For most children their bedroom is far more than just the place where they go to sleep. It is the place where they play, study, listen to music, read and perhaps watch TV. For many it is also the place they go to be alone away from pestering siblings or, for that matter, parents! 

While all of these activities are important for our child’s development the part that sleep plays in this process cannot be overemphasised. So how can we make our Kid’s bedrooms fulfil all of the demands that a child needs of their room and still ensure that they sleep well and are not distracted? 

The problems:

Television and computers. Studies have shown that watching television or playing computer games cause certain reactions in our bodies; one of these is the increased production of the chemical dopamine. This causes many reactions in our body: increased heart rate and blood pressure to name two. Neither of these is desirable just before it is time to sleep. 

Light. Be it natural daylight or artificial, light suppresses the production of melatonin. This hormone controls sleep and wake cycles. Suppressing the production of melatonin at night can lead to sleeplessness. The worst type of light that causes reduction in melatonin production is short-wavelength light that is typically emitted by televisions, mobile phones and computer screens. 

Noise. We have all heard of people who can sleep through anything but the vast majority of people struggle to sleep when it is too noisy. While a level of background noise can be soothing for some children, the level of noise needs to be low otherwise the sleep will be disturbed and they may not achieve deep sleep levels at all. 

Room temperature. A room that is too cold or too warm will affect sleep. A kids’ room that is too cold can prevent your child from getting any deep or REM sleep at all. A kids’ room that is too warm can have them tossing and turning and throwing off the covers. 

The solutions:

Use a room thermometer to monitor the temperature in your kid’s bedroom. There is no one temperature setting that is right for every child. But if you know the room temperature then if your child says it is too hot or too cold you can try to adjust the temperature until the right one is found. Generally speaking the bedroom should be cooler at night than it is during the day and it should always be well ventilated.

Set a time to switch off the TV and all other light emitting gadgets such as computers and mobile phones, this should ideally be about 1 hour before bedtime.

Reduce the light levels in your kid’s bedroom both artificial light such as lamps and TV’s as well as light from windows and doors. Use thick curtains or blackout blinds especially during the summer months when it is often still light at bedtime.

Try to reduce noise from other parts of the house when it is bedtime perhaps turning down TV and music noise levels and closing doors. If you decide to use some background noise to help your child sleep then try and set a timer for the noise to go off so that it does not play all night and actually disturb their sleep.

We are all creatures of habit so having a predictable regular bedtime routine will help our children make a smoother transition between wake time and sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps set the body’s internal clock. This way our kid’s body’s instinctively expect sleep at a certain time every night. By sticking to this routine even at weekends it should prevent the ‘Jet lag’ feeling on Monday morning (covered in another blog).