Written by Allen Brown.
Children need a regular sleeping schedule to help them develop their cognitive and physical abilities normally. Researches have shown that kids need to sleep between 9 and 11 hours each night, and each child can need different rituals before going to bed to make the process easier. Parents need to encourage sleeping routines from an early age to ensure that they can get enough rest during the night and wake up on time, especially if they need to go to school. Otherwise, sleep-deprived kids can suffer several consequences in their development that will affect their mood, behavior, and weight once they become adults. In no particular order, here are some tips on how to help children have better sleeping habits while they are young.
Turn Off Screens Before Bedtime
Our circadian rhythm determines when we wake up and feel sleepy, and it’s regulated by a hormone called melatonin. When we are exposed to blue lights from our phones or television during the evening, it intrudes with the melatonin’s function, and we stay awake for longer. Children should fall asleep about 15 minutes after going to bed, but if we expose them to videogames or other screen lights before bedtime, they will have a harder time doing so. Offering them a bedtime story, talking about their activities of that day, or doing other relaxing activities before sleeping will help them calm down and help them settle in their beds for resting.
Create A Comfortable Environment For Them
Kids need a calm and safe space to ease their minds and get some rest. Parents need to ensure that their children’s bedroom is the perfect spot for them to lay down and sleep almost immediately. No electronics, dim lights, and a quiet environment will go a long way into encouraging good sleeping hygiene. The mattress and bedsheet you choose for them may also play a massive role in whether kids will fall asleep quickly, as the experts at Sleep So Tight point out. If they feel too warm or too cold when trying to sleep, children will have a harder time falling asleep, and their mood and energy will suffer the following day because of this.
Create And Respect Their Sleeping Routine
If there’s something that all people need throughout their childhood are predictable routines that help them feel secure in their home. Going to sleep and waking up at the same hour every day guarantees a full night’s rest if scheduled properly, especially during school days. Sticking to a fixed sleeping routine even during vacations will yield positive results in the long run, especially if all the family is involved in taking care of the child. As they get older, it’s tempting to allow them to stay up until late during weekends, but teenagers still need to get at least 9 hours of sleep. Therefore, respecting their sleeping routine from a young age will help associate relaxing and falling asleep in their bed at a certain hour, with minor changes to adapt to their needs as they grow up.
Keep An Eye Out For Restless Nights
Sometimes our children get scared or afraid before falling asleep, and parents need to address these issues in an age-appropriate way to help them ease their minds. But if kids start having troubles while sleeping, it’s important to identify and address the cause behind it. Nightmares are a common occurrence in people of all ages, and you can incentivize your kid to talk about what they remember the morning after to reassure them that they are not endangered during these scenarios. But if they start showing signs of night terrors or sleepwalking, they need to get evaluated by a pediatrician or a sleep specialist.
Setting healthy sleeping habits from an early age is crucial to help children have enough energy for their daily activities. Good sleep hygiene will also decrease the chances of developing behavior issues and obesity down the line, and they’re less likely to have cognitive issues as well.
Parents are responsible for reinforcing and encouraging their kids to properly rest when necessary and need to be present for them if they start showing any sign of stress or fear. Nights can be challenging for some and it’s okay to fail if your child doesn’t want to sleep or feels irritable. The important thing is to be patient and remain calm while dealing with your kid, and always focus on relaxation techniques to help them cope with their anxieties and progress together into having better sleeping habits.