Sleep is an integral part of every person’s life – we absolutely can’t function without it. But when kids have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, it can wreak havoc on their daytime routine as well.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Babies and young toddlers thrive on routine. So when it comes to falling asleep at night, a bedtime routine will help them drift off to sleep quickly and effortlessly. This should include a nighttime feeding (a bottle or sippy cup), bath, diaper change or toileting, a bedtime story, or other calming activity, such as rocking or snuggling, then transitioning to the crib or bed when they are drowsy for “lights off.”
Older toddlers and children benefit from the same type of structured routine, but simply modified for their age. Bath time, teeth brushing, and storytime or reading in bed for a set number of minutes before “lights out” is ideal. This is usually the age where parents may want to put a television in a child’s room – this is usually done with good intentions, but will inevitably lead to insomnia if the child is allowed to watch television in order to fall asleep or gets up in the middle of the night to turn the TV on. TVs provide both visual and sound stimulation, which keeps little brains active!
Limit Visual Stimulation Before Bed
Teens essentially follow the same evening routine as older children, most importantly adhering to the same bedtime each night. Limiting the amount of screen time (tablets and cell phone use included) prior to bedtime will help cut down on the amount of visual stimulation and make falling asleep easier. Also, ensure that your teen has at least an hour of “transition time” before bed each evening after completing homework to rest and unwind – it can be hard for minds to shut down quickly after focusing on homework.
With time and consistency, many sleep troubles can be overcome, leading to much more peaceful nights and pleasant days ahead. Contact your pediatrician if your child still struggles with falling asleep and staying asleep after implementing these bedtime routines.