Sleep is an important factor in everyones overall health. Sleep is especially important for children, as they are always moving, learning, and growing.
Sound sleep helps to give them lasting energy to go about their days and the time to repair their bodies and file away the lessons they learned from the previous day.
However, it is not always about the amount of sleep children get! There are several factors at play when it comes to great sleep.
To ensure that your child still receives the quality of sleep that is necessary for optimal performance, you need to pay attention to all aspects of their health.
Here are some quick sleep tips for establishing healthy sleep habits for your children!
1. Establish a Bedtime and Wake Up Time
Having a set sleep schedule can help your child get into a natural rhythm for resting and waking up. Try to work with them to set up a reasonable bedtime and make sure they wake up at a decent hour in the mornings.
This will help them fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling more alert every day! Make sure that the schedule stays uniform on school days and the off days.
2. Avoid Afternoon Naps for Older Children
In their early life, small children need to take periodic naps to function at a hundred percent. However, as they approach Kindergarten age, they should avoid afternoon naps altogether.
Late day naps will prevent your child from getting sleepy around bedtime and can prevent them from achieving deep sleep. If they need a nap during the day, try to aim for mid-morning or before lunch for nap time.
3. Calm Down, Relax, and Avoid Technology Before Bed
A routine for pre-bedtime is just as important as a regular sleep schedule. Your child should do the same things before bed every night.
For example, they could take a shower, brush their teeth, and listen to some classical music before getting into bed every night. Besides, it is essential to avoid using technology and looking at bright screens within an hour of bedtime.
Those screens will keep your kid from falling asleep and will prevent them from getting a full sleep cycle. Instead, try reading them a story or letting them read a book.
4. Check Your Child’s Bedroom and Sleep Environment
Next, you should examine your child’s bedroom. How much light is in the room at night? Are there any abnormal sounds that could keep your child awake?
To get quality sleep, their room should be dark, cool, and quiet.
If they have a fear of the dark, a warm night light (not too bright) can help them feel more comfortable.
If there are weird sounds or a lot of noise, try to find the cause and eliminate the sound source.
Otherwise, you could try to use a white noise machine or a fan. Remember no technology, bright lights, or loud music.
5. Avoid Excessive Caffeine and Sugar
Try to keep caffeine away from your child. Since they are small, a tiny amount of caffeine can keep them from falling asleep at night and contribute to anxiety and hyperactivity.
If they do consume caffeine, make sure it is limited. The FDA currently doesn’t have any recommendations on how much caffeine is ok for children. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend caffeine among children or adolescents.
Too much sugar may also lead to trouble sleeping at night. Consuming sugar before bed can cause your little one to be more alert, delaying their bedtime. If your child is struggling to fall asleep, think about types of foods and drinks they are consuming during the second half of the day.
Instead, try encouraging them to drink water and eat more fresh fruits that contain no added sugars, fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals!
6. Get Enough Exercise and Sunlight
Exercising throughout the day is good for your physical and mental health. It also helps people sleep longer and deeper! The same goes for your children.
Getting some exercise will burn off some of your child’s excess energy and help them get tired enough for bed. However, avoid late-night exercise as this can raise your child’s body temperature and prevent them from falling asleep.
Getting sunlight during the day increases the body’s production of melatonin, which helps with naturally falling asleep and staying asleep. So make sure your kid gets out in the mornings for some sunlight and exercise!
7. Eat Healthy Foods at the Right Times
Feeling hungry or feeling stuffed at bedtime can make kids feel either too hyper or too sick to fall asleep. Make sure they are eating a healthy meal a few hours before bedtime.
Again, avoid caffeine and excessive sugar… especially in the afternoon! “When” they are eating is just as important as “what” they are eating. Stick to regular mealtime and snack schedule.
When in doubt, replacing certain unhealthy foods with vegetables is always a great choice. Veggies will keep your kid fuller for longer without overloading their sugar or carbohydrate intake.
In other words, vegetables will not make your child feel bloated, hyper, or prevent them from sleeping at night.
8. Make Sure They Feel Safe and Loved
The last important thing for your child to get good sleep is comfort. They need to feel safe in their own room and loved by everyone in the house.
They may be scared of the dark or what their minds think is hiding in their closet. Go into their room and check under their bed and in their closet for monsters.
Crack the door open for them to see a little bit of light. Tuck them in and read them a bedtime story (not a scary one). This will go a long way toward helping them get some rest, and will also make them feel confident, happy, and loved.
Time to Put These Tips to the Test
A lot of things go into the whole sleep equation, and it may seem like a daunting task at first. Little by little, following these tips will help improve every aspect of your family’s health through better sleep.
Sleep is critical for your child to grow big and strong, and they need sleep to focus on learning in their early years. With some sleep education, you can help set your child up for success!