How being outside and outdoor play can improve children’s sleep.
Just had a baby? One of the questions all new mothers get asked is ‘how are they sleeping?’ There are many exhausted parents out there all looking for tips and tricks to help their baby sleep. There’s a big industry of sleep books, articles and sleep coaches helping families to achieve this.
But newborns wake, that’s just what they do. With small stomachs newborns need frequent feeds, so of course they are going to wake more often. Over time babies can sleep for longer periods and giving them time outdoors helps this.
As you all know I love to be outdoors with my wee adventurers. Since they were babies I have always taken them outside for walks whether rain or shine. Not only for my own health and well being but it also has many benefits for theirs.
I have been working with a sleep consultant @ https://instagram.com/devon_dreams_sleep?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= since my youngest was born. Not only helping with sleep patterns and routines I have had guidance and support when needed. Something that she has drilled into me is that spending time outdoors helps children sleep better. From her experience the more fresh air and daylight babies get the better they seem to sleep at night.
Being out in the sunshine promotes the essential Vitamin D, which is great for the immune system. Vitamin D improves sleep quality because it helps to regulate the human body’s internal sleep clock. Being outside also releases soothing endorphins into the bloodstream which helps the production of melatonin. We need this as melatonin is the hormone in the body that helps you sleep!
A study at Liverpool John Moores University led by Dr Yvonne Harrison, found that babies sleep longer when they are exposed to plenty of natural light in the afternoon. They found that the light is what helps babies to establish their circadian rhythms. This helps to set up your body clock and therefore creating better sleep patterns. This doesn't just work for babies, the same applies to children and adults. Being outdoors promotes a good nights sleep for us all.
Too much screen time?
In today’s world we are spending more time sitting inside rather than being outside. A lot of us prefer to sit on the sofa watching tv and using a screen or device. These circadian rhythms that control our sleep-wake cycle rely on natural light for the release of melatonin, however the bright blue light from screens are interfering with the release of these sleep-inducing hormones. So by being out in nature, doing outdoor activities really helps the brain to switch off and cutting back on screen time can really aid better sleep.
Being outside encourages exercise. Whether you’re walking, running, splashing in a puddle or riding a bike. The physical exertion will help to tire you and wear out the body for better sleep. Whilst the time spent outside keeps the brain on track for a regular sleep-wake cycle as exercise releases chemicals into the brain that promote natural sleep.
So get outside into the natural light! It has so many health and sleep benefits. Outdoor time ensures a good nights sleep for us all and as we know there is nothing worse than an overtired child.