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How to Help your Kids Build Healthy Sleeping Habits

There’s a mystery that many parents have been trying to solve for years, decades — ok, let’s be honest, probably from the beginning of time.  What is this mystery, you ask? It’s the constant battle to get your children to sleep. It’s the courtroom lecture with your tiny little humans on how they need sleep […]

There’s a mystery that many parents have been trying to solve for years, decades — ok, let’s be honest, probably from the beginning of time. 

What is this mystery, you ask? It’s the constant battle to get your children to sleep. It’s the courtroom lecture with your tiny little humans on how they need sleep to maintain a healthy body. But, no matter how many times you explain it, it just seems to go in one ear and out the other.

Here are the cold-hard facts: your child needs sleep. Not only for physical reasons but also mental reasons. Sleep gives your children the opportunity to restore essential resources, and a rested brain gives them the ability to quickly and easily learn new information. Thus, these years preceding adulthood are critical in terms of growth and health.

Ok, so you know the importance of sleep. But how do you guide your children to build healthy sleeping habits without it being a constant battle?

Set a Routine

Kids learn from repetition. When you break that repetition, it confuses them. Consistent sleep patterns lead to longer and higher quality sleep. So, set a schedule for when to go to bed and when to get up. Kids will often ask to stay up later on non-school nights. Figure out how much longer they can stay up on these nights and be consistent. One night without restrictions can mess up your child’s sleep schedule for the next few days. 

How many hours of sleep do kids need? This guide gives an approximation of how much sleep your kid needs based on their age. Typically, kids get less than the recommended amounts. Watch your child see if they are groggy. And if they are, adjust their schedule accordingly. 

Food and Drink Bother Sleeping Kids

If a full bladder wakes your child at night, they can struggle to go back to sleep. So hydrate your kids during the morning and afternoon hours. But remove all liquids at least two hours before bedtime. Also, limit caffeine intake. Too much caffeine leads to hyperactivity and bladder stimulation. 

Food signals your body to wake up. This boost is why eating a healthy, hardy breakfast soon after waking is crucial. When you eat late at night, these signals trigger. The best tip is to stop eating approximately three hours before bedtime. 

Also, avoid sugar at dinner. Packing the daily dessert for a school lunch instead keeps hyperactivity to the afternoon. And, it gives your kids something to look forward to in class. 

Lighting is Everything

Bright lights will keep your children awake. Most of us feel refreshed when we are in the sun and sleepy in darkness. So make sure your kids get plenty of sunlight during the day. This exposure will give them the energy they need. 

Conversely, keep children in relative darkness in the hour leading up to sleep. A soft reading light is fine, but screens can cause problems. The blue light from screens slows the flow of melatonin, a sleep-causing hormone. Stop TV and video consumption an hour before bedtime.

Mental Suggestions to Help Kids Sleep

It’s entirely normal for children to become nervous at night for a variety of reasons. If your child seems scared, take a few minutes to talk to them about their fears. Get down on their level and show them that you’re listening. Often, they just need reassurance to know everything is ok. Also, consider adding a night light to a small child’s room. Usually, a little light will help ease fears.

You can also play quiet music that will help your child relax. But avoid music with lyrics as the brain subconsciously works to understand words. Instead, keep a slow to mid-tempo song going that has a repetitive chord progression. Play this song at low to mid-volume. Most kids fall asleep after 20 minutes, so a half-hour recording is your best bet.

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Key Takeaways

1. Set a clear schedule and stick to it.   

2. Limit food and drink intake in the hours leading to bedtime.

3. Expose kids to sunlight during the day and erase screens before bedtime.

4. Give your kids one-on-one time to discuss their fears and provide calming music.