You’ve begged, bribed, shouted and maybe even cried, and your child still won’t go to sleep. All of your attempts have been futile – and night after night you’ve found that you’re at your wit's end. You wonder when the nightly battles will end, and if you and your child will ever get a good night’s sleep. Well, if you are tired of methods that don’t work (or you’re just plain tired), take a look at our eight helpful sleep tips that will get your child snoozing in no time.
Establish a Bedtime and Wake-up Time
Experts agree that it's important for your child to get between nine and twelve hours of rest per night. Setting a regular bedtime and wake-up time (and sticking to it!) will ensure that your child gets the best sleep possible and wakes up feeling refreshed. You'll know if your chosen bedtime and wake-up time are suitable for your child if he or she nods off within fifteen to thirty minutes of lying down on their mattress. A well-rested child will also easily awaken and maintain alertness and pep throughout the day. Sounds fantastic, right?
Provide a Snack
There's a reason mom used to give you a glass of warm milk before bed: because it works! Active, busy kids burn a lot of calories and three meals per day may not be enough food for your energizer bunny. Providing your child with a small, healthy snack before bedtime can keep them satiated and induce slumber. You should avoid heavy snacks as a full stomach can disrupt shut-eye. Instead, opt for light foods such as a glass of milk, fruit or crackers.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Despite appearances, children thrive on structure and routine. And you'll love how easily they fall asleep once you establish a consistent bedtime routine. Your child's bedtime routine can include putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading his or her favorite book--activities that your child will eventually associate with bedtime. Just remember to keep your routine no longer than thirty minutes, and insist that they end the activity once it's time to go to bed.
Keep the Bedroom and Clothing Cool
We all know kids need to be comfy to get to sleep. If your child's bedroom is too hot or too cold, it could prevent your child from getting adequate rest. You should check your thermostat to make sure that his or her bedroom is cool, since cooler temperatures can induce deep sleep for kids. It's also important to avoid dressing your child in thick or restrictive pajamas that can trap excess body heat.
Keep the Bedroom Dark and Quiet
Keeping your child's bedroom dark may seem like a no-brainer. But think about it. How many times have you flicked on the hallway light while your kid was trying to rest? Many times, probably. And you've probably talked loudly on the phone too. (We're not judging.) If you want your child to get the best sleep possible, you have to make sure that his or her bedroom is dark and quiet. You can plug in a night light if your child doesn't feel comfortable in complete darkness.
Turn Off the TV
Did you know that light from your television screen can disrupt your child's melatonin production? That's right. Melatonin is an important hormone and is responsible for regulating sleep cycles. High melatonin levels can cause your child to be sleepy. But low melatonin levels caused by watching TV close to bedtime can actually cause sleeplessness, rather than the intended “wind-down” time. It is best to turn off the TV at least three hours before your child's bedtime to make sure they'll get adequate rest.
Help Your Child Feel Safe and Secure
Being separated from parents any time, and especially at bedtime, can cause anxiety in some children. They may worry about their safety while you're away. Kids with active imaginations may believe there are monsters in their closets and boogeymen under their beds. You should acknowledge their fears and then address them by offering reassurance that you will be close by and nothing will harm them. Placing their favorite teddy bear, blanket or doll next to them in bed can provide a comforting presence and help your child adjust to sleeping alone.
Make Sure Your Child Has a Comfortable Mattress
A great sleep environment begins with your child’s bed. A mattress that is lumpy, hard or sagging can prevent your child from getting adequate rest. Your child may toss and turn all night simply because they are not sleeping on the best mattress for their body. Just like adults, children need support from their mattress – and you can find the right mattress from a reputable mattress company; one that understands the importance of sleep for kids. A great mattress can make all the difference for a wonderful, rested night of sleep.
We hope our eight sleep tips have given you ideas on how to get your child to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Remember: Every child is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to bedtime. Just be patient and work on building a routine that works for you and your child. And once your child begins sleeping well, you can focus on getting great sleep yourself. Win win!