Bedtime for parents can often feel like a battleground. The anticipation of reading stories, tucking in their little ones, and watching them drift into serene slumber can quickly give way to stress and exhaustion.
James Higgins, a father of one, a sleep specialist, and the CEO of Ethical Bedding, the UK’s first BCorp – accredited sustainable bedding company, understands this predicament all too well.
To help parents navigate disrupted nights, James has shared some top tips that have helped him as a father.
- Set realistic expectations. Understand that not every bedtime will be picture-perfect. Children, like adults, have their moods and preferences. Accepting that occasional resistance is normal can alleviate some of the stress.
- Combat exhaustion. Parents need their rest too. Prioritise self-care and ensure you have some downtime before bedtime to recharge. It can be helpful instead to practise meditation. Not only does this help to increase melatonin and serotonin (the hormone that controls your mood – often considered the happy hormone), but it’s also an effective way to control your breathing – which can lead to significant reductions in experienced nighttime anxiety.
- Keep the bedrooms dark and quiet. Use heavy curtains to block any lights from windows, or use an eye mask. If you get up and need to use the bathroom during the night, opt to use a small nightlight or a torch instead. If you live in a noisy environment, try masking ambient noise with a fan or consider wearing earplugs.
- Evaluate mattresses and beddings to ensure optimal comfort. If you or they wake up feeling achy or sore, the mattresses might not support you the way it is supposed to. Mattresses need to be changed every few years, so perhaps it might be time for a new one.
- Set a digital curfew. Avoid screens (phones, tablets, computers, TVs) at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. However, if you or your children must use screens before bed, enable night mode or use blue light filters on your devices. These reduce the amount of blue light emitted, which can help minimize its impact on your sleep.
- Address fears and anxiety. Many children go through phases of fearing the dark or experiencing separation anxiety. Be patient and provide reassurance to ease their worries. You can create a comforting bedtime environment with their favourite blankets and stuffed animals, or use reading time to craft empowering stories of brave characters who conquer their fears.
- Upgrade your sleep space. Bigger beds are great for young families who often have children sliding in during the night, the last thing you want is to endure a tight squeeze when little ones excitedly sprawl between you. Opting for a super king or emperor bed gives you up to two feet of extra wriggle room.