Sleep, the best medicine

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

Going without or ‘not needing’ the recommended 7 - 8 hours sleep a night used to be a badge of honour, a sign of being more committed, more ambitious - or just plain cooler than the average sleepy head. We have all probably read about Elon Musk, Margaret Thatcher and other power-ahead types who can get by on 4 hours a night.

Sleep study at Evelina London Children Hospital
My son, Spike, having a sleep study at Evelina London Children Hospital.

But science has established beyond any doubt what most of have always suspected. Getting enough sleep is absolutely essential to our physical and mental well-being, productivity, concentration, creativity and long term health. And that's just for us adults.

Sleep deprivation can lead to exhaustion, impacting our ability to function well both for ourselves and as carers. For growing, developing children it is even more crucial.

During sleep our body and immune system repair themselves, we consolidate our memory and the brain processes information learned in the day. It is really important that children sleep! They may need more than eight hours - particularly during growth periods. But at a time of anxiety and uncertainty and when normal life routines have had to change, #sleep can easily be disrupted. A child that does not sleep properly nearly always means a parent that does not sleep properly.embers can follow each other, write and reply to comments and receive blog notifications. Each member gets their own personal profile page that they can customize.

Even in less disturbed times, it is estimated that 86% of children with additional needs have issues with sleep. So if you are the carer of a child with sleep issues, you are not alone! Below are some of our Top Tips for Better Sleep and CLICK HERE to download Covid-19 Sleep Tips from Evelina London.

Top Tips For Better Sleep:

- Avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime. What we watch can make us excited and stimulated and the blue light from devices like laptops, televisions and phones makes us produce less melatonin. Melatonin is a chemical that occurs naturally in our body and helps us get to sleep - it starts being produced as light fades. Instead try to have a relaxing routine of games, reading or audio books. - Don’t go to bed either hungry nor on a full stomach - particularly if you have a stoma! Our sleep and digestive processes are interlinked and both food and hunger can keep us awake. - Stop drinking fluid an hour before bed and make sure your child has a wee before sleep - (see our blog on incontinence HERE) - If possible go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning - our routines have probably changed since recent events but routine sets up helpful patterns in our body. - Make sure the room is ventilated and neither too hot nor too cold, weighted blankets can help some children to feel less anxious. Cooler air with warm bedding works for us.Hot water bottle when it is cold can be a great way to help a child relax. - It takes around 15 minutes to enter into a deep sleep state and a child can wake easily during this time. If you stay with them whilst they fall asleep don’t suddenly leave the room as you may wake them up! - A bath before bed time can be very relaxing and get us in the mood for sleep. - We all tend to sleep better if we have take some physical excercise during the day. - Avoid caffienated drinks such as coke, coffee etc. from the mid afternoon onwards. - Massage is a useful distraction, it can detract the brain from more painful experiences. - Lavender essential oil is relaxing - put a few drops in a bowl of water on a radiator or put a couple of drops in the bath.

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