Children's poor routines cause parents sleepless nights - research finds

It is arguably the holy grail of a balanced family life and happiest of homes yet can also prove as elusive as the fabled crock of gold.

Many UK parents are missing out on uninterrupted sleep on a nightly basis  (photo: Adobe)
Many UK parents are missing out on uninterrupted sleep on a nightly basis (photo: Adobe)

A good night’s sleep is something rarely appreciated until it is no more.

And there is nothing like children to railroad through your quality slumber.

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It seems many parents are struggling to get their sleep back on track, long after those early days of family life characterised by a hungry baby.

Parents employ various means of trying to get their children to sleep (photo: Adobe)

British children are keeping parents up at night due to bedtime dramas and poor sleep routines, new research has found.

More than a fifth of parents have no nights of undisturbed sleep during the course of a week, according to the survey of 1,000 UK parents of children under the age of 16.

And more than half (58 per cent) get by on three or less nights of uninterrupted sleep on average during a typical week, rising to 82 per cent for those with a child aged under one year old.

Parents’ shut-eye is disturbed by demands from their little ones asking to climb into bed with them, shouting for them from their bedroom and waking them for a drink, according to the survey commissioned by Happy Linen Company.

“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,” said The Sleep Nanny Lucy Shrimpton.

“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.

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"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.”

Trying to lull their children to sleep can leave many parents hitting the deck ... literally!

Some 12 per cent of parents said they had slept on their child’s bedroom floor in a desperate bid to coax them to sleep.

British parents encourage their children to sleep using books and bedtime stories; letting their child get into bed with them; and leaving a light on in their room, the research found.

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For one in five parents, achieving a good sleep routine has not been possible.

And 12 per cent said it took them three months or more to achieve an appropriate sleep routine, amounting to more than 90 nights of encouraging bedtimes and coaxing sleep for exhausted British parents.

The research further revealed that the optimum bedtime routine for more than a third of UK parents is 15 to 30 minutes, as this ensures everyone in the household gets a good night's sleep.

But hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel with these pointers in the right direction of a peaceful slumber.

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Tips to create sleep-friendly environment for parents include:

1 Maintain cool bedroom (approximately 18 degrees C)

2 No artificial light, blackout blinds or curtains a must

3 Calm and quiet room and comfortable sleep space, using a weighted blanket before bed a great way to improve sleep quality, encourage relaxation and reduce anxiety

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4 Bedtime routine incorporating the same steps in the same order every evening at the same time

5 Adopting suitable, loving support strategy to help children fall asleep happily and resettle in the night until they can do this without parental input