Getting the bedroom ready for bedtime
Every bedtime routine is different, some kids have baths every night, some brush their teeth in the kitchen while some in the bathroom, some like to read a book on their own, some curled up with their mums or dads. Some run around burning off energy, while others, oh no, maybe they all do that.
But usually, the bedroom is the place where it all happens. The lights are on, or the curtains are open, and lights out is still some time away. What can they see while they are getting their pyjamas on? What is around them which might be preventing them from relaxing for bed? Are there pictures of Lightning McQueen on the wall? Or Toy Story curtains? Or a unicorn spread across the bed? All of these things are cute, and we like them as adults, and the kids like them, but the shapes and bright colours might just be the thing that is making it a bit difficult to get sleepy enough for bedtime. I know I like my bedroom to be a place of calm. My floordrobe must be out of sight, (still on the floor but out of sight…) and I don’t really want to see many colourful pictures or bright cushions lying around which make my brain go into overdrive. So what makes kids any different?
When Little L was even more Little, and I was obsessing about her bedroom and how it could help her develop, I was all over the stimulating high contrast colours that are proven to be so beneficial for babies' development. She had black and white mobiles, and toys, and things dangling over her head. But by the time kids get to around 18 months, their vision is pretty well developed, and high contrast colours and shapes for a toddler have a similar effect as it has on adults; they can be quite jarring on the eye, and the brain has trouble processing them.
This was around about the time I thought Little L could do with moving to a duvet, and maybe her room needed a bit of an update from nursery to child's room, especially as she would be spending a bit more time in there awake and not in our room. So could the colours in her room help her development and keep her calm, now her eyes were more sensitive to light and contrast? Well apparently yes they can, as proven in lots of research, which you can find out more about here. Hence the calming pale shades that the Minimello range consists of, while still featuring fun designs that kids really like.
And this is supported by the message from The Sleep Council, an advisory organisation that raises awareness of the importance of a good night's sleep. They say that there are 7 steps for getting a better night's sleep, and at the top of the list is the bedroom environment.
Here are a couple of tips from the Sleep Council which can apply to kids, teens and adults, but there are many more, read more about the other steps on The Sleep Council website - https://sleepcouncil.org.uk/seven-steps-to-a-better-nights-sleep/
It's worth thinking how these tips can be applied to all bedrooms, but especially kids who have trouble sleeping.
Avoid using certain colours when decorating. Remember that bright reds, yellows and oranges are jarring and stimulating, while browns, greys and whites are drab and under-stimulating. Instead, choose soft, cool, muted tones that increase feelings of calm and safety.
De-cluttering the room is great start. Clothes away, books back on the shelf. Tucking away anything that might be visible in the semi-darkness will create fewer distractions during the night.
Limit technology in the bedroom, help generate that much needed melatonin by removing artificial blue light generated by tablets, phones and television screens as much as possible, an hour before bedtime (I definitely struggle with this one!)
Putting meaningful pictures or photographs up on the walls will help create a soothing environment, especially for kids who are going through separation anxiety.
Check out the bedding sets and cushions from Minimello, which are all designed in line with these recommendations while still being fun for kids.The range can be combined with a neutral wall colour as an alternative to bright bedding available for kids, or you could go the whole hog and re-paint the room to a calming colour, but anything you do to minimise over-stimulation and create a calm space, as recommended by the professionals is sure to help kids relax before bedtime.
- Joanna Dunn