7 Tips to Help Your Child Sleep Better
School-age children need between nine and eleven hours of sleep each night for proper mind and body development. However, knowing the reasoning behind why your child needs to get a full night’s sleep isn’t enough. Some children struggle with going to sleep and staying asleep.
So if you’re exhausted from staying up all night trying to convince your seven-year-old to go to bed, you might find yourself considering extreme measures, whether it is Tina’s sleep spells or medicinal sleep aids.
However, there are also more natural methods you can use to help improve the quality of your child’s sleep. So before you head off to your paediatrician to beg for a prescription that will help your child sleep, try out some of the following strategies.
Establishing a relaxing routine
A relaxing sleep time routine is important for all children, regardless of their age. If you’ve slacked on the bedtime routine now that your child is no longer a toddler, it is time to reestablish some sort of bedtime plan. In addition to the normal bath and PJs routine, find ways for your child to relax before bed. This could include meditation, reading a story together, and a quiet chat with you to reflect upon their day.
Keep regular sleep hours
Some parents establish a routine where their child goes to sleep early on school nights but stays up until whenever on weekend nights. However, this disrupts their circadian rhythm, which means it can be hard for them to get enough sleep. Regardless of whether it is a school night, weekend, or holiday, try to make sure your child goes to sleep and wakes up around the same time. Also, avoid letting your school-age child take long naps.
Get outside and get active
Getting your child ready for a good night’s sleep starts during the day! Not only does getting outside for around an hour every day help your child use up energy, but it also exposes them to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight helps your child’s body develop a natural balance between serotonin and melatonin. It doesn’t matter if this physical activity comes from the unstructured time at a playground or structured time playing a sport, just get them active!
Turn off the electronics
The blue light that comes from electronics stimulates the brain and inhibits the production of melatonin. So when you think that time in front of the tv is helping your child settle, it is just making them more wired! Children should turn off all screens, whether it is the tv, a tablet, or a gaming device, at least an hour before bed. Find other ways to help your child settle down at night, such as reading.
Bedrooms are for sleeping
If your child’s bedroom is also their playroom, your child might associate their bedroom with playing. Some children need their bedroom to be only a place for sleeping. If you’ve tried establishing a healthy bedtime routine, but your child is still getting up to play in the middle of the night, you may need to remove all toys from the bedroom. This gets rid of temptation, plus it also helps your child associate their room with sleeping.
Offer a snack before bed
Some children may find themselves hungry before bed. Putting your child to bed with an empty stomach is likely to cause them to have a hard time falling asleep. At the same time, however, you also don’t want to fill your child full of sugar before bed! Choose a healthy bedtime snack for your child before bed, such as a banana, hard-boiled egg, or string cheese. Don’t turn your child’s bedtime snack into a second dinner!
Talk about nightmares
Make sure that your child isn’t experiencing nightmares when sleeping. Nightmares can be scary at any age but can be especially scary for children because of their vivid imagination. They can cause a child to wake up distressed and may need the comfort of their parent to go back to sleep. When your child comes to you after a nightmare, reassure your child that they are safe and help them find ways to cope with the nightmare.
If your school-age child is struggling to sleep through the night, it can make the days hard for both of you. Start by looking at your current bedtime routine and determining what changes you can make. If you’ve made changes and your child is still struggling, it could be time to ask your paediatrician for a referral to a sleep specialist.