We’ve all been there: you had a long and stressful day, and now it’s bedtime for your little ones. You want them to go to sleep quickly and with little fuss. They need to get enough sleep – you know what happens when they don’t. Sleep health is important! But oftentimes parents don’t get what they want in this department. Bedtime for kids can be a long, hard struggle. They don’t settle down. They keep tossing, turning, and finding new excuses to get up. Your peaceful evening quickly deteriorates into a battle.
Years ago, many children and young people would come home from school and spend the rest of the day outside. They would naturally burn up any excess reserves of energy, and fall into bed exhausted at the end of the day. Unfortunately, many of our children today lead what would be classified as a sedentary lifestyle. They spend the majority of their day in school, sitting at desks, and when they get home, they spend their time watching television, playing video games, or doing something on their iPads. As a consequence, they are not burning up their excess energy, and are not tired when bedtime comes around. That is why it’s an excellent idea to get your children involved in a sport or other afternoon/evening activity. This will teach them discipline, teamwork, and most importantly of all, will use up their energy sources, which will, in turn, help them fall asleep quicker. Find a sport that they enjoy, and they will not even realize that they are exercising.
Limit Screen Time
Tempting as it may be to allow your child to spend some time playing with their iPad prior to going to bed, scientific studies have found that using a screen up to two hours before bedtime, can be detrimental to getting a good night’s sleep. The reason is that the blue light, which is emitted by computer screens, has been shown to cause a 50 percent drop in melatonin — the hormone that makes people feel sleepy. Even more disturbing, the same studies also showed that the melatonin cycle shifted forward by an hour and a half, essentially creating self-imposed jet lag.
White noise has been shown to drown out sounds that might otherwise prevent your child from falling asleep or waking up when sleeping. While some people have a hard time sleeping with any sound, many people find a nondescript sound in the background to be soothing. You probably already know someone who has a hard time falling to sleep without white noise. You can invest in a fan or even a white noise machine, which either produces the sound through speakers or through mechanical action. Many families have reported significant success with white noise, making it a quick and inexpensive tool in your arsenal.
Although your children may ask for sugar before bed, this is something you want to resist! Stay strong! Not only is it bad for their teeth, but it will also cause a sugar rush and make it much more difficult for them to fall asleep (at least until they crash). A better choice would be to give them a snack that is high in protein, such as a hand full of nuts, a hard-boiled egg, or celery and peanut butter. This will help your child to stabilize their blood sugar, which in turn will help them to enjoy natural, healthy sleep all night long.
Sometimes kids carry a lot of excitement – or worry – with them to bed. Just like adults. Certain kinds of herbs can help to calm the mind, which aids in the process of drifting off to sleep. Chamomile, passionflower, valerian, and lavender are all good choices. You can use them in an essential oil form, or brew some tea (if your kids are sophisticated like that).
With these ideas as tools in your kit, realize that they are best when used as part of a routine. We all enjoy better sleep health when we go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (even on the weekends).
Although every child is different, we are confident that the majority of families will notice a significant improvement by implementing the tips above. The results will not happen in one night, but be persistent, and you should start to see results. Who knows? You may even decide to try some of these ideas for yourself!