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Parents Struggle To Get Kids To Sleep, Spend An Hour Each Night

Poll reveals bedtime stalling tactics, reliance on cuddly toys, and sleep deprivation among parents.

It takes parents around an hour on average to get each child off to sleep every night, with 80 percent having to read up to three stories before they settle down.

A poll of 1,000 parents, with kids aged 0-8, found 62 percent of parents struggle to get their children settled at bedtime.

Just over three in 10 (31 percent) of crafty kids will ask mom or dad a succession of questions to keep them in the room.

And around a quarter (23 percent) say they won’t be able to drop off until their special toy has been found.

Other stalling tactics include feeling too hot or cold (29 percent), claiming to be scared of the dark (25 percent), or hearing straight noise (17 percent).

Just under a fifth will even claim they think there is a monster under the bed.

The research was commissioned by the kids’ TV show Hey Duggee, in line with the launch of its new Sleepy Time bedtime toy, which revealed that 37 per cent of parents rely on giving their child a cuddly toy to help them fall asleep.

A poll of 1,000 parents, with kids aged 0-8, found 62 percent of parents struggle to get their children settled at bedtime. PHOTO BY GOLDEN BEAR/SWNS 

Child sleep specialist Mandy Gurney, founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, who is supporting the campaign, said: “We shouldn’t underestimate how important the small elements of a bedtime routine are.

“Just having a lively splashy bath with lots of toys, exciting stories and chatting at bedtime can prevent a child falling asleep.

“If parents can think tranquil ‘spa’ rather than fun ‘water park’ at bedtime they may be surprised how much easier bedtime becomes.

“In the hour before bed, dim lights, turn off screens and keep things as calm and relaxing as you can, to enable your child to quickly and easily drift off to sleep.”

It was found 75 percent check on their child up to five times per night – and 61 percent can’t remember the last time they had a full night’s sleep.

Child sleep specialist Mandy Gurney, founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic, who is supporting the campaign, said: “We shouldn’t underestimate how important the small elements of a bedtime routine are. PHOTO BY CLARK CRUZ/PEXELS 

Almost three-quarters of parents (70 percent) have suffered the consequences of their child’s nighttime awakenings and have felt sleep-deprived.

When a little one does wake up in the night, 28 percent will bring them into their own bed to help them go back to sleep.

But 13 percent of those polled, via OnePoll, will rely on some kind of audio soothing system, like low music or white noise, to usher them back to the land of nod.

Mandy Gurney added: “At 2 am on Sunday 29th October the clocks will go back by an hour in the UK.

“While some of us will be looking forward to an extra hour in bed or out on the town, parents of early-rising little ones may be dreading the change.

“Just when they’d got their child to sleep until 6.00 am, the clock change will play havoc with their child’s morning wake time and this thought will send many parents into a spin.

“I know from my years of experience of helping parents with their children’s sleep problems, that early rising is probably one of the most difficult sleep issues to resolve.

“If parents start implementing these simple series of tips in advance, they should avoid their delightful 6.00am lark turning into a 5.00 am party.”


1.    Needs to go to the toilet, again (34%)
2.    Asks for a snack and / or drink (33%)
3.    Asks for another story (32%)
4.    Asks you a succession of questions to try and keep you in their bedroom (31%)
5.    Says they feel too hot, or too cold (29%)
6.    Says they feel scared of the dark (25%)
7.    Cries when you leave the room and won’t settle until you return (24%)
8.    Says they can’t find their special toy (23%)
9.    Asks to watch TV (21%)
10.   Tells you they will feel lonely if you leave the room (20%)
11.   Say they can hear a strange noise (17%)
12.   Say they feel scared there might be a monster under their bed (17%)
13.   Tells you a worry (15%)


•     Move your child’s body clock

A few nights before the clock change delay the start of your child’s bedtime routine putting them to bed 15 minutes later than their usual time. Repeat the process until their bedtime has moved an hour later.

Don’t worry if your child still wakes at the same time in the morning, by slowly shifting their body clock you will find the morning will soon catch up.
If they are having naps you will need to adjust these in the same way, along with meal and milk times.

•     During the day

Light has the biggest influence on our body clocks and with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.

So get the family outside into the afternoon light with lots of outdoors play, this will help to keep them up that little bit later at bedtime.

•     Have relaxation time

Before you start the bedtime routine encourage your child to have a wind down time.
Change their activities to something relaxing and non-stressful in the half hour run up to the start of their bedtime routine, such as a crafting activity or jigsaw puzzles.

It is vital that an hour before your child goes to sleep you make sure you turn off all TVs, tablets and computers.

Recent research has shown that even four minutes of bright light from these screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.

•     Bedtime routine

About 30 minutes before your child goes to bed carry out the same series of steps every night.

Having a regular routine that you follow each night means your child’s body will start to prepare for sleep as soon as you start this process.

This is especially important when you are making adjustments to their bedtime to help with the clock change.

•     The morning

Try to delay your child’s morning milk and breakfast by 15 minutes every few days too, so they don’t wake early expecting food.

And avoid the temptation of giving your child milk or food if they wake too early, in the hope that will get them back to sleep; you could be setting up longer term habits you don’t want.

•     If your child is waking early

Early morning waking can be one the most tiring problems for parents and often one of the most difficult to resolve.

Unlike you, most young children feel refreshed and ready to start their day if they wake at this time.

The good news is though, with patience and consistency you can help your child sleep later or learn to stay in bed longer in the morning.

Young children have no point of reference for when they can get up and play. A simple light with a low-watt bulb, plugged into a timer switch in their room will help them to know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to get up.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

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