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9 Sleep Tips To Try Before Seeking Professional Help From A Sleep Consultant

Updated: May 21, 2022

1. Try introducing a more consistent wake up time & bedtime. The most important anchors of the body clock are the wake up and bed times. These need to be as consistent as possible. You may need to adjust mealtimes, nap times, and use a bit of good old trial and error to find the best bedtime for your little one.

2. Get outside as much as possible. Exposure to broad spectrum daylight as well as exercise and fresh air are all excellent aids for sleep. Try maximising your and your little one’s time spent outside or if the weather is crappy then indoor exercise will be just as beneficial. For younger little ones: rolling, sitting, crawling, standing, jumping, bouncing. Or older little ones: walking, running, climbing, indoor obstacle courses or jumping on the bed. Being physically tired can be a game-changer.

3. Dress your little one in appropriate night clothes according to the temperature of the room in 100% cotton, breathable layers. Research has shown that feet actually regulate your core body temperature and given that our core body temperature drops in the early hours of the morning, this is a common time for little ones to wake up cold. It may be subtle, but their body temperature may have dropped enough to trigger a wake up: especially if your toddler is constantly kicking their covers off in their sleep! Putting socks on could prevent this. Equally if it’s hot, less layers could mean avoiding a wake up from being too hot.

4. Optimise the environment. Is there a bit of light coming through the curtain? Black out blinds. Does the heating come on in the middle of the night and make noise? Is the street outside particularly noisy? White noise machine. Is the room a bit too dark for your toddler or older little one? Red or amber night light. Analysing their environment and eliminating light, temperature, or noise from being possible wake up causes could make all the difference.

5. Work on optimizing daytime naps both in terms of timing and length. The purpose of naps is to lower cortisol levels during the day, and prevent overtiredness from building up and your little one becoming dysregulated. The naps need to be well-spaced, and ideally placed in the middle of the ‘awake time’, so that your little one is neither overtired or not tired enough at bedtime.

6. Have a predictable & soothing bed & nap time routine where the same activities take place in the same order and in the same room (ideally the room they will sleep in). Use this routine for naps (a slightly shorter version) and bedtime and ensure that it is neither too short that it does not enable children to calm down, nor too long that it loses focus and causes overtiredness. Usually around 45 minutes is about right (shorter for very little ones).

7. Factor in plenty of quality time in the day. Sometimes children will play up at bedtime or during the night when they are missing their parents or going through a bout of separation anxiety so trying to fill their ‘love tank’ up with focused 1:1 connection time during the day can really make all the difference.

8. Address any health concerns such as eczema and other skin problems, asthma, recurrent coughs and colds, pains, allergies, or intolerances. Often, sleep problems are a symptom of a health concern rather than just a sleep issue and addressing the cause is often essential to improve sleep.

9. Try to limit exposure to screens. This is especially important in the 1-2 hours before bedtime. All screens: TV, iPads, laptops, phones, games consoles as well as some artificial lighting including most baby light projectors. These all emit ‘blue light’ which stops the body producing melatonin (our sleepy hormone).

I really hope you've found something here that has helped your sleep situation, but if not then please do get in touch - we can work together on creating your personalised sleep plan which works best for your little one and your family. Click below to get in touch...

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