How Can I Help My Child Sleep Better?

Bedtime can be a struggle for many kids, and especially for their parents. If your child or teen has trouble winding down before bed or seems to not be getting enough restful sleep, there are a few things you can try that may be helpful. We recommend going to the doctor first, so you can have your child checked for rare but serious conditions that may affect their sleep, such as childhood apnea or restless leg syndrome. Once you get the green light from the doctor, try this checklist to help your child sleep better.

Sleep Hygiene Checklist For Kids

  • Does your child have a consistent bedtime routine? Creating a consistent bedtime routine helps your child wind down and get the body ready for sleep. Simple activities such as putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, taking a warm bath, and reading can be helpful in establishing a routine. The predictability of a bedtime routine can also offer comfort and certainty for children who struggle with insomnia.
  • Does your child have a regular sleep schedule? As tempting as it may be to allow your school-age child to stay up longer and sleep in on weekends, maintaining a steady bedtime and wake up time during the weekdays and on weekends can help your child’s natural biological clock to facilitate sleep every night and will make them less tired on school days.
  • Does your child have access to electronics before bedtime? It is important to limit your child’s exposure to smart devices such as tablets, computers, and phones throughout the day, but especially 1 to 2 hours before bed. These devices emit blue light which messes with the brain’s ability to produce sleep hormones and promote alertness, and children are particularly susceptible to blue light effects. By unplugging 2 hours before bed, kids will be able to wind down more easily.
  • Is your child’s room comfortable, quiet, and dark enough? Make sure your child’s room is not too hot or too cold. If your child is a light sleeper and sensitive to sounds, try using some white noise from a fan or from a sound machine. For the kiddos afraid of the dark who insist on a night light, make sure to limit their exposure to white and blue light, which means your choice of night light bulbs really matters. Red is the only color that does not disturb the brain’s ability to produce melatonin. If your child will not sleep without a night light, try swapping it for one with a red light bulb.
  • Is your child able to talk about worries and anxieties during the day? Stress and worry can keep anyone up at night, but especially the little ones. Make sure your child feels safe to share their worries, fears, and concerns with you during the day instead of saving them for bedtime. Sleep anxiety can also be an issue with kids. It is important for parents to find a balance between being firm and enforcing bedtime rules and routines while being caring, loving, and understanding so your child does not create anxiety around sleep and bedtime. 

We know how frustrating it might be for you to be dealing with a child who is fighting you to go to bed or has trouble staying asleep. As tempting as it might be to simply give them a sleeping pill or supplement, it is not advisable to do so without a doctor’s order. Try implementing this checklist as well as the other tips we have on our blog and you just might find the one that makes the difference for your child. 

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