Getting the kids to bed can be a struggle every day, or bedtime can be a relaxing end to a great day. Ideally, you want the latter, but this can be challenging to achieve especially if you have kids who resist sleep. Want to make bedtime successful? Keep these five sleepy time principles in mind.
1. Be active but not right before bed.
Being physically active during the day can help your child to sleep at night. Make sure your child has ample time to shake out their energy during the day. If you work out regularly, you know just how helpful this can be for people of all ages.
However, you shouldn’t try to “wear out” an active child right before bed. When you’re active, your brain and body can stay stimulated for a couple of hours after the activity. This can backfire when you’re getting your child ready for bed. Keep the mood quiet and soothing during the two hours before bed.
2. Use a consistent bedtime routine.
A consistent bedtime routine cues your child’s mind and lets them know that it’s time for sleep. It also helps your child to wind down and transition from activity to resting. Depending on the age of the child, this may take about an hour. Focus on activities that are naturally calming. For instance, a bath and a book are the classic cornerstones of a bedtime routine.
When you’re ready to go to sleep for the night, your body’s temperature naturally drops. A bath helps to stimulate this process. When you’re in the bath, you’re warm and cozy, but after you get out, your body cools down, naturally signaling that it’s bedtime. Books are also inherently relaxing. Reading is linked to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
3. Talk about their day.
Speaking of stress, if your child feels stressed in the evening, their cortisol will spike, and they won’t be able to sleep. Let your kids get their worries off their shoulders by having a chat with them in the evening. Let them tell you about their day and help them work through their concerns.
4. Create a relaxing environment.
The right environment is key. Ideally, you should only use your child’s bed for sleep. If they associate bed with playing, it won’t be as relaxing.
Keep in mind that blue lights reduce melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. So, put in red night lights instead of blue ones and try to stay away from screens. If you decide to incorporate a quiet video into your child’s nighttime routine, use a blue light blocker. It’s okay. Some kids like this option better than a book. You have to do what works for your family.
5. Look into resources for more serious problems.
In some cases, a more serious problem may be the culprit. If you’ve been trying all the tricks for years and still haven’t gotten your child to be able to go to sleep without huge hassles, you may want to consult with a doctor. Issues such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, and separation issues can all prevent children from going to sleep easily. But you can get help for these concerns.