During our recent trip to India I was lucky enough to have a chat to some of the parents about a few similarities and differences in child behaviour between both of our countries. The topic that stood out to me the most was getting children to go to bed on time.

Although our countries share this similarity, it was interesting to note that the reasons for children going to bed late seem to differ between these countries. For example, in Australia, apart from the usual 5000 reasons children give for not going to sleep at bed time (e.g. they need a drink of water, a hug, another bed time story, to tell you something extremely important, they suddenly remembered what they did at school today and you need to know immediately, even though they specifically said earlier today that nothing happened at school, they need the toilet, there’s monsters under the bed… and so on and so forth) I suspect the main reason for bed times being so late in Australia is due to the increased use of technology in the bedroom (and I think this is an issue not just for children, but for adults also!).

Contrast this to India, which is where I found the main reason for late bedtimes quite fascinating. The parents I spoke to indicated that the family usually wait for everyone to be home so that they can have dinner together with the children before bed. The main issue with this is that the work day tends to finish a lot later in India than in Australia, meaning that dinner may not be served until around 9 or 10pm at night.

So what can we do about the issue of late bed times? Here in Australia, there are definitely things that can be done to reduce technology use, make sure children get to bed earlier, and have better quality sleep:

  1. Avoid technology before bedAvoid all forms of technology before bed (including; TV, ipods, ipads, phones, laptops, videogames etc)Research has found a relationship between the use of technology before bed and difficulties falling asleep, as well as a reduction in the quality of sleep experienced. We therefore recommend avoiding technology before bed and engaging in other activities such as reading, listening to music or relaxation techniques as an alternative. These activities can easily be woven into the bedtime routine.

    It may also be beneficial to make sure there is no technology available in your child’s room (e.g. no TV, ipads, phones etc in the bedroom at night time)

  2. RoutineIt may be beneficial to establish a bed time routine with your child. For example, brush teeth, go to the toilet, put on pajamas, say goodnight to stuffed toys, read a book, lights out.For older children, the routine may include additional things with less guidance from you such as a relaxation activity, free time to play a quiet game, read alone etc.

    If you would like to introduce relaxation activities into your child’s routine but aren’t sure where to start, make sure you sign up to our newsletter (we will share a relaxation strategy in our next issue!)

  3. Use the bedroom for sleeping onlyAvoid using the bedroom for activities other than bedtime routine and sleeping.For example, make sure homework is completed in the study or in a quiet area in the house, play and technology can be in the games room, lounge room or other appropriate area of the house.

    This will help your child to associate the bedroom with sleep only, which can help to reduce the temptation to want to play or use technology when they should be sleeping… it may even help them go to sleep quicker!

These are just a few examples of strategies than can be used to help your children get to bed on time (and hopefully stay there!)

We have a heap more strategies to share with you in the next few weeks when we launch the ohbeehave website. We will also be giving away a massive

2000 free memberships

So that you can access these strategies for free! These memberships will go quickly – make sure you sign up to our newsletter so you will be the first to hear when the website launches, and be one of the first to get a free membership for life!

Lastly… what if the reason for late bed times is due to having dinner together as a family? Well… I’m not really sure if there is a strategy I would suggest to change that. Having dinner together as a family is one of the most important things you can do with your children. I’m not sure how common it is for families to have dinner at the table together in Australia these days, but it is something I hope we will prioritise when we have children. It is unfortunate if the trade-off for spending time together as a family is sleep… but whether or not that would apply to us over here I guess depends on the individual family. Either way, I think there is still an important learning to take away here – and I am impressed by the efforts families will go to, to ensure they spend time together!

How about you? Do you wish your kids would just get into bed and stay there? Is dinner together as a family a priority? Do you have a great strategy to get your kids to bed on time that works for you? Let us know in the comments below!

References:

Adams, S., Daly, JK. & Williford, D. (2013). Adolescent Sleep and Cellular Phone Use: Recent Trends and Implications for Research. Health Services Insights. (6)

Gradisar, M. Wolfson, A., Harvey, A., Hale, L., Rosenberg, R. & Czeisler, A. (2013). The Sleep and Technology Use of Americans: Findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s 2011 Sleep in America Poll. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. 9(12)

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