Are you a parent that resorts to TV and sweets for tireless tantrum-throwing tots to go to bed and sleep? According to a recent survey that is exactly what parents are doing?

Simply forget story time, sleep-deprived British parents are taking unconventional steps to get their children into bed, including allowing their children to stay up and watch TV until they fall asleep and bribing them into bed with the promise of presents and even allowing them sweets at bedtime.

Are you SHOCKED?

Bedtime can lead to weekly tantrums from one in five children aged between three and six, with one in six parents having fallen asleep in their child’s room whilst trying to get them down.

A study conducted by Dream Lites, the cuddly bedtime toys, reveals a story and slumber time snack is the perfect antidote for those struggling to lull their children off to sleep, with over a third of youngsters wanting one more story told to them before lights out (35%) and a little something to combat their hunger or thirst pangs (34%). Sadly, almost one in 10 (9%) parents nationally and 14 per cent in London report being too busy for bedtime rituals such as storytelling.

The average child aged between three and six goes to sleep at 7.22pm and awakes at 6.46am, having woken three times in the night, disturbing their parent’s sleep. Mums suffer most with half regularly getting up to soothe their infant back to sleep, compared to under a quarter of dads. All this night time toing and froing means a quarter of parents are unable to recall the last time they enjoyed a good night’s rest.

Parent’s fatigue spells bad news for employers too, as almost one in 20 parents admit to having fallen asleep at work following a sleepless night with their child. The new research, which surveyed over 1,500 parents of kids aged three to six, also found that energy drinks and coffee are vital for helping one in seven working parents through a day in the office.

Top 10 excuses children give for not wanting to go to bed Top 10 techniques used by parents to get their children to sleep
Claim not to be tired Allow them to sleep in parent’s bed
Want one more story told to them Allow them to stay up and watch TV until they fall asleep
Claim to be hungry/thirsty Pretend to fall asleep in their room with them
Want to stay up to watch their favourite TV show Actually fall asleep in their room with them
Scared of the dark Allow them to play with an iPad/games console in bed until they fall asleep
Wants to play on iPad/tablet Promise to buy them a present
Doesn’t want to miss out on the fun Drive them around in the car
Sibling is not going to bed yet Gave them sweets
Wants to play on their games console Tell them they won’t get any Christmas/birthday presents if they don’t go to bed
Scared that their cuddly toys will come to life after they go to sleep Tell them a white lie

Whilst it is clear parents are adopting more unusual techniques to get their children off to bed, youngsters are equally inventive with their excuses for staying up, including being scared of the dark.

Parents can easily find themselves resorting to TV or bribery to get their children off to bed at the end of a busy, tiring day. Though such techniques appear to work in the short term, they may have the opposite effect in the long term. Children who rely on props at bedtime are more vulnerable to waking later in the night – as the child comes into light sleep phases, which we all do throughout the night, they are likely to seek such props to help them get back to sleep again.

However hard and boring a bedtime routine for kids may seem after a long day, it is vital to enable everyone in the family to have a good night’s sleep. Just setting aside 30 minutes at the end of the day with a simple, quiet, relaxing bath, a calm story and kiss goodnight is well worth the effort.

Mandy Gurney, sleep expert and founder of Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic

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