Helping you and your child sleep
Tips to help your child sleep
A child who does not sleep well can affect the whole family. Disabled children and those with certain medical conditions are more likely to experience problems with sleeping.
Below are some standard approaches that help all children, including disabled children, get a good night's rest.
- Identifying patterns to your child's sleep, a time they often wake or activities after which they sleep badly, can help you change their routine.
- Establish a bedtime routine, for example bath, pyjamas, story then bed. Try using pictures or timers to help your child understand.
- Anyone who is supporting your child (family or professionals) should be using the same approach to managing your child's sleep.
- Avoid TV and computers or hand-held devices an hour before bed time, because they stimulate the brain.
- It is important that the bedroom promotes sleep. Is there a pattern that your child can see monsters in? Is it too light, dark, hot or cold?
- If your child is going to bed hungry try to get them to eat more in the evening. Remember - some drinks or snacks may affect their sleep.
- If your child becomes distressed when you leave them, gradually get them accustomed to you not being in the room. Start by sitting and avoiding getting into bed; after a few days, increase the distance between you and your child until they no longer need you to fall asleep.
Getting help from others
- Find out about attending a parent support group to meet other families with disabled children. Have they tried something you haven't?
- If you are in a support group, they might be interested in hosting one of our information sessions helping your child sleep.
Tips to help you sleep
We know that sometimes day-to-day pressures build up and can affect your ability to sleep. Try some of our suggestions below.
- Relax before going to bed, perhaps by reading a book or taking a bath.
- Decorate your room with calm colours like beige or white; you can add colour with accessories. Put happy family pictures or calming views on the walls.
- De-clutter your bedroom. Your mind can feel much calmer when everything is put away.
- Some people find meditation or yoga helpful.
- Avoid stimulants before bedtime that will excite your brain and hinder sleep, for example alcohol, eating late and watching TV in bed.
- If you have lots of things on your mind, write them down or make a 'to-do' list for the next day so you can stop thinking about them.
- Prepare for the next day. Sometimes it helps to lay out your clothes, prepare lunches or pack bags so you feel ready and relaxed.
- Are there other family members or friends who can support your child at night so you can sleep?
- Do you need equipment to monitor your child during the night, for example if your child has epilepsy?
Who can help?
A child that does not sleep creates exhausted parents, yet solutions can sometimes be found:
- A health visitor can suggest strategies to promote a good sleep pattern and we can send you a parent guide on this topic.
- Your doctor might refer you to a paediatrician or psychiatrist who can assess your child's needs and suggest various treatments or behaviour plans to help your child's sleep.
- Parent guide: Helping your child sleep [PDF]
- Manage your child's difficult behaviour
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