As a parent, getting a good night’s sleep may always be an ongoing concern. But what can you do if you are concerned about the quality of your child’s sleep?
Good sleep isn’t just important for adults, it’s as or maybe even more important for children of all ages when you take into account the impact that poor sleep can have on their mental and physical well-being. Children who aren’t experiencing regular, restorative sleep can experience attention issues, behavioral problems, fall asleep at school, decline to engage in play, learn new concepts more slowly and some studies show that it can even impact their health later on in life.
So if you are concerned about your child’s sleep, what are some things you can do to help get a better night’s sleep and wake up rested and ready to learn, play and grow?
It’s all about consistency and healthy routines, both during the day and at night, to help your child fall asleep and stay asleep.
Create a Routine
Pick a time, and stick to it. Routines are very important to children, and when they know what to expect every night, both you and your child will experience less stress and anxiety prior to bed. Try not to deviate too much from their regular sleep/wake schedule, even during the weekends or on vacations, and pick a routine that can be duplicated no matter where you are.
Be Sure to Relax
Kids need time to wind down prior to bed, and that’s where this step comes alongside the first tip. A warm bath, reading a book, or sitting quietly before bed will help them switch gears and fall asleep, as a part of their regular bedtime routine as close to every night a possible. A child’s relaxation routine can help give their minds and bodies the cue that it’s time to settle down and nod off to sleep, and prevent bedtime arguments and stress.
Limit Screen Time
Prior to and when they lay down to sleep at night, it’s important to shield your child from TV, cellphone, and tablet screens, as well as other bright lights at least an hour prior to bedtime. The blue light coming from screens can suppress melatonin, and disrupt their (and your!) ability to fall asleep. Also, try not to expose children to stimulating or scary movies or shows at least a few hours prior to bedtime, and make sure to check in closets and under beds to ensure that your child feels safe in the room where they sleep.
Watch Eating and Drinking
Eating too early or too late in the evening can impact your child’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. Being hungry or feeling too full can make your child uncomfortable, and can also have a negative impact on their mood (and attitude) about going to bed. Also, remember that caffeine is present in chocolate, teas, and many sodas and will make it difficult for your child to settle down and relax during their bedtime routine.
If you as a parent have the ability to make these easy changes that can help your child sleep better at night, it’s a great feeling. But for children who don’t have access to the same security, a good night’s sleep is never a guarantee.
Would you like to learn more about how your family can help a child get a better night’s sleep? We believe that every child deserves a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads at night, and our organization of volunteers is growing. Learn more about our local chapters and how you can get involved with helping to ensure that no child goes without a good night’s sleep in your town.