As a parent or caregiver, you know how important it is for children to get enough sleep. Children who don’t sleep well are more prone to anxiety, hyperactivity, and irritability. They may also struggle with cognitive functions like attention, memory, and learning. On the other hand, children who get enough restful sleep can experience improved physical and mental health, increased cognitive functions, and better overall well-being.
One of the most effective ways to promote healthy sleep patterns in children is to establish consistent bedtime routines. By creating a calming and relaxing environment and sticking to a consistent schedule, your child (and you) can get quality sleep every night. Today, we’ll share the top 5 bedtime routines that can help both you and your child sleep better.
1. Set a Consistent Bedtime
Establishing a consistent bedtime is one of the most critical aspects of a bedtime routine. Children who stick to a regular schedule tend to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep throughout the night. They are also less prone to crankiness and irritability that can come from being overtired.
When setting a regular bedtime, be sure to choose a time that works for your child’s age and developmental stage. Younger children need more sleep than older children, and even minor adjustments in bedtime can affect sleep quality. For example, preschoolers typically require 11-13 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers need about 8-10 hours.
Once you’ve chosen a bedtime, establish routines that help signal to your child that it’s time to wind down. This may include a bath, brushing teeth, getting into pajamas, and reading a story. Be consistent with these routines to help establish a predictable pattern that prepares your child for sleep.
2. Unwind and Relax
Just like adults, children need to unwind and relax before bedtime. Creating a calming environment can help promote relaxation, calmness, and may help reduce sleep anxiety.
There are many ways to create a relaxing environment. You can try using aromatherapy with soothing scents like lavender or chamomile, dimming the lights, and playing soft, soothing sounds or music. To promote relaxation, you can encourage your child to engage in calming activities before bed like coloring, journaling, or meditating.
3. Limit Screen Time
Research has shown that screens, such as smartphones, tablets, and TVs, can overstimulate the brain, making it harder for children to fall asleep. Limiting screen time before bed can help your child sleep better and fall asleep faster.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding electronic devices for at least one hour before bedtime. Instead, encourage your child to wind down with a calming activity such as reading a book, listening to music, or having a warm bath.
4. Create a Bedtime Routine Together
Creating a bedtime routine together can be an effective strategy for getting children to stick to a consistent bedtime schedule. When children are involved in the decision-making process, they are more likely to feel invested in the routine and look forward to it each night.
As you work together to establish a bedtime routine, encourage your child to share their preferences and interests. This might include favorite stories or games that can be incorporated into the bedtime routine. You can also use this time to talk with your child about their day, helping them relax and alleviate any concerns or worries they may have.
5. Be Consistent with Adult Bedtimes and Routines
While it’s essential to create effective bedtime routines for children, it’s also important that adults prioritize their own sleep. Parents who set the example of prioritizing their sleep will be more likely to establish healthy bedtime routines in their children.
To ensure your sleep needs are met, establish your own bedtime routine. This could mean developing relaxation techniques such as reading, deep breathing exercises or yoga to incorporate into your own routine. Also, try to synchronize your bedtime with that of your child, this can help increase consistency in the bedtime routine and can also help both of you get better sleep.