14 Great Tips to Help Your Children Get Enough Sleep

Healthy sleep is vital, especially in babies, toddlers, young kids, and teens. That’s because inadequate slumber and low-quality snoozing threaten healthy development and growth. In addition, poor sleep in children has been linked to behavioral problems, obesity, high-risk activities, and other serious issues.

Sleep deprivation in children can increase the risk of some common problems such as sleep talking or walking, sleep terrors and nightmares, and confused arousal (when your kids wake up confused and disoriented.) Ensuring your child gets enough sleep can help decrease or completely eliminate these episodes.


Signs Your Child Is Sleep-Deprived


Children can often have trouble verbalizing they are sleepy and letting you know about it by themselves. Parents need to look for contextual cues that mean their child is sleepy.


Interestingly enough, children present completely different symptoms of sleep deprivation to adults. Adults get sleepy and groggy, but children often react to sleep deprivation in one of two ways: they’re either cranky, clingy, crying a lot and throwing temper tantrums or just the opposite, they’re overactive and hyper because their bodies are running on adrenaline. In the latter instance, a child will often resist sleep, which misleads the parent into believing that the child isn’t tired.


Overtiredness causes the following disturbances in children: frequent night wake-ups, early wake-ups, short or broken naps, resisting naps (excessive crying or extreme giddiness), night terrors, or bedtime battles.


Overtiredness can also cause behavioral issues such as meltdowns, hyperactivity, clingy behavior and/or being unable to play independently, refusal to eat.


Setting healthy sleep habits when your child is young is the key to their wellbeing.


But, before you start adjusting your nightly routine, it helps to know how many hours of rest to aim for. Here’s how much sleep most people need at different ages:


Infants:                        Nine to 10 hours at night, plus three or more hours of naps.

Toddlers:                     Nine to 10 hours at night, plus two to three hours of naps.

School-age children:   Nine to 11 hours.

Adults:                         Seven to eight hours.


Good sleep for children

A good night’s sleep is about getting to sleep and staying asleep. Most children wake up by themselves in the morning if they’re getting enough good-quality sleep.


Getting to sleep


Most children fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed. How long it takes to get to sleep can depend on how sleepy your child’s body is, and also on their daytime and bedtime routine.


Some bedtime routines help your children wind down before bedtime so they can fall asleep more easily.


Staying asleep


During the night, your child cycles between light sleep, deep sleep, and dream sleep.

Your child gets most of their deep sleep during the first few hours after falling asleep. During the second half of the night, their sleep consists of light sleep and dream sleep.


Your child wakes briefly as they cycle between light and dream sleep, but might not be aware of being awake. To stay asleep, your child needs to be able to fall back asleep by him/herself after these brief waking episodes.


Here are 14 tips to help your child get enough sleep and avoid being overtired:


1. Create a bedtime routine

Having a proper bedtime routine is essential to both kids and adults. A bedtime routine includes phasing out any arousing activities in favour of more relaxing ones. Physical activity can also get kids energized and more awake, so refrain from letting them run around too much before bed.

A routine of bath, story, and bed can help younger children feel ready for sleep. For older children, the routine might include a quiet chat with you about the day then some time alone relaxing before lights out.

A bedtime routine should be just that – a routine. So try to keep it consistent night after night. This will let your child know that it is time for bed.

2. Get everyone involved in the routine

One reason kids stay up is because they are afraid of missing out on things while they sleep. One way to fix this is to have the whole family get ready for bed together. Dimming the lights, brushing your teeth together, and getting into your pyjamas can all help kids go to sleep instead of suffering from FOMO.

Show them it’s dark outside, there is nothing to do now and everyone is sleeping.

3. Keep regular sleep and wake times

Keep your child’s bedtimes and wake-up times within 1-2 hours of each other each day. This helps to keep your child’s body clock in a regular pattern. It’s a good idea to maintain it through weekends and holidays, not just on school days.

4. Avoid daytime naps for older children

Most children stop napping at 3-5 years of age. Daytime naps might make it harder for children over five-years-old to fall asleep at the beginning of the night. If older children are getting enough sleep overnight, they shouldn’t need a daytime nap.

5. Check noise and light in your child’s bedroom

A quiet, dimly lit space is important for good sleep. Check whether your child’s bedroom is too light or noisy for sleep. Blue light from televisions, computer screens, phones, and tablets might suppress melatonin levels and delay sleepiness. It probably helps to turn these off at least one hour before bedtime and to keep screens out of your child’s room at night.

6. Create a comfortable bedtime setup

First things first when it comes to a sleep environment: you must have a good-quality and safe mattress for your baby and child.

Some kids may have trouble falling or staying asleep because of allergens that cause itching, overheating and congestion. Have your child tested for allergies if you suspect this to be the case, and put them to bed in breathable, hypo-allergenic mattress.

7. Turn off electronics

Remove televisions, computers, games, and other electronic devices from their rooms. These devices promote wakefulness through both stimulating content as well as light which mimics daylight and tricks the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake.

Electronics should be turned off or taken away at least an hour before bedtime.

Allowing TVs and computers in their rooms provides them with possible distractions that you won’t be able to control once you’re out of the room.

8. Don’t use sleep as a punishment

Some parents tend to make sleep seem like a punishment, for example, “If you don’t do this, you’re going to bed.” This creates the wrong kind of association in your child’s mind since sleep should be perceived as positive.

Parents should stress the benefits of sleep to their children – how it will make them grow big and strong and help them have energy to have fun the following day.

9. Don’t get in bed with your child

Getting into bed with your child until they fall asleep teaches them that they cannot do it without you and creates an unhealthy dependency on the parent.

10. Teach your kids to self-soothe

Parents need to help their children learn to fall asleep on their own. Letting your child fall asleep on you and then taking them to bed can cause kids to react badly when they wake up. Singing or talking to them before sleep is fine, but then gradually leave the room and let them fall asleep on their own.

11. Give them a transitional object

Kids like to have something comforting to cling onto, so giving them an object like a stuffed animal can help comfort them. This way the parents do not need to be involved and present at all times for the child to fall asleep.

12. Make sure your child feels safe at night

If your child feels scared about going to bed or being in the dark, you can praise and reward them whenever they are brave. Avoiding scary TV shows, movies and computer games can help too. Some children with bedtime fears feel better when they have a night light.

13. Eat the right amount at the right time

Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make your child more alert or uncomfortable. This can make it harder for them to get to sleep. In the morning, a healthy breakfast helps to kick-start your child’s body clock at the right time.

14. Get plenty of natural light in the day

Encourage your child to get as much natural light as possible during the day, especially in the morning. Bright light suppresses melatonin. This helps your child feel awake and alert during the day and sleepy towards bedtime.


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