If your child wakes regularly in the night it can leave you exhausted … and it might be their bedroom that is to blame! Children with special needs can be particularly sensitive to their environment, and a calming bedroom can help them fall asleep, and stay asleep all night. Here are five tips to help you from sleep practitioner Victoria Dawson, author of Sleep and Your Special Needs Child, to help you assess your child’s bedroom and make it the perfect place for a good night’s sleep.
1. Check that the temperature is consistent throughout the night. Ideally it should be between 16 to 18 degrees. Your child can wake because they are too hot or because they are too cold. Check your child’s bedding is right for them too: are they kicking off covers because they are hot?
2. Choose calming colours in the bedroom, bright colours can overstimulate. Think pale blues, greens and even pale pinks and purples.
3. Think about your child’s sensory needs, just because you like a soft mattress doesn’t mean your child will! Some children like firm surfaces: one child was getting out of bed every night to sleep on the floor because her mattress was soft.
4. Go and experience your child’s bedroom for yourself. There may be noises that you don’t hear from your room, such a TV below that may be disturbing their sleep. Equally, if your child is an early waker does their room get disturbed by traffic noise?
5. Blackout blinds are a great way to keep the room darkened during light mornings. Children with sensory impairments however may need a soft glowing night light in the room to feel secure.
Sleep and Your Special Needs Child addresses sleep problems using a highly successful behavioural and cognitive approach to sleep management, and is the first book to explain these approaches in detail. The practical advice contained is invaluable for parents who want to feel more in control and more confident about tackling sleep issues in a way that is appropriate for their child. If you need more help, you can also contact The Children’s Sleep Charity. The charity works with children from the age of 1 so they and their parents are supported to get a good night’s sleep.
There is much more in depth advice on making your child’s bedroom a good environment for sleep, as well as many more topics, in Sleep and Your Special Needs Child, out this month.