Sleep Nanny


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Dr Sarah Blunden from the Centre for Sleep Research is Adelaide's very own super sleep nanny, and she is on a mission to change children's bad bed time behaviour.

"If parents were to understand more clearly that lack of sleep can cause all manner of problems in the day for their child and potentially in the long term health problems, then perhaps that would become more of a priority," says Dr Blunden.

She's found a whopping 40 % of Aussie kids have trouble not only falling asleep, but staying asleep and alarmingly, it's creating havoc with their emotions and their ability to learn.

"I think we live in a 24-hour society. We have the electric light and all kinds of wonderful things that happen all night long."

But sadly, it's those wonderful things that are keeping our kids awake and buzzing, night, after night.

"The first thing we do is get rid of the sweets and the next thing we have to do, at least half an hour before bedtime, is turn the television off."

Sarah says getting crabby kids to bed can be made a lot easier, by employing a few simple tricks like hot milk before bed-time.

"If a child has dinner at 5, 5:30, they're gonna go to bed at 7:30 or eight, they may be hungry. But eating at that time of night is really not terrific, so a hot milk maybe will fill up their tummies and get them to sleep without a problem."

When the kids do finally get into bed, make sure there are no TVs or other distractions.

"It's also really good that the bedroom is going to be dim and quiet."

Most importantly, parents need to set their kids a regular bed time routine.

It's a practice that Adelaide mum Darlene Ford says changed her five-year-old daughter, Kealy.

"I had a lot of those behavioural problems before she started school and now I think everyone, including her own family, have seen the change. She's more in control of her emotions and a much happier child."

"I think one of the greatest things a parent can do is regular sleep times, bed times and wake times. To have very irregular times of going to sleep doesn't allow the body to set itself into a rhythm."

But if you've tried everything and still, your kids can't get a good night's sleep, Sarah says there may be a physiological reason. And a sleep unit like the one here in Adelaide can help.