10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Sleep
Before we start, the first thing you should be aware of is you are a role model for your kids. Therefore, if you stay late and don’t get enough sleep, don’t expect them to do so. They look up to you! So the first change you have to make is to get more sleep for yourself and the whole house. This is the first step toward making sure your kid doesn’t have troubles falling asleep or keeping you awake with them. Counting Sheep Sleep Research guide has prepared for you 10 scientifically researched tips to get your children to sleep.
Children need more sleep than adults do. For example, school-age children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep per night. However, it is completely normal if a child sleeps a bit less or more. There is a lot of variability in sleep needs and patterns. If you have observed a specific pattern in your kid, that pattern probably won’t change much no matter what you do. So, an early riser will get up early even if you put them late to bed, and a night owl won’t fall asleep until they are ready. You have to accept the fact that this is just how their circadian rhythm functions and it will probably stay that way their entire lives. You will have to adjust around this and set an appropriate bedtime that will ensure your kids get enough sleep to wake up refreshed in the morning.
As it is important to set an individualized bedtime, it is also vital to set up individualized wake-up time. If you know how much your children need to sleep and what time they go to bed, you can easily calculate and set daily wake-up time. You should stick to their wake-up time every day, even on weekends and holidays. Although it’s generous to let your child sleep a bit longer on the weekends or holidays, it can mess up with their circadian rhythm and set you up for a long, sleepless night. Why? Because those extra hours will have the same effect on your kid as jet-lag, making it rather hard for their body to feel tired at bedtime.
Create a Bedtime Routine
A regular bedtime routine is especially important to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The routine should be very simple and include 2 or 3 things that over time, the child will associate with sleep. Doing specific things before bed, at the exact same order each night, such as bathing them or reading a story is a signal to your child what’s coming next. Knowing that is comforting and relaxing and sets the perfect atmosphere for sleep. When your kid gets used to its routine, they will become sleepy as soon as you start with it.
No TV at least 2 Hours Before Bed
You have probably heard before that TV can disturb your kids’ sleep, but you might not know why. Studies actually show that blue light emitted by electronics such as television screen, computer monitor and phone interfere with the production of the neurotransmitter melatonin. Melatonin is vital for regulating our sleep-wake cycles. When its levels are high, you feel sleepy and ready for bed, and when its levels are low, you will feel alert. Being exposed to blue light only half an hour before bed can disrupt sleep and keep you (or your child) awake for 2 extra hours.
Reduce Stress before Bedtime
When you are tense and stressed, your body produces a stress hormone known as cortisol. If your child’s cortisol levels are high, their body won’t be able to unwind and go to sleep. That is why you should implement in your bedtime routine activities that are calm and relaxing.
Create an Environment Perfect for Sleeping
An ideal sleeping environment is dark, quiet and reasonably cool. The mattress your child sleeps on should be very comfortable, but at the same time provide quality support. The sheets should be soft and warm. The room must be dark and quiet because it helps your child differentiate between day and night, which makes it significantly easier to fall asleep.
Keep it Cool
As mentioned above, it is very important to ensure your kid’s bedroom stays reasonably cool. Why? Because your child’s circadian rhythm is not only dependent on light, but it’s also sensitive to temperature. Melatonin takes care of regulating the internal body temperature needed to sleep, but you have to take care of the external temperature.
Provide Fear Protection
If you children have bedtime fears, don’t deny them but address them. Often when reassurance doesn’t work, getting a special toy to guard the room or spraying the room with “monster spray” will be sufficient to make them feel safe.
Reduce the Focus on Sleep
Just like adults, children sometimes have troubles mentally preparing for sleep. Instead of increasing their anxiety and tension by insisting it’s time to go to bed, focus more on relaxation and calming your child’s mind down.
Be on the Lookout for Sleep Disorders
If despite your best efforts your kid still has troubles falling asleep, they may suffer from a genuine sleep disorder. Don’t hesitate to talk with their pediatrician about any concerns you might have.