THEY SAY there is nothing more important than a good night’s sleep, but new research has revealed that British kids are keeping parents up at night due to bedtime dramas and poor sleep routines.
We commissioned a survey of 1,000 UK parents of children under 16, finding that more than 1 in 5 (21%) parents have zero nights of undisturbed sleep a week, meaning every night there are bedtime dramas for the nation’s parents to deal with.
The majority (58%) confess to only getting as little as three or less nights of undisturbed sleep on average during a typical week, increasing to a staggering 82% for those with a child under one.
When asked how their sleep routine is disturbed, 1 in 4 say their little one asks to climb into bed with them, nearly a quarter (24%) hear their child shouting for them from their bedroom, while 22% say they wake them up asking for a drink.
Looking at how else British parents try to encourage their kids to hit the pillow and sleep, 1 in 3 rely on books and bedtime stories, 31% let their child get into bed with them, while 22% leave a light on in their room in the hope this settles them down for the night.
When it comes to children finally settling into a good sleep routine and accepting an appropriate set bedtime, the research revealed that for an exhausted 20% of parents, this is still a work in progress – meaning for 1 in 5 parents achieving a good sleep routine has not been possible.
More than 1 in 10 (12%) say it took them a whopping three months or more to achieve an appropriate sleep routine – which is more than 90 nights of encouraging bedtimes and coaxing sleep for exhausted British parents.
Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny shares her insights on the new research revealed:
“These survey results are not surprising to me and I feel passionately about helping parents to understand that it does not have to be this way – it is not healthy and there is a lack of awareness of the damage this does long term to both parent and child well-being.
We expect our sleep to be disturbed when babies are young and night feeds are needed but this ought to be short term and with coping strategies to support the parent’s sleep. If our children are still disrupting our sleep patterns through the early years of childhood and beyond, it tells us something has not been addressed to support sleep.
One night of undisturbed sleep in a week can be seriously damaging. We all move through cycles of sleep and have types of wakings in the night, it is natural. However, when someone or something interferes with your cycles, breaking your sleep rhythms, you don’t just lose precious hours of sleep but you miss out on stages of sleep that are crucial for our health.
We are all different and we do have different sleep needs so it is not a case of what we or our children ‘should’ be doing with sleep but more a question of whether we ‘could’ be sleeping better and these survey results suggest that an overwhelming percentage of families most certainly could be getting healthier sleep.
As parents and caregivers, we are not educated on the many and complex ways to support our children’s sleep because there is no one-size-fits-all answer and this is why so many parents are left confused and feeling helpless, resorting to laying on their children’s bedroom floors and driving them around in the night – it is simply a survival strategy!
But we are overlooking the impact of these strategies on the parents’ health, well-being and safety. Driving on less than 5 hours of sleep is worse than driving under the influence of alcohol and yet so many parents get behind the wheel with their children in the car, completely oblivious of their sleep deprived state.
One simple and easy solution to help kids sleep better at night is to use weighted blankets as part of their bedtime routine. Not only do they ease stress and soothe anxiety before bed, but they are also guaranteed to provide comfort and improve sleep quality so both children and adults can enjoy a more peaceful night sleep.”
Lucy Shrimpton, Sleep Nanny, Top Tips to Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment for Parents:
- Maintain a cool bedroom (approx. 18 degrees C is ideal).
- No artificial light, so blackout blinds or curtains are a must for naps.
- A calm and quiet room and a comfortable sleep space. Using a weighted blanket before bed is a great way to improve sleep quality, encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety.
- A bedtime routine that incorporates the same steps in the same order every evening at the same time.
- Adopting a suitable, loving support strategy to help children fall asleep happily and resettle in the night until they can do this without parental input.