It’s three o’clock in the morning and you’ve just been woken for the tenth time by your two year old toddler.
You get out of bed and gently tuck them into theirs as you try to work out if there is something they need or if they just had a bad dream.
They’ve already had medication for teething, those molars coming through are giving them trouble day and night. They’ve had a drink and a nappy change. You struggle to work out the cause of their wakefulness.
Each time you are woken, though you hate to admit it, your patience and temper are getting shorter.
You feel exhausted all day, afraid you might fall asleep at work or lose your temper enough to say something you might regret.
You want to scream with frustration.
You read about the “terrible twos’’ and thought you were ready, but nothing prepared you for how you feel now and the depth of your exhaustion.
What happened to that one year old who slept soundly through the night?
What are you doing that’s so very wrong? How can we all get a decent night’s sleep?
The answer is in creating a consistent and calming bedtime routine.
How does a Bedtime Routine Help?
A consistent bedtime routine can have a huge impact on the whole night, reducing the number of times a toddler wakes and improving their ability to fall back to sleep on their own if they do wake. Young children feel safe with a regular routine — they know what is going to happen. Feeling safe aids children’s sleep patterns and reduces the likelihood of waking afraid, unable to fall back to sleep.
Where do we start?
First of all, it’s worth thinking about what we do before the bedtime routine. A couple of good habits in the hour leading up to bedtime will help your child’s internal clock, preparing them for sleep.
Blue light has been shown to disrupt our natural cycle and keep us awake. This is a major part of the light from screens so reduce use of these. This may meet with some resistance at first, but consistency from parents will help.