your child is sleep deprived and becoming grouchy - it probably won't be much fun for them or you! You may need to be creative and flexible to provide sleep opportunities for them.

Late Nights -  If you know for a fact older children will be staying up later -  think about introducing an afternoon nap to 'top them up' They may resist you at first, but hide it under the guise of "staying out of the sun"  Switch of all screens, and the TV, and instead do some some colouring. Play some white noise and relax. If this is a no-go, perhaps plan your nights with the one night out, one night in approach .This will allow an early or regular bedtime, so your child can catch up. A wee afternoon cruise around in hire car can also "facilitate" a little nap.

Hotel Room - Contact your holiday company, and ask if the property has shutter's or blackout blinds for the windows. Some tourist areas even have  hire companies that can provide what you need (this is where google is a godsend!) Sunlight is  a big trigger for early waking, and knowing that the pool/beach is just minutes away, can sometimes be an irresistible wake-up call for young (and not so young!) children. If you are unable to loan/hire blackouts, it may be worth sacrificing a few pairs of shoes of suitcase weight allowance in exchange for travel style blackout blind (but do check the weight, as you don't want to be over the limit)

Noise - Download a white noise app onto your phone or Ipod, you can spend a few nights gently introducing it at home, so you (and your little one) are used to it. This may help if accommodation noise is proving distracting. If you are all in one room/environment pick something you will all like :-) If you choose your phone, remember this may mean that you cannot access your phone post-bedtime/nap, and pack your charger as it may mean a battery drain.

Buggy Naps/sleeps. Specifically designed shades for your buggy (such as a Snoozeshade) can be a a good idea. Not only are they breathable, but they often provide sun protection. They also give your child a chance to 'switch off' and prevent well meaning people from peering in to say 'hello' just as your child is dropping off! Please please never use a cloth draped over the buggy -  it may inhibit airflow at and may 'hold' heat in. Please purchase  a correct buggy shade system.

When You Get Home - If thing's do go a little haywire on holiday- don't worry. When you arrive home, go immediately back to your usual nap/bedtime routine. Aim to have your child having bedtimes/naps at home in their own bed and stick to your routine like glue, After 3-7 days things should be back to normal, or you can contact us for one to one support. 

Next week - How to overcome jet lag and time differences when traveling. Subscribe below to receive it direct by email.

Foods that promote sleep

FOOD CAN PLAY A HUGE PART IN ASSISTING AND PROMOTING SLEEP, OR NEGATIVELY AFFECTING IT

  Sleepy foods are the ones that contain Tryptophan. This is an amino acid that is only found in our diet. It is required by our body as part of the eventual production of melatonin - the hormone that produces our sleep/wake cycles.

  • Our body uses the  Tryptophan to produce serotonin.

  • Serotonin is used to make melatonin  

Foods to avoid are the ones that may wake us up by providing a "boost" of energy at exactly the wrong time!

Below is a quick overview  of "sleepy foods"  that contain our good friend Tryptophan, as well as a list of some "foods to avoid"

 Good Sleepy Foods

Lets start with teatime - opt for brown rice, barley, grains (such as Spelt), and sweet potatoes. These are all better options than their white refined cousins.

Chicken, turkey, cod, tuna, mackerel, and salmon are all sleepy foods, and contrary to popular belief - cheese is also on our list. Go for cheddar, processed cheese, cottage cheese and even tofu.

When picking the vegetables for tea, you could include spinach, asparagus, green peas, broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers and potatoes and know that they will all be excellent "sleepy food" choices. Other teatime options are mung bean, soybeans, kidney beans, lima beans, and chickpeas – so humous is good.

Bedtime cereals should be sugar free and "plain". Choose  Weetabix, shredded wheat or porridge. You could even try sprinkling a little ground flax seed on (if you can get away with it!) Or if your child prefers a slice of toast for supper, then aim for whole wheat bread.

In the dairy corner, warm full fat milk, yogurt and soya milk can be via a drink or accompanied with cereal, and in the fruit bowl - apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries,  peaches, and cherries are good - in fact, cherries actually contain melatonin, so they are pretty high on the list!

Nuts are an option for children who are old enough (and allergy free) and who perhaps do not feel like a "proper" supper - unsalted walnuts, peanuts, cashews, pistachios, chestnuts and almonds are good choices, and sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds offer other nightime snack choices.

Foods to Avoid

Foods containing caffeine and high levels of sugar should be avoided for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. This includes all kinds of chocolate, tea, coffee and cola drinks. 

Biscuits, sugary sweets and high sugar yogurts are all better eaten earlier in the day, as they could actually give a boost of energy! Fizzy drinks  may contain chemicals , as well as  sugar, so these are best avoided - if not altogether, then definitely from lunchtime.