Getting kids to go to sleep is difficult. But getting a good night’s sleep is imperative to making sure they are their best selves and setting them up for success. The same policy applies to you and your sleep, which is even harder to get when your kids need you.
You should be on the lookout for some of the signs that your child isn’t getting enough sleep. These include obvious ones, like falling asleep at inappropriate times and the inability to get your child out of bed quickly. They might also include some different behaviors, like having a talkative child be unusually shy or taciturn, having academic struggles, or falling asleep during very short car rides. Not all of these apply–your teenager, for instance, is unlikely to fall asleep on a drive to the store, but they might be irritable and even hyperactive simply due to not getting enough sleep.
Here are three ways that you can help your children get a better night’s sleep, and help yourself to do the same.
1) Schedule Meals Early
Depending on the age of your child, this may not apply. Infants and toddlers are fairly well known for falling asleep while nursing or eating. However, the older your child gets, the harder it’s going to be for their bodies to digest food while they’re sleeping, the same way it is for you as an adult.
Try and schedule your meals for 3 to 4 hours before your child’s planned bedtime in order to make their life easier. If you have older children, make sure they aren’t eating anything after dinner time.
2) Create a Bedtime Routine for the Whole Family
Creating a bedtime routine is actually one of the best things you can do for yourself and the rest of your family. It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the less complicated it is, the better it’s going to be in the long because you’ll be able to keep up with it even when you are traveling or your kids are at sleepovers.
Whenever possible, you should personalize the routine to each of your kids. Some kids will need a little bit more in their routines to help get them to settle down, while others just need to be reminded to brush their teeth. Make sure to include some one-on-one time with each of your kids during their bedtime routine so that your kids don’t feel left out. This is also a great time to check in with them emotionally and make sure they’re doing all right. If sleep has become a source of anxiety, a soothing routine can help your children begin to re-associate sleep with relaxation.
If your kids are old enough to have cell phones or tablets, try to keep them off of electronics during their wind-down time. Electronics with screens emit blue wave spectrum lights which can keep them up later at night by telling their brain to wake up and focus on the screen. Instead, try having them read a book or listen to one on audio.
If you want to include some physical activity, try doing some light yoga as a family. It’s great exercise to do before bed because it stretches you out without getting your adrenaline pumping and your heart racing like running would.
Building these habits early will help your kids to take them into their teenage years and adulthood, setting them up for successful sleeping for the rest of their lives.
3) Make Bedrooms Comfortable and Cool
Your kids’ bedroom should be designed to help them sleep at night. This means that it should be comfortable, calm and cool.
Kids, like adults, sleep best between 15 and 17 degrees Celsius (59-63⁰ F) with good air flow. They also need a comfortable bed to sleep in. If your kid is avoiding going to sleep in their own bed, they might need a new mattress or some new pillows. https://www.sleephelp.org/best-pillows/
You should also work to make sure that there are as few distractions as possible in their rooms at night, as well as in your own. The fewer distractions there are, the less likely you are to get up and start playing with them or working in the middle of the night.
Finally, if you find that you or your children continue to struggle to get to sleep at night, talk to your doctor to see if there is a medical condition that might be causing the problems you are seeing.