There’s no hard and fast rule about how many hours of sleep children need but there’s no doubting that they need plenty, especially in the early years. NHS guidelines exist to give parents an idea of what they should be aiming for but there are so many factors that can make these difficult to achieve.
Among the things that can prevent children from getting their full sleep quota are noise, heat, cold, light, the feeling that they are missing out and many other distractions I’m sure. The good news is that little ones can usually be trained to sleep despite these outside influences or we can control the environment they sleep in to ensure that it promotes sleep. For example, we can install blackout blinds in an effort to ensure that bedrooms are fully dark so that light mornings don’t mean a prematurely early start. Though black out blinds alone are often not the Holy Grail – see my previous post.
Kids also get used to sleeping through noise, especially if they’ve had to drop off despite noisy surroundings (read older siblings!) from an early age. Although, I had to think on my feet recently when my son called for me at 5am asking why the seagulls were awake and he was still in bed.
Of course, that said, some children just won’t play ball whatever we do.
No more compromises
Cardboard boxes, drawing pins, black paint, draft excluders – just a few of the weird and wonderful things desperate parents use to block out the light that leaks in through the sides of blackout roller blinds. I thought I was the only neurotic mother desperate to eliminate any ray of light getting into my children’s bedrooms, but it appears not. In fact, my attempts to hang any type of fabric down the sides of the blinds seem pretty tame in comparison to one suggestion of bricking up the window!
Entirely dark room
The one thing that all the people sharing the ideas above have in common, other than posting on Mumsnet, is that they believe the key to their children sleeping well is to have an entirely dark room. And it seems that this is more difficult to achieve than you first think. A blackout roller blind or roman blind on its own is rarely enough to eliminate all light, hence the Heath Robinson-type solutions above. And even if they do prove effective, there is one more problem. Just when the mornings are getting lighter earlier the nights are also heating up so windows need to be open to let in fresh air. Unfortunately, sticking or pinning the blinds to the window frame doesn’t allow air in to circulate and it might not even be possible to open the windows at all.
So the conundrum is a hot room or a dark room? Either way, it probably means a less than full night’s sleep. Not any more … now that we have BlindSides™.