KIDS has been working in partnership with the CCG and Local Authority in Hull to support a Sleep Pilot looking at the extent of the difficulties parents of disabled children face and what can be done to support them. Sleep Practitioner, and author of 'Sleep and Your Special Needs Child', Victoria Dawson, supported some of this work and provides five tips to help to assess a child’s bedroom and make it the perfect place for a good night’s sleep....
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.
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.
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 in June 2014.