Feel like the only person awake at 2 am, 4 am and then again at 5 am with a scratchy, unhappy child? You’re not alone – there are thousands of others going through exactly the same exhausting patterns night after night. We wanted to point you to this BRILLIANT webinar from the National Eczema Association where sleep expert Lisa Meltzer, PhD explains the impact eczema has on our sleep cycles, and what we can do to help get better rest. Full of useful information and reassurance that you’re NOT going mad, it’s NOT just you and there ARE things you can do!!
The need for sleep
In our experience, putting children to bed and getting them to stay there can be challenging. Even young children without eczema will wake up regularly in the night. But the itching and discomfort caused by eczema can increase these sleepless nights by making it more difficult for children to fall asleep, and even waking them up in the night – scratching.
We understand the struggles of trying everything to help your itching kids fall asleep when their eczema flares up, and we empathise with how their broken nights impact your sleep patterns, general health, and productivity. While it is important that at the time of a flare-up, you do everything you can to soothe your itchy baby, implementing positive sleeping habits during calmer periods is really helpful for better sleep overall and less night time disruption when their eczema does get bad.
So let’s get to it!
Our top tips for a better night’s sleep
- Regular bedtime routine. Start your kids’ bedtime routine at the same time every evening and try to stick to this throughout the weekdays and weekends so that your child becomes used to a regular sleeping schedule. Check out our blog post about building a fun bedtime routine for itchy little ones.
- Avoid bright lights before bed. If your children need a nightlight to sleep, we suggest a dim, warm light, as using visual cues like a dark room can convince our bodies that it is time to sleep.
- Bedtime TV (yes, really!) Lots of people will recommend that you avoid tv for two hours before bed. However, as parents ourselves, we would have lost the plot completely without the calming routine of In The Night Garden (good luck ever getting the theme tune out of your head though!) This (and other bedtime kids shows) are designed specifically to calm their busy little minds and the repetitive (oh so repetitive!) songs and rituals really do help little ones get into “sleepy mode”. Sneaky tip for those of you who can’t face 45 minutes of Iggle Piggle and the gang – distract your little one ten minutes or so in and fast forward to the last five minutes!! This kept me from Ninky Nonk induced insanity!!
- Bedtime stories. Bedtime is magical for little ones – they have you ALL TO THEMSELVES – no washing up to do or baskets of ironing. It’s a great chance for a soothing cuddle and your voice is one of their favourite sounds so what’s not to love? When your little ones get a bit older it’s a great time to talk about the day and anything that may be bothering them. We wrote a post about the best children’s books that address the realities of living with eczema in a sweet and informative way – definitely worth checking out if they are feeling upset and frustrated with their itchy baby skin.
- Choose soothing linens. Fabrics which increase body temperature while you sleep can cause itching in the night. Try switching out your children’s bedding with duvets, blankets or quilts made from materials that are either 100% cotton or bamboo and wash them frequently. The lightweight, breathable fabric will keep skin cool throughout the night, and frequent washes can stop the build-up of dust mites or skin cells, which could cause your youngsters to itch. Read our blog for more on making your child’s bedroom eczema friendly.
- Introduce warm baths. Our body temperate begins to fall as we approach bedtime. Giving your little one a warm bath as part of their bedtime routine could help to make them sleepy and relaxed – reducing the stress they feel before bed, so they get a quality night’s sleep. Baths can also be great for hydrating very dry skin, reducing the tendency to itch before bed. Check out our blog post all about baths to soothe sore skin.
- Laughter. We love this one! According to the National Eczema Association, laughter in the evenings can increase melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that is released by the brain at the onset of sleep; encouraging play and laughter with your children as you approach bedtime could help to make them tired. Laughter is also a proven stress-reliever, so this could help with easing eczema flare-ups and sleep disruptions. So if, like us, your other halves are included to “wind the kids up” being silly at bedtime perhaps it’s not a bad thing after all!!!
- New routines from a hospital stay. If your child has to stay in hospital at any point due to their eczema, you may be able to take the opportunity to begin a better sleep routine. Your baby’s skin should be back under control following a hospital stay, and you will have experienced a break-in home routine. Try speaking to the nurses about implementing regular mealtimes and bedtime routines during the hospital stay and continue these practices when you return home. This could be invaluable for reducing stress and helping your child have a good quality night’s sleep.
- Sleepwear. Choosing your baby’s pyjamas can have a big impact on how well they sleep. Like bed linens, airy and breathable fabrics are most likely to prevent itching. Our ScratchSleeves pyjamas are designed for children with eczema – made with cool, loose-fitting 100% cotton – check them out here!
We’d love to hear tricks that work for you when your children get stressed, sleepless, and itchy – let us know in the comments below!! Sweet dreams!!