Many years ago on my parenting journey, my young daughter went through a stage where she just wouldn’t go to sleep at night.  I thought getting children to sleep would be a snap but it didn’t matter how tired she was, if she had rested or slept during the day or how calming or quiet her evening routine was.  She was sleep-evasive.

 

I tried everything – earlier dinner times, changing the routine around, leaving on a night-light, singing her to sleep – even sitting in her room with her until she went to sleep (this could take two hours!)

 

And nothing really worked.  It was so frustrating and TIME consuming and drove me mad really.

 

At the end of a day with children, all I want to do is to be able to have some quiet, adult time.  You too?  Parenting is hard enough work without it dragging on for hours at the end of a day.  This is when it is really hard to remain calm and centred and patient.  I needed a solution- fast.

 

A friend suggested dimming the lights (or turning off the main ones and lighting a few lamps instead) in the house once dinner was finished, and giving her a bath in a candle-lit room every single night.  You know what? It worked.

 

As my upcoming book says, a cosy light-reduced atmosphere allows the child to switch into relax mode and become sleepy. Our goal is to increase serotonin release, the hormone in the body that induces sleep. Bright lights (such as the ones we turn on in our living room and hall globes after dusk) inhibit this process.

 

It’s a little different for newborn sleeping patterns of course. But we can help them to come into our rhythms a little sooner too, by simply making sure they too have indirect ‘exposure’ to the dawning and setting of the natural light from the sun. (You might, for example, leave the curtains open during the day during their midday sleeps rather than darkening the room)

 

Dimming or reducing the amount of bright light we are exposed to as the evening wears on can help us all (children, and adults too) to fall asleep so much more easily.  I’d like that. Would you?

 

Extra Tip for parents:  Be ‘light’ aware for yourself as well. Have you noticed that it can be really difficult to fall asleep after a long night of catch-up work on the computer?   This backlit electric light is just as big a culprit. Turn off the computer at least an hour before you need to sleep and read a good book instead. I guarantee you’ll be asleep before you know it.

 

This post was written by Amber Greene … a Writer and Parenting Educator whose motto in life is to ‘Fire up your Creative Spark!”  She helps women and children around the globe to unveil their creative powers. Amber provides creative strategies for parenting and supports parents to increase their confidence and find more joy and fun in the busy daily slog. Visit her at www.mamamoontime.com for a daily dose of creative inspiration, and free art and crafty activities for both mama and child.


  • Apart from as newborns, teething and illness I didn’t have issues with my kids not sleeping. I do see a bit of it around now and feel so sorry for the mums

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  • Thanks for the advice and tips.

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  • Yes, I agree with this whole heartedly. We use lamps at night after dinner, and definitely no computer or mobile phones at night time. This has helped a lot with Mr 11’s sleep pattern.

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  • Thanks for sharing this interesting article.

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  • Making my son last without a nap helped

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  • I think this is why we always struggle to get the kids to sleep more during daylight savings and the summer months when the days are longer. Regardless of when they woke up in the morning, they don’t feel it’s time to sleep until it’s pitch black outside!

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  • Excellent advice. Will be dimming the lights tonight!

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  • I am going to be sure to try this starting tonight. I have a 20 month old that is exactly as you have described and its very tiring trying to get him to sleep when I myself am tired. My eldest son who is almost 4yrs old is the opposite of my youngest and goes to bed without a fuss. Hopefully your tips work and I have my 20 month old going to bed without a fuss soon aswell.

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  • Thank you for this read!!

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  • My youngest has just gone through this. Thank god it only lasted 3 weeks and he grew out of it or got over it.

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  • After dinner we wind down with quiet time. No tv, reading or drawing, etc

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  • my daughter it’s hard to sleep at night she had so many energy , thank you for this article it helps me

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  • thank you sharing this article good read

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  • This is food for thought,

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  • Thanks for sharing a great idea, having this probably with my daughter at the moment nothing seems to be working might give the candle lit bath a whirl.

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