Sleep tips have to be one of the most written about subjects when it comes to babies and children, so I will do my very best to not bore you with stuff you have already read. Now, health warning on this, I’m not a doctor and claim no expertise other than having dealt with the problem – a lot. So here are my top 5.
1.Starting with the most bizarre, I was very lucky to have had a lovely Ecuadorian nanny for the girls. One evening, when they were a bit older, she announced she was going to give them lettuce milk. Now, I was incredibly sceptical but also incredibly desperate for a good night sleep, so the lettuce experiment commenced. All she did was put a lettuce leaf to soak in their warm milk at bed and to my surprise I genuinely believe it helped. Now it appears I may not be alone in this, as shortly after I was reading Beatrix Potter: The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and came across this: …. the little bunnies ‘did not awake because the lettuces had been so soporific’. So maybe lettuce milk isn’t so mad after all?
2.My next tip actually started off as something I use; insomnia appears to run in the family. For sometime now I have been addicted to ‘This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray’ and during one of her midnight missions, Lady Iz told me she preferred my bed as it smelt so nice and calm. Now, I was obviously being played but then I thought about my pillow spray. Next time I was out I discovered they did one for kids – ‘Sleep Like a Prince/Princess – Baby Sleep Pillow Spray. It contains lavender, vetivert and camomile and she genuinely believes it helps her sleep – which to be honest, is good enough for me.
3.There aren’t many kids who like the dark and we went through all the night light phase and the lights on in the hall etc. etc. but over time we found that light just made it worse. The science is that exposure to darkness triggers the production of melatonin, which among other things makes us sleepy and exposure to light does the reverse. So for us putting those night-lights in the bin, investing in black out blinds and dimming every other light possible was yet another steps forward.
4.Something for the older ones, I am pretty relentless in my search for ways to get my kids to sleep and this one I found online. It is called the 4-7-8 breathing technique and promises to help you nod off in 60 seconds – had to be worth a try. It was developed by Harvard trained Dr. Andrew Weil and basically all you need to do is exhale completely through your mouth while making a 'whoosh' sound.
Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Now hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale completely through your mouth, making another whoosh sound for eight second in one large breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three times.
Clearly the whoosh sound provokes great hilarity but for us, even if it didn’t result in sleep 60 seconds later, it definitely beat counting sheep. If you are interested, head to YouTube.
5. The last tip is something we try to enforce each night - no fights or negotiations before bedtime. This is almost impossible and still something we are working on but getting rid of any drama definitely makes settling to sleep easier. One thing that weirdly helps is that my girls are obsessed with stop watches and egg timers – they like knowing how fast, how long, how much quicker or slower? So when I know bedtime is going to be tricky, out it comes and rather than me being the bad guy saying ‘bed’ or there being any ambiguity about what 5 minutes actually means – we use the timer. What I have found is that they seem to accept its judgment and whilst they might not be happy about going to bed, they are definitely more compliant - after all it really isn’t much fun trying to argue with a clock.
Sweet Dreams (hopefully....)