Sleep tips for kids need to be followed consistently if they are to be effective.
The modern way of life, diet, and lifestyle have such adverse cumulative effects on our kids’ quality of sleep, wreaking unprecedented havoc on their sleep cycle.
Should they lack the recommended amount of sleep, our kids’ physical and cognitive development would be compromised.
Here Are Some of the Negative Effects of Prolonged Sleep Deprivation:
- Behavioral problems
- Low academic performance
- Mood and anxiety disorder
- Health problems/ Low immunity
To help our kids get their normal sleep cycle back on track, here are evidence-based sleeping tips you can use to help your kids fall asleep faster.
Sleep Tips for Kids
1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine
A bedtime routine is a series of winding-down activities that give kids the hunch that bedtime is approaching.
And knowing that children are naturally predisposed to follow a routine that they are obliged to do regularly, we should not be lenient in implementing child bedtime routines do’s and don’ts.
Otherwise, they will be less likely to stick to their regular sleep schedule.
Do the following in the same order consistently every single night for this bedtime routine to be effective (You can make the necessary adjustments if you need to)
- A light and healthy snack that helps induce sleep
No chocolates, please, as it has a good amount of caffeine that can stimulate the brain and keep them awake. No citrus fruits or sour snacks as well as it can cause acidity and an upset stomach.
We can provide them with a light snack that can help them sleep better at night, like cherries, banana yogurt, or banana slathered with peanut butter on top.
- A relaxing warm bath
- Brush the teeth (Giving them an inkling that once they brush their teeth, they can’t snack on anything anymore)
- Putting on their pajamas
Provide comfy sleepwear for your kids. The act of putting on a PJ will signal the body that it’s time to wind down.
Never allow them to be in their PJs during the day while playing with their toys. They have to associate their PJs with sleep and nothing else.
- Always ask them to pee before bedtime to prevent waking up at night
- Let them say their prayers
- Read bedtime stories to your kids
Read to them stories that will nudge them to drift off all the way to dreamland.
- Say your goodnight and make sure to give them tight hugs before you tuck them into bed
2. Create a restful environment
- Play white noise in the background
White noise is different from the annoying noises that keep us awake at night, like the sound of a barking dog or a noisy neighbor. In layman’s terms, it’s a steady, unobtrusive sound that makes most people fall asleep as soon as they hit the hay.
Some examples of white noise:
- The sound of rain
- An electric fan’s whirring sound
- The humming sound of a ceiling fan
- Humming air conditioner
White noise is quite helpful in drowning out intrusive noises that disrupt sleep, and it’s also widely used to help people suffering from tinnitus.
(People with the disorder have the perception of ringing or buzzing sound in both ears when an external sound is audibly not present)
Word of caution: If you’re going to use the sound of a whirring fan to lull a toddler to sleep, make sure the fan is not within reach. Your child might wake up while you’re away and find him sticking his fingers into the blades.
- Dim the lights
- Sing your child his favorite lullaby to lull him to sleep
- Keep the room cool
An extreme or sudden drop in temperature can potentially disrupt sleep. Try setting the temperature at a comfortable level.
According to sleepfoundation.org., around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius is ideal.
But don’t follow this directive strictly. Determine at what temperature your child is most comfortable, then set that same temperature level every time you put your child to sleep.
3. No screen time 2 hours before bedtime
The blue wavelengths from the computer or mobile phone can negatively affect your kids’ sleep-wake internal body clock.
The blue light fools their brains into thinking it’s still daytime, which can prevent your kids from falling into a deep sleep. So keep gadgets out of the bedroom two hours before bedtime.
It’s actually much better if you were to house your electronic gadgets outside the bedroom, in a designated spot in your home where your kids can access them for a limited amount of time.
4. No caffeine consumption after lunch
Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep our kids mentally energized for many hours. Hence, consuming it after lunch can still have a lingering or stimulating effect on the brain even until past midnight.
5. Exposing them to morning light is one of the most effective sleep tips for kids
The quality of our sleep is heavily influenced by the circadian rhythm. It is a 24- hour internal clock that synchronizes a wide range of processes in the body, including sleep patterns.
Having sun exposure first thing in the morning aids your child’s circadian rhythm to synchronize with the rising and the setting of the sun, keeping your child fully awake during the day and deep in sleep at night time.
6. Regular physical exercise can help children sleep better
Children with a regular exercise routine sleep faster than kids who are physically inactive or have sedentary behaviors.
Let us then take our children out in the yard and expose them to the morning light while doing their exercise routine.
The more vigorous the activity, the faster they will fall asleep come night-time.
Word of caution:
- If your child has a medical condition, consult a doctor first to check if you could allow your child to engage in rigorous physical activities.
- Never leave your child alone or unattended in the yard, even if you don’t live in a seedy neighborhood. In this day and age, being protective of our kids is a must.
7. Be firm in implementing the rules
Kids will sometimes try to test their boundaries until you cave in to their whims. They will perform delaying tactics to avoid going to bed, so let us be firm in enforcing the rules.
8. Check your kids’ medicine
Some medicines can have unwanted side effects such as drowsiness during the day, inhibiting us from falling asleep quickly at night-time.
If your child is taking medication that makes him feel abnormally sleepy, dazed, and lethargic during the daytime, ask your doctor for an alternative.
9. Never allowing them to take naps close to bedtime is one of the most effective sleep tips for kids
Having naps close to bedtime can impair their ability to go to bed earlier at night. Scheduling their naps an hour after lunch will be ideal.
10. Have a standard time schedule for bedtimes and wake-up times
This is key to ensuring our children get plenty of high-quality sleep as it helps regulate their out-of-whack sleep cycle.
Once the kids get used to sleeping and waking up at a certain time, they are more inclined to stick to the regular sleep schedule.
11. Consult a doctor if your child has sleep problems
If you followed all the tips and your child still suffers from fragmented, disrupted sleep, consult your doctor to check for sleep disorders.
Examples of sleep disorders are as follows:
- Restless leg syndrome
- Obstructive sleep apnea and snoring
- Rhythmic movement disorders
- Night terrors
Conclusion: Be Consistent in Enforcing Bedtime Rules
We can never underestimate the pernicious effect of sleep deprivation on our kids’ mental and physical health. By having an unwavering resolve to implement proven sleep hygiene tips and strategies, we can help our children meet their required hours of sleep every day without fail.