We all know how important getting a good night’s rest is. It allows us to feel our best and be fully present during the day. For children, it’s even more important to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. From cognitive development to mood regulation, sleep has a huge influence on almost all aspects of their physical and emotional health. In fact, children who don’t get enough sleep are more prone to hyperactivity and emotional dysregulation. If you’ve recently begun fostering, you may be wondering how best to encourage good sleeping behaviour and practices for your foster child. Similarly, as a foster child adjusts to a new foster home it’s important to establish some good practices that will help them feel secure and rest more easily. Here we look at some common sleep problems and how to fix them. 

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.

Common Foster Child Sleep Problems and Solutions

  1. Improve their Sleep Hygiene 

Sleep hygiene is a relatively new term but it’s something we’re all familiar with. Still, sometimes it’s easy to overlook the simple things that contribute to getting a good night’s rest. Eating habits are a big factor in sleeping behaviours. For instance, try not to let your foster child eat large meals too close to bedtime and avoid giving them any caffeinated drinks too late in the day (this includes sodas and fizzy drinks). Exercise also plays a big part in getting adequate rest. Make sure your foster child gets a good amount of physical exercise during the day so that they’re tired when it comes to lights out. 

  1. Set a Routine

Having a set routine can be comforting for a foster child, especially if they’re having difficulty sleeping. Set a strict bedtime and make sure to stick to a routine that includes things like brushing their teeth, combing their hair, and reading them a bedtime story. The brain’s capacity to fall into routines is well documented, and soon it will be like second nature for your foster child to drift asleep once a reassuring routine has been established.

  1. Make sure they have a good sleep environment

Location, location, location! A foster child’s bedroom is an important space for many reasons but it’s also crucial for sleep. Disturbing noises can often lead to irregular sleep so make sure the rest of the house is quiet after the child’s bedtime which means avoiding having the TV on too loud or playing disturbing music. Sometimes a white noise machine can be helpful in providing a comforting background noise and blocking out noises that are unavoidable (such as traffic or street noise). Similarly, the amount of light in the room can have an impact on sleeping behaviour. Some children can’t sleep with any light in the room while some children find a little bit of light comforting especially if they wake up during the middle of the night. If that’s the case, a night light can be a great solution. 

Temperature is another factor that plays into a child’s sleep. We all know the discomfort of being too hot or too cold when trying to drift off! Studies suggest that the ideal room temperature for a good night’s sleep is approximately 18 °C. Ensure that your foster child has extra blankets if they find they get cold during the night or a hot water bottle to warm up the bed. 

  1. Relax before Bed

Winding down before going to bed is an essential factor in getting to sleep quickly and peacefully. This can include anything from a bedtime story to a bubble bath. However, it’s a good idea not to have too many exciting activities – like pillow fights – too close to bedtime as this may make the brain more engaged and less likely to nod off. Similarly try not to let your foster child do strenuous exercise too close to bedtime. Relaxation also has to do with associations with a particular environment. For this reason, it’s better to encourage your foster child to get up if they’re struggling to sleep. That way, the brain won’t associate the bed with restlessness. Similarly, it’s a good idea to keep time-outs for somewhere other than the bedroom so that it doesn’t become associated with stress and punishments. 

  1. Make sure their basic needs are met

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can have the most profound impact. Has your foster child had enough to eat? Do they need a glass of water in case they get thirsty during the night? Are they spending too much time before bed on a phone or tablet? It’s easy to overlook some of the basic things but these factors all contribute to promoting healthy sleep. 

Foster Children Sleeping Arrangements

Can a foster child sleep in my room?

Generally, no. If you are going to foster a child, you will need to have a spare room in your home. One of the main criteria for becoming a foster carer is being able to provide a safe, nurturing, and comfortable environment for your foster child. This means not only ensuring a happy home, but also giving your child their own space. However, if you are fostering a baby, they may sleep in your room with you – but you will still need a separate room (they grow up fast!). Foster siblings under five can share and sleep in the same room. Siblings over five can also share a room, provided they are of the same gender as their roommate.

Can my foster child attend sleepovers?

For most children, a sleepover is an exciting experience, but if a child is in the care of the state a few arrangements will need to be made in advance. For example, it’s important that the foster carers know the family/parents of the child where the sleepover is occurring, so as to ensure that the child in care is in a safe and familiar environment. It would also be important that a sleepover is arranged in advance so there is time to seek permission from the child’s social worker and/or parents to ensure that everyone is agreeable and knows the whereabouts of the child in care. Similarly, a foster carer should keep in mind that a child in care may have moved placement and a sleepover could potentially be a reminder of this scary experience. When thinking about letting a child go on a sleepover a carer may need to have a few supportive conversations to put to rest any worries the child may have.

If you’re interested in foster care, please reach out to Orchard Fostering today. We’re available on the phone or via email – you can also fill out a form directly on our contact page.