I was asked to participate in the #asoundsleep campaign by MattressNextDay.
I have suffered in the past with insomnia, but what I want to talk about in this post is the struggles I have with my 8 year old son Joshua in trying to get him to have a good night’s sleep. We have been having issues at school with him. I wrote a post about that recently, so feel free to read it. Since then, the school have been great and keeping us updated on what kind of a day he’s been having at school. I have, however, noticed a correlation between the amount of sleep he’s getting and the kind of day he’s having at school. A bad night’s sleep = potentially a bad day at school.
The strange thing is that this problem with sleep has only started recently. He slept fine as a baby and toddler, as far as I can remember, so I can only assume that this sleep problem is something that has developed as he’s got older and therefore has more on his mind to worry about.
So over the last few months I’ve been trying various different things to try to promote better sleep.
I think routine is important in all aspects of a child’s life, but equally where sleep is concerned. We have dinner at the same time, go to bed at the same time, have baths at the same time on the same nights each week.
I always read to them before bed (usually a few chapters of a book – we did Roald Dahl books and are now onto David Walliams books) and give them a warm milk drink. I’ve tried not allowing him books in bed after a certain time (he would read and read well into the night – and while it’s not a bad thing that he loves reading, it’s not good if he’s missing out on sleep because of it). I’ve tried allowing him short bursts of reading if he can’t sleep (I figure, that’s what I do if I can’t sleep – read for a bit) but make it clear that it’s only for 10 minutes and then try again.
A while ago, I started putting music on to help them sleep – I have a playlist on Spotify called Sleep to Dream which they love. Then I had to cancel my Spotify account in order to save some money and tried making a classical playlist for them but it just wasn’t the same so I’ve re-enabled my account as I missed it so much and they are happy to have that playlist back again.
When the kids are with me, they share a bedroom. They have bunk beds in a little room. When they are at Ben’s they have separate bedrooms. I don’t know if they sleep better at Ben’s house but I suspect they do. And I feel like we are seriously outgrowing my flat. The space is not the only issue though. I try to get them to share a bedroom but I find that they chat and argue and keep each other awake so I started separating them. I sent Alara to sleep in my room. But Joshua started to feel left out so now we are taking turns. She sleeps with me one night and he sleeps with me the next night. The only problem with that is Joshua is a big boy and he spreads out while he sleeps so I end up a bit squashed – more so than when she sleeps with me. But hey ho, can’t get around it. I do find though that they are a lot calmer at bedtime when they are in separate rooms.
But even with all these things, he still takes a long time to fall asleep and often comes out of his room saying that he can’t sleep. I don’t get angry or make a fuss when he does this. I have a quick chat with him, give him a cuddle and send him back to his room to try again. Mostly. I am also human. If he’s still coming out at 9.30pm I must admit I do get a bit irritated but I still try to remain calm. Getting angry for something which is, I think, not his fault, won’t help either of us.
Other things to try if you can’t sleep
I’ve been thinking about other things to try if you can’t sleep or have a child who can’t sleep. These things include ensuring that you have a comfortable bed, mattress and pillow, making sure the bedroom is dark enough (use blackout curtains) and quiet (unless you use music as a sleep aid). Exercise is also something that can help you to get a better night’s sleep.
https://www.mattressnextday.co.uk have created this great infographic with some great facts about sleep and sound: