Healthy Sleep and Bedtime Habits
by TBA Courses on Aug 16, 2022
All parents agree that the biggest nightly challenge is to get your kids to bed -- and for them to stay there! While it’s not easy, it is one of the most important things you can do for your child. With technology taking over, it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain healthy sleeping habits.
Why is it necessary to inculcate a healthy night routine with your toddlers?
When children don't get enough sleep, they have a harder time controlling their emotions. Research has shown that lack of sleep can affect a child’s temperament, behaviour, alertness, and ability to learn. Kids who are sleep-deprived are more likely to have behavioural issues, to have trouble paying attention and learning, and are more prone to being overweight. Although it's not as easy task, it is important to do all you can to help your child get the sleep they need.
So what can you do to make sure your child sleeps enough to function at his or her optimal level?
It helps for your child to have a strict sleeping schedule. This will ensure that your child wakes up fresh and with sufficient fuel to take on the day enthusiastically.
Set a consistent bedtime that leaves enough time for your child to sleep the recommended amount of hours for their age. Children often mirror the people in their surroundings, so the best way to help them develop any habit is for you to start practising those habits yourselves. Create a culture of sleeping on time in the household, which will encourage the child to sleep at a specific time as well.
Here are a few tips to help make bedtime an easier process:
- Avoid daytime naps for older kids: If your child is five years or older, avoid daytime naps. Daytime naps longer than 20 minutes can make it harder for children over five to fall asleep at night, to get better REM sleep, and to wake up in the morning.
- Stick to a routine: Create a nightly bedtime routine which includes making sure your child brushes their teeth and use the bathroom, talk to them about their day, read a book to your child in bed, give them a goodnight kiss, and finally put off the lights.
- Start before they are already sleepy: Overtired children can be hyperactive or grumpy and will find it even harder to fall asleep, so try to start the routine before they start yawning.
- Limit electronic stimulants: Turn off devices at least one hour before bedtime. Keep screens out of your child’s room at night, these electronic screen activities can be stimulating and tend to hamper a sound sleep. If your child uses a night-light, choose a dim, warm-coloured globe, rather than a bright, white, cool-coloured globe.
Make them eat the right amount at the right time: Make sure your child has a satisfying evening meal at a reasonable time. Feeling hungry or too full before bed can make your child overstimulated or uncomfortable. In the morning, a healthy breakfast helps to kick-start your child’s body clock at the right time.
- Avoid caffeine or sugar post sunset: No child below the age of 18 should be allowed caffeine as part of their diet. Avoid sugar after 4pm as this makes it more difficult for children to fall asleep.
- Make sure your child feels safe at night: If your child feels scared about going to bed or being in the dark, you should ease them through the process, praise and reward them when brave. Avoiding scary TV shows, movies, computer games or books can help too. Some children with bedtime fears feel better when they have a night light. Your child's room should not be messy or loud.
- Leave the room: Leave your child's room after they have settled down for the night but are still awake and not while they have already fallen asleep. This allows for them to self soothe, and not panic if they wake up in the middle of the night and find you gone.
One Last Thing!
Kids will always ask for that one last thing -- hugs, a drink of water, a trip to the bathroom, just one more book. Do your best to head off these requests by making them part of the bedtime routine. And let your child know that once they are in bed, they have to stay in bed. If they get up, don't react -- simply take them by the hand and walk them back to bed. If you argue or give in to requests, you’re giving them the extra attention -- and delayed bedtime -- they want. If you read one more story or let them stay up longer "just this once," the bedtime routine you’ve built could come undone.