When children sleep well, they wake up ready to participate fully in their daily activities. Here are some suggestions for helping your child get a good night’s sleep.
- Let your household quiet down as bedtime approaches. It is easier for children to get sleepy when they are in a quiet, calm environment. In the hour before bedtime, keep music soft. When at all possible, keep lighting dim instead of bright. The evening is a good time for quiet activities instead of more vigorous or exciting games.
- Limit “screen time” in the hours before bedtime. Computer games, TV and movies are exciting, and playing games or watching TV in the evening can make it harder for children to fall asleep. Also, the light emitted by screens and monitors sends a strong signal to the brain that it’s time to be awake.
- Have a bedtime routine. A consistent bedtime routine can be very powerful. The components of the routine will serve as cues to your child that it’s time to sleep. There are no “required” components to a good routine, but you might consider giving a warm bath, reading a story, or singing a special song. Every family and every child will have a different routine that works for them. Choose a routine that works for you and your child and do the same steps, in the same order, every night.
- Keep the bedroom cool instead of warm. It’s easier to fall asleep in a cool room. If your household is noisy, consider using a fan or a white noise machine in the room as well.
- Use the bed for sleeping only. The idea is for a child only to be in the bed when they are sleeping or falling asleep. Choose other rooms or a chair in the bedroom for reading or other activities during the day. If your child is having trouble falling asleep at night and has spent 10 minutes in bed, let them get out of bed and sit in a quiet, dim place. Have them read a familiar book for a few minutes until they feel sleepy. At that point, they can get back into the bed.
- Turn the lights on in the morning. Light tells our brain that it’s daytime. When it’s time for your child to wake up, open the shades to allow natural light in, or turn on the lights. This will help your child to get used to their regular wake up time and to wake up more easily.
- Wake up around the same time every day. As parents, we often worry that our children aren’t getting enough sleep. It’s tempting to let them “sleep in” on weekends. Unfortunately, having a different wake-up time on weekdays and weekends confuses the body’s internal clock and makes waking up more difficult on weekdays. It’s ok for children to sleep a little later on the weekends, but the closer their weekend wake-up time is to their weekday one, the better.
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