HeadStart Middlesbrough: Self-care and self-isolation
April 2, 2020
Foster Care Fortnight
May 12, 2020

In response to the current climate, a special edition newsletter has been produced by HeadStart Middlesbrough to provide access to a range of advice, support, and resources for children and young people, and families and professionals working with children and young people. We decided to share exerts from the newsletter in individual blogs as we believe it will help in these uncertain times.

The world is currently a frightening place for everyone, but for children and young people, their everyday life is very different as schools close and access to most leisure activity is no longer possible. We’re also working from home more, which brings its own challenges. In the next series of blogs, we’ll be covering some of the issues highlighted in the newsletter and, where relevant, sharing the contact details of some useful people.

Links within the newsletter have only been provided for reputable sources.

The importance of sleep

Even if children and young people are at home due to the closure of schools, it is important that they maintain a healthy sleeping pattern and night-time routine.

Why we sleep

Sleep is essential – it is as important to our bodies as eating, drinking, and breathing, and is vital for maintaining good mental and physical health. Sleep plays an important role in the function of the brain by forming new pathways and processing information. Research has shown that adequate sleep helps to improve memory and learning, increase attention and creativity, and aid in making decisions. Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well being throughout your life.

How to check if you are getting enough sleep

In the time before sleep

If possible, keep regular bedtimes. Check average sleep needs (see table above). Regular exercise and meals, but not too close to bedtime. Do not put pyjamas on too early – this gives the brain confusing messages. Have a warm bath before bed.

A light snack (e.g. a bowl of cereal, fruit, or yoghurt) 30 minutes before bed can help prevent disruption from night time hunger, but avoid evening ‘grazing’. Minimise use of caffeine, particularly in the evening period. Avoid cola, chocolate, tea, and coffee especially at this time. Fruit juices and squash can cause night time urgency. Minimise electronics use for the 60 minutes before bed. Consider relaxation strategies to wind down. A soothing bedtime story works well.

If your child is unable to sleep, help them get out of bed and do a quiet/relaxing activity.

Creating a good sleep environment

Make sure that the bedroom is quiet and dark. Keep the room a restful and peaceful haven. Black out blind will make the room darker if necessary. Is the bed comfortable? Is the bed too small? Regularly change the bedding. No TVs, iPads or phones to be used ideally in the hour before bed, especially in the bedroom. The blue light emitted from electronics suppresses the production of melatonin – our hormone that helps us sleep.

Keep room temperature between 16-18 degrees Celsius. High temperatures disturb sleep. Is the bed linen/duvet too much or too little? Have water beside the bed to drink if needed in the night. Build in a light snack before bed. Make sure your child gets a good dose of daylight first thing. In the winter months, you could use a Lumie clock (or similar). You could use a simple alarm clock to prevent early risers getting out of bed.

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