Sleep is one of the most important things your child needs to support their rapid development. And not just any sleep but a good night sleep.
But getting your kids to sleep can be quite tough, not to mention it usually turns into a bedtime battle with them.
So, how can you best put your child to sleep? And how do you make them hit the bed at the right time, stay asleep with a sufficient number of hours, and wake up refreshed and active the next day?
It all starts with a good bedtime routine.
In this interview episode, resident sleep expert Dr. Mark Levi talks about how to set a good sleeping routine for your child to get them in their best self ever.
How to Get Your Child To Sleep
01:24 Get kids freaking exhausted
02:42 Pick a time for kids to sleep then stick to it
03:43 How much sleep does a child needs?
04:35 How to catch up when you break from sleeping routine
05:23 Sleep Tips for Parents #1 – Limit kids’ caffeine intake
06:23 Sleep Tips for Parents #2 – Limit screen time
08:20 Stress could be troubling your kids’ sleep
Ed: Well let’s face it. A school’s been back for a couple of weeks now so our bodies, our kid’s bodies should be settling back into a bit of a decent routine. That’s the hope anyway. In reality maybe getting good consistent sleep can be an ever present problem. While we’d all like a little bit more shut-eye we rarely have the time to make it a priority. So, that leads us to settle for perfect. You can get whatever we can scramble and just convince ourselves that whatever amount of sleep we’re having is enough. Let’s go to the expert though Dr. Mark Levi from Doctor Levi Sleep Clinic is on the line with some more tips and some help. Hello, Mark.
Dr. Levi: Ed, good afternoon. Good afternoon to all listening people to 2UE.
Ed: Routine is the key is it not?
Dr. Levi: The kids are back in school. They’re getting back into the groove. Hands up, hands up. This is the doctor lead by multiple choice test at 2 o’clock in the afternoon to keep you awake. Hands up all those listening that pick the kids up from school or hands up if you’re responsible for feeding and putting to bed or hands up if you’re responsible for any of the kids does it at the age of 18.
Ed: There’s a lot of hands up I can see through my magic window magic mirror Romper Room.
Dr. Levi: The deal with the kids, and I’ll tell you a joke in the set. But the deal with the kids is routine, routine, routine, routine. And the other deal with the kids is you want to get them freaking exhausted.
“The deal with kids is routine, routine, routine”
Dr. Levi: And if they’d gone back to school, they must be getting up earlier to go to school. And they were on holidays and they’ve gone to school, they should be coming home pretty exhausted.
And you want that. You want them tired and worn out. And then, as a parent or a grandparent or a carer or a responsible adult that’s amusing… You want to have a really solid routine for these kids. So, does that make any sense?
Ed: Oh, no absolutely. I think you’re quite right. We’re probably all guilty of shaving off an hour, you know at bedtime during the summer holidays when there’s no imminent early rising necessary the next day. But then how quickly should we settle back into a routine when we’re set to go. Now we’re going to go to bed at this time. Quick, adjust. Shall we look at it coming to fruition in a week or two?
Dr. Levi: Just pull out, just go berserk and make it happen now. You know they’re in school. They’re exhausted… Once you’ve got the child back at school they’ve got a schedule where they’re going to wake up. You pick a number where they’re going to go to bed. You’ve got to stick to it and you can’t use the weekend to catch up on the kid’s sleep. I don’t know that you can’t say oh well you know you can watch an extra hour of the TV tonight or you got it. It’s very hard to do. But, well nothing’s easy in the health and wellness but nothing comes easy. But you’ve got to have a really solid… you can’t say oh it’s another hour of TV that shows on like you can stand Number two hours. And then you catch on for the weekend because it doesn’t it doesn’t work like that. You want them in a really really really solid routine. And you know there are some other things that there are some other things that go round. But I thought I’d tell you some amusing stuff first. You want amusement value there or not?
Ed: Hit me up, doc.
Dr. Levi: So, here’s the question listeners. Ring in Ed and you can give me you know he’ll give you a voucher…. next Christmas party.
Ed: Don’t say that. Don’t say that. No, we do not have any vouchers.
Dr. Levi: How much sleep does a child need? And so, you know teens need about 10-hour sleep. They’re under the age of 10 years old.
Dr. Levi: So, can you calculate around and if they’re going to bed at eight o’clock at night you get up at 6:00 in the morning or if they get to bed at 9:00 o’clock at night they’ll be able to wake 7:00 AM and you want to be pretty stick to a routine. That’s really really really really the magic. But the joke, it’s not a joke really, but the humor is that as they get older they need a little bit less sleep. At 15 years of age, they might need eight or nine hours’ sleep. And then the real humor is that when they get to about 20 or 19 or 18 you know you’d be lucky to get them to go to sleep at all. And I don’t know if that is funny or not. That’s probably more a worry as an adult than anything else.
Ed: Those years are coming my way with me, my little ones approaching their first decade. Let me ask you this. If you do have one late night are you best to try and sleep in later or just get up at your normal time and then try for the original routine time that following night.
Dr. Levi: Either way A or B. I’m okay with it. I’m okay with A, B or C right. I’m actually okay with C which is catch up on the weekend. Well… the textbook ideal is to have a routine. In a magic world that’s ideal. If you’ve been out all night at a charity function or your kids have been up all night to the school dance, the school performing arts stands or something, then obviously you know they’re going to get a bit 11:00 at night after school function. You’re just going to go for A, B or C and do the best you can. But there are some, there are some things that parents can do. I mean you know the caffeine issue, you know the sodas, and the other caffeinated beverages, Ed. You want to, you want to try and limit them technically after lunchtime, Ed. After lunchtime, they should stop those and especially at night because if they’re getting stuck into those caffeinated beverages then… and there’s a lot of them in the market. I’m talking about the mothers and the things with lots of caffeine. Technically they’re going to disrupt your sleeping pattern and they’re going to disrupt when melatonin… Well, they’re going to disrupt the sleeping pattern and six hours… The textbook says really that at six hours before you get to sleep, all of us should stop caffeine, ideally.
“You want to try and limit [caffeine] technically after lunchtime”
Dr. Levi: But I’m sure you’ve got a listener there that know someone that has a black short at 10:00 o’clock at night after dinner.
Dr. Levi: Which is the rarity, not the rule. And the other thing with the parents is the screen time; the screen time at night is a bit of a problem because if they’re doing too much screen time, doesn’t matter what age they are you know under 20, then that’s going to well actually all of us, it’s going to affect the melatonin that’s secreted. And that’s, that’s sort of the drug inside you that says “Go to sleep.”
Dr. Levi: So, there’s a question about that too. Did you see did you ever see The Return, what was that movie, the Star Wars movie, The Return of the Jedi when it first started. Did you watch Star Wars?
Ed: I don’t think I’ve seen any of them all the way through and I think there are about 19 movies.
Dr. Levi: There’s one with the Jedi, and I’m not really in Star Wars. I don’t have anybody ring in and ask me, “Dr. Levi quick question about Star Wars. I don’t know.” But there’s one where they were all wearing these blue blackout glasses. It was really like you know, weird. And we all in the industry, we all laugh and go, “They’d be great. Blocked the blue, the blue light for the screens when the kids are watching at night because there is a there… Apple has got something out that will stop the blue light. But no question, caffeine’s one for the kids. And number two is screen time. It will decrease melatonin and decrease what time they’re going to sleep. It will upset the hormones.
Ed: The force is strong with you, Dr. Levi. Let me ask you this. I’ve got a friend complains just only in the last year or so, he hasn’t been able to sleep. He sort of suspects he’s an insomniac now. What could be contributing factors to this? Is there a lot of stress, and a lot of worry in his life? Can that kind of disrupt your natural secretions of melatonin and so on and shunt your kind of sleep patterns back?
Dr. Levi: Stress will do it. Stress will do a lot… We see kids at 20, Ed, that doesn’t sleep properly like 21-years-old that you know they just aren’t sleeping at all. Well no. They are troubled sleepers.
Dr. Levi: And you know, you know this is my serious voice. We take it really really seriously because there’s a percentage of those kids that have really got some sort of, you know, they’ve had, they’ve been messed with or they’ve they’ve got some psych, you know, they’ve got something going on that’s really serious.
Dr. Levi: There’s bothering them, that’s worrying them. It’s really keeping me awake with worry that they don’t even know they’re worried about it. And so, definitely, if you’ve got a 20-year-old or a 25-year-old not sleeping that’s a real worry and you want to head off to the GP and then have the GP send them off to someone like me or some sort of sleep specialist. If they’re an older person, Ed, then there’s always 101 reasons that you can be a poor earthly. But you do know that when we all get really really old like well in our senior years we need less sleep.
“If you’ve got a 20- or 25-year old not sleeping, that’s a real worry”
Dr. Levi: That’s a statement. Sorry I didn’t hope I didn’t offend anybody out there. In our senior year, we need less sleep. But in the middle years when you’re working your brains out and you’ve got three kids at home, you’ve got a mortgage, you’re running around, there’s a lot of things that can be, you know, if you’re putting on weight that might be the reason, there’s a lot of stress, weight, maybe. You know people turn up weight… I talked to Michelle Bridges at one stage and told her, I thought Michelle Bridges is the exercise.
Ed: Absolutely yeah. She’s on our show all the time. Yes.
Dr. Levi: Well, I did a gig for five seconds with your sister radio station.
Dr. Levi: If it’s all right to say them.
Ed: Of course, we love them.
Dr. Levi: And she’s lowered, Ed. She has lowered heart disease and diabetes almost and sleep apnea almost single-handedly, and I say that flippantly. But because the more people put on weight, the more weight you put on, the heavier you get. Then three things kick in. Sleep apnea is a big one. That means you stop breathing at night.
Dr. Levi: And that will that will ruin your sleep.
Ed: Dr. Levi, we got to wind things up. Give us the other two quickly. We’re under the pump for time.
Dr. Levi: Heart disease and diabetes.
Ed: All right. Good. Hey look, it sounds like we need more research. We can go as the first port of call to your fabulous website. Dr. Levi’s Sleep Clinic. localhost/drlevi We’ll put that link up on our website as well.
If you want your child to set a good sleeping routine, sleep expert Dr. Levi can help you with that. Contact us now!
Thank you for joining us in this episode.