Want to help you child sleep better at night? Start by looking at your child’s entire day, and not just the hours before bedtime. The advice comes from Physiotherapist, Rikke Randrup Skaaning, who helps sleep-deprived families return to a good night’s sleep.
- Physiotherapist, Rikke Randrup Skaaning, advises families who are struggling with sleepless nights to:
- Take a look at the child’s entire day. Has there been enough physical activity and social interaction during the day?
- Limit screen time and remove phones and tablets from the bedroom altogether.
- Warm hugs and cuddling help to release two sleep-boosting hormones.
Limit Screen Time During the Day
In her daily work, Physiotherapist Rikke Randrup Skåning meets many parents who struggle with their children’s sleep. She always advises the parents to take a critical look at all hours of their child’s day, and not just the hours leading up to bedtime.
"Good sleep depends on our hormones being in balance. So, if your child has had a day with lots of physical activity and social interactions, the conditions for sound sleep are good. On the other hand, a day with for example too much inactive screen time will have a negative effect on your child's sleep,” says Rikke Randrup Skaaning.
She explains why screen time in particular can have a negative effect on your child’s sleep: "Children need plenty of undisturbed sleep because their brains are still developing. The Danish Health Authority recommends that you limit your child’s screen time, simply because it robs your child of the time they should be physically and socially active. Especially babies need eye contact with their mums and dads. With older children and adults, the Danish Health Authority sees a tendency of the screens to postpone the moment when we fall asleep, so we get less sleep overall."
Physical Presence Helps Us Calm Down
Rikke Randrup Skaaning recommends you set up family rules for how much time you wish to spend in front of a screen. She also recommends that you remove phones and tablets entirely from your bedrooms and bedtime routines and instead focus on being physically and mentally present.
"Something so simple as sitting closely together while reading a bedtime story or to cuddle your little baby will trigger the love hormone, oxytocin, which calms us down. On top of this, you can activate your sleep hormone, melatonin, by choosing a healthy diet, being physically active during the day, and avoiding artificial lights around bedtime. With a well-balance body and mind, falling asleep and staying soundly asleep will be easier," says Rikke Randrup Skaaning and concludes:
"In that way, warm hugs and lots of cuddling are sort of the antidote to the sleepless and restless nights."
She emphasises that sleep is a complex matter and advises you to consult with your child’s health visitor or doctor in case your child’s sleep problems continue.
Meet our Team of Experts
One expert is an experienced family advisor who has met hundreds of Danish families. Another expert has dedicated his entire life to researching children's well-being and development through play. And some of the other experts specialise in children's motor skills, sensory integration, and learning. Together, they inspire us to provide your children with better sleep, develop them through play, and support them when they study.
At FLEXA Insight, you will find all the experts’ valuable insights, tips, and ideas.