Getting a good night’s sleep is important for children’s health, learning and wellbeing. Our tips on how to sleep better can help your child get to sleep, stay asleep and get enough good-quality sleep. Sleep promotes alertness, memory and performance. Children who get enough sleep are more likely to function better and are less prone to behavioural problems and moodiness. So that's why it is important for parents to start early and help their children develop good sleep habits.
Children Need And Thrive On Routine
The #1 tip for good sleeping habits in children is to follow a nightly routine. A bedtime ritual makes it easier for your child to relax, fall asleep and sleep through the night.
Typical Bedtime Routine
Make bedtime the same time every night.
Make bedtime a positive and relaxing experience without TV or videos. According to one recent study, TV viewing prior to bed can lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Save your child’s favourite relaxing, non-stimulating activities until last and have them occur in the child’s bedroom.
Keep the bedtime environment (e.g. light, temperature) the same all night long.
Encourage Children To Fall Asleep On Their Own
Have your child form positive associations with sleeping. A child should not need a parent to help him/her fall asleep. The child who falls asleep on his or her own will be better able to return to sleep during normal nighttime awakenings and sleep throughout the night.
During the night, your child’s body cycles between light sleep and deep sleep. He wakes up briefly after periods of light sleep and probably doesn’t even notice. To stay asleep, he needs to fall back to sleep quickly after these brief waking episodes.
Getting good-quality sleep
Good-quality sleep is about getting enough deep sleep and not waking too often. Your child needs deep sleep because it’s more restful than light sleep. Your child will spend more time in deep sleep and probably wake less often if he can relax before bedtime.
1. Keep regular sleep and wake times
If your child is six months or older, help her go to bed and get up around the same time every day. Keep wake-up times on school days and weekends to within two hours of each other. This can help get your child’s body clock get into a regular rhythm.
2. 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 him whenever he’s 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.
3. Avoid the clock
If your child is checking the time often, encourage her to move her clock or watch to a spot where she can’t see it.
4. 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 him to get to sleep. In the morning, a healthy breakfast helps to kick-start your child’s body clock at the right time.
5. Check noise and light in your child’s bedroom
A dark, quiet, private 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.
This article is presented by:
Dr. Andrea Parisio-Ferraro - Chiropractor & Wellness Practitioner, Special Interest in Care of Infants, Pregnancy & Fertility
Essendon Fields, VICTORIA AUSTRALIA
For more information, head to www.nurture-you.com.au
The Information presented in this article is a guide only and does not substitute for health professional consultation. Any symptom that is of a persistent nature should be thoroughly assessed by your qualified health care practitioner.