Over the last few years there has been an unbelievable rise in children visiting the doctor with sleeping problems. According to a recent survey there has been a tenfold increase in the number of kids visiting the hospital or GP with sleep related issues. This rise isn’t surprising given that it marries up with the accessibility to mobile devices.
Bedtime has always been a tricky part of the day however parents are turning to mobile phones and tablets to help keep their children distracted or quiet after a long day at work. This habit of using the electronic babysitter has slowly got out of hand and now most households will have some kind of device that their children use regularly.
It isn’t just teenagers, even toddlers are getting in on the action and whilst there are some brilliant games on the market, which can help your child develop, they are better used with adult supervision and during the daylight hours, not at bedtime. Firstly, these games tend to stimulate the mind making it harder to relax and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep. The blue light emitted from tablets, smartphones, computers and LED TVs interferes with the production of melatonin, the hormone naturally released as the sun goes down that makes us feel sleepy. This results in children losing the ability to fall into a deep sleep and makes for a pretty disturbed night.
Teenagers often have mobile phones, however in a recent survey they admitted to staying up till the early hours replying to texts because they were afraid of missing messages or not being a part of the crowd. Slowly, but surely, we are turning our children into mobile addicts and daytime zombies.
So, how can you help your child get more sleep whilst enjoying the new technologies we have on offer?
Mobile phones are amazing and fun for all aged children. With one handheld device you can make films, take photographs, edit them and then post them online or, print them out at home. Whilst this is great for adults to capture moments, it is teaching our children to engage with mobiles even when they are out of the home. A fun way to ditch the mobile when out and about is to invest in a drone. Yes, it’s more new tech, but the idea of a drone is that you can film some great shots or a fun day out, whilst not being glued to a small device. Think of it as the modern kite flying. Only with the ability to capture image from the air. Check out this best drones for kids review and invest in something that will give you the capability of a mobile device, with much more and will keep little eyes looking up instead of down. Once you have caught some great images you can upload them onto your computer at home. Whilst it may not seem like a big deal, you are teaching your children that computer tech has a place. We shouldn’t completely avoid it but we shouldn’t be online all the time.
Regular bedtimes are vital and mobile phones, TV’s and computer games shouldn’t fit into that equation. Make sure you take away any electronic devices an hour before bedtime and instead get your children into a nice warm shower or a hot bath. This hour before bedtime should be about relaxing not stimulating the mind. If your child has difficulty with quiet rooms and enjoys a gentle story to help them off to sleep, you can invest in a Bose box which can be hooked up to your device downstairs and will play an audiobook for a set amount of time. Instead of allowing them to use their mobile as an alarm, buy a novelty alarm clock they will enjoy using.
Strip back everything from their bedrooms which isn’t about sleep or relaxing. Yes, they are going to throw one almighty strop, but in the long run your life is going to get a whole lot easier and, most importantly of all, they will be able to focus and achieve more during the day.
If you have done all of this and your child still has issues with sleep then you could attend a sleep clinic. This is not only a great source of comfort for parents, to find other parents with exactly the same issues, it can throw to light some reasons for lack of sleep. Obesity in young children can lead to sleep apnea which will prevent your child from long periods of rest. Get on top of bedtime, get informed and get help if you need it.