Nurturing Healthy Sleep Habits: A Guide for Parents from a Holistic Sleep Coach - Hues Clothing

Nurturing Healthy Sleep Habits: A Guide for Parents from a Holistic Sleep Coach

Emma is a holistic sleep coach and she works with families to create totally bespoke sleep guides based on the family's sleep goals, their family dynamics, parenting style and loads more. She uses evidence-based and responsive strategies to inform all her recommendations. Emma is also someone whom I have had the pleasure of meeting IRL, and her holistic approach to sleep and parenting is definitely something we can all learn from. 

Hello you,

Welcome to your guide; lovingly written by me, Emma: a Holistic Sleep Coach ( My aim with this blog is to help you unlock the secrets to nurturing evidence-based sleep habits for your family. In this guide I’ll delve into eight sleep hygiene tips that are not only easily implementable but are also rooted in sleepy science, to give you the best possible sleep foundations for your little ones.

So dive in a see what extra things you can seamlessly weave into your daily rhythm to bid adieu to restless nights.

But first, what exactly is sleep hygiene?

Well, it's not about washing pyjamas or bedsheets (although that's obviously important too). Sleep hygiene encompasses all those habits and practices that help create the perfect environment for a good night's rest. While we often think of sleep hygiene as something for adults, it's equally vital for our little ones.

Now that we've established the importance and meaning of sleep hygiene, let's get into the nitty-gritty of creating some beautiful sleep foundations for your family.

1. “All of the lights”; dimmed

Let's talk about light. Our bodies follow a natural rhythm, called the circadian rhythm, which tells us when it's time to be awake and when it's time to sleep. Little ones are not born with a circadian rhythm and so have no idea about the difference between night and day. Studies tell us that newborns’ little body clocks come into their own anywhere between 3-6 months.

Light exposure plays a significant role in regulating this cycle, and the blue light emitted from screens can mess with this rhythm and prohibit the production of melatonin – our sleepy hormone. So, make sure to dim the lights in the evening, and limit screen time an hour or so before bedtime. So for the kids, it’s storybook time instead of TV and it’s an audiobook or a podcast instead of scrolling time for you.

2. A predictable & soothing bed & nap time routine

It's like a well-choreographed dance where the same activities take place in the same order every time. You can use this routine for both naps (a shorter version) and bedtime. Be mindful though that it isn’t too short, leaving your little one restless and not allowing enough time to wind down and prepare for bedtime, nor too long, risking overtiredness and potential dysregulation or hyperactivity.

Aim for that sweet spot, usually around 30 to 45 minutes – just enough to work its magic (depending on age). And here's an extra little secret: sticking to just one room once the bedtime has started helps set those important boundaries for bedtime- try to make this the room they’ll be sleeping in.

3. Maximise their daytime naps

Naps serve a vital purpose: lowering cortisol levels and keeping sleep pressure from building up too much. If your little one is still napping, ensure that naps are well-timed for their sleep needs: some will need longer naps than others and short naps are not always the enemy.

The trick is to try and space them out equally through the day, ideally in the middle of their 'awake time.' This way, they'll neither be overtired nor bursting with energy come bedtime.

But here's the little bedtime story twist: sometimes, our little sleepers might decide to use up more of their sleep quota during the day. While this sounds like a good thing, it can lead to night wakes and early rising. This is why there's a delicate balance to strike in the world of naps.

4. Positive Vibes With the Bedroom

Just as it's not ideal for this cozy space to be linked with stress and punishment, it's equally unhelpful for it to scream excitement and playtime! The bedroom should be a sanctuary of calm and serenity, a place where positivity and sleep reign supreme, especially when you're making tweaks to sleep routines.

So, let's keep the bedroom a happy haven for restful nights! 5. Outdoor Adventures and Exercise

Exposure to daylight, along with ample fresh air and exercise, isn't just a recipe for a fun-filled day; it's a scientifically-backed strategy for promoting healthy sleep. As we already know, natural light exposure helps regulate our circadian rhythms, which govern our sleep-wake cycle. It signals to our bodies that it's time to be alert during the day and wind down at night, ultimately improving sleep quality.

Additionally, being physically tired can also be a totally gamechanger for sleep, one that we sometimes overlook. Physical activity increases the production of serotonin; a neurotransmitter that can enhance mood and relaxation, making it easier for little ones to settle into slumber.

By combining daylight, fresh air, and exercise, you're creating the ideal conditions for a restorative and peaceful night's sleep for your little ones. It's a winning formula that science fully endorses.

So, make the most of those sunny afternoons and breezy mornings. Let your children explore, discover, and soak up the goodness of the great outdoors.

5. Quality Time and the 'Love Tank'

Remember, sleep is a huge separation and one that many children, throughout their childhood, will struggle with. Make room for abundant quality time throughout the day, as it can be a powerful ally in the quest for peaceful sleep.

There are times when children's sleep may be impacted by missing their parents or grappling with separation anxiety. During these moments, the magic lies in filling their 'love tank' with dedicated one-on- one moments.

By showering them with focused, heart-to-heart connections during daytime hours, you're not only providing reassurance but also nurturing a sense of security. We’re talking eye contact, skin contact, not doing any chores: you’re solely focused on your little one and giving them your undivided attention – even for just 10/20 minutes a day. These precious moments of bonding can truly work wonders, making all the difference in your child's sleep patterns.

6. Dinner Delights: Foods That Fuel Sleep

Consider your child's dinner choices with care. Opt for complex carbohydrates, proteins, and low-sugar options instead of simple carbs like white bread and pasta, which can lead to sugar spikes. Some superstars

for sleep include turkey, bananas, eggs, spinach, cherries, and jasmine rice. On the flip side, it's wise to steer clear of tomatoes, aubergine, and that sneaky caffeine found in chocolate before bedtime.

7. Beyond Bedtime: Addressing Health Concerns for Sound Sleep

It's not just about bedtime routines; addressing health concerns that can affect sleep should be a priority. Keep an eye out for issues like eczema, asthma, recurrent coughs and colds, pain, allergies, and intolerances.

Sometimes, sleep troubles are merely the tip of the iceberg, and tackling these underlying health concerns is often the key to restoring peaceful sleep.

8. Sensory Harmony: Tailoring Sleep for Your Unique Child

Finally; a vital yet often overlooked aspect of sleep hygiene – sensory needs. Every child is a one-of-a-kind unique little soul, and understanding and embracing their sensory preferences can be a game-changer for their sleep.

Some little ones are super-sensitive to sensory input: sensory avoiders- finding certain textures or sounds unsettling. Others might seek out sensory stimulation: sensory seekers. Take, for instance, a child with diverse sensory processing – they might discover tranquillity beneath the gentle embrace of a weighted blanket.

Some might find solace in soft, fuzzy pyjamas, while others relish the cool caress of cotton.

The key? Observe your little one closely and adapt their sleep surroundings to cater to their sensory quirks and create a personalised sleep sanctuary.

So there you have it, a recipe for creating evidence-based and brilliant sleep foundations for your family. As parents, we want nothing more than for our children to flourish and thrive. Remember, children have their needs, and night-time waking is entirely normal – far more normal than society might have us believe.

With good sleep hygiene, you can rest assured that you're building a solid foundation, and eliminating any worry about doing something wrong.

While the journey of sleep with our little ones may not always follow a straight line, with these tips, patience, and consistency, you'll find a gentler and less stressful approach to sleep.

So, here's to restful nights and energized mornings for both you and your little one – sweet dreams!

Emma x

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