Sleep scientist shares her top tips for getting your child to sleep without the battle

Ah, bedtime. Where battle lines are drawn and cute, cuddly children shapeshift into screaming banshees. 

Laying down the law when it comes to lights out can be a challenge for many parents and caregivers, particularly when attempting to reinstate a sense of routine after the school holidays. Even the start of a new week can prove problematic, with some families letting bedtime slide when it's not a school night. However, getting back into day-to-day routine doesn't always go to plan, with tears, tantrums and a tequila nightcap (for the adult) often on the agenda.

If your little one is putting up a big fight when it comes to night-night, Theresa Schnorbach - a Frankfurt-based sleep scientist behind the leading direct-to-consumer sleep brand, Emma The Sleep Company - might be able to help. 

According to Schnorbach, re-establishing a sleep schedule doesn't need to lie in bribery or tough love, but can be achieved through simple steps to put the battle to bed. 

So send in the troops: Schnorbach gave Newshub her six top tips to getting bedtime back on track.

Soak up natural light

"Getting kids outdoors can be the key to a good night's rest, with light and temperature together being the most important external factors affecting sleep," Schnorbach said. 

"Ensuring your little ones are exposed to enough natural light each day will keep the rhythms of their body clock in sync with their environment, and make hitting the hay each night just that little bit less of a mission."

Get outside in the morning

While getting the brood out the door can be chaotic enough, Schnorbach suggests letting your little ones spend five to 10 minutes outside and soaking up the morning sun - if you can wrangle it. 

"Natural light absorbed in the morning helps boost the production process of nocturnal melatonin, putting you in a condition of calm wakefulness that promotes sleep at night," she explained.

"It also boosts the production of cortisol to make you and your little ones feel refreshed and ready for the day."

Embrace the cold

According to Schnorbach, cold air can actually have a positive effect on sleep patterns and has been linked to better quality shut-eye in insomnia patients. 

"Besides the positive influence of low temperatures on sleep patterns, they've also been linked to [making] children feel more energised, improved immune functions, and improved problem-solving and cognitive skills - a real win-win," Schnorbach added.

Reset the nighttime wind-down

To ditch the bedtime battles, Schnorbach suggests taking measures to create a soothing environment ahead of lights out to promote calm and sleepiness. 

"Most children wake up at roughly the same time each day, regardless of what time they went to sleep, and seem to 'break' around the same time each evening too - meaning half the battle can be getting the wind-down started before it's too late," she explained.

"Pay attention to the time your kids start to get a bit antsy and allocate time for a quiet wind-down just before; this is where you practice good sleep hygiene."

Creating a restful environment may include removing or switching off screens such as phones, tablets and televisions, playing some soothing music, running them a hot bath or reading a book together. Making winding down a ritual can also establish a sense of routine that indicates bedtime is just around the corner. 

Create a space they love

"Okay, this one verges on bribery, but giving your child a sense of decision-making when it comes to their sleeping space can go a long way to getting them settled," Schnorbach said. 

"A new pillow or fancy accessory can make bedtime all the more exciting."

She also suggests shifting the existing furniture around for a simple makeover that can make the space feel shiny and new, which may make the child excited to spend more time there.

Stick to the plan

"The best sleep advice for all ages is to stick to a sleep schedule 365 days a year - going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. If you can help it, try not to deviate hugely from the schedule so there's not too much ground to claim back when the fun is over," Schnorbach said.

"If you have made major changes over the holidays, don't expect to be back to normal overnight - like any change it takes time to adjust so patience is the key, and allow yourself space to ensure you have the capacity to deal with the process too."