Having a good night’s sleep is one of the biggest contributing factors to children’s well-being. If they fail to get quality sleep, they’re more likely to be irritable, have poor focus at school, experience mood swings, and misbehave.
To sleep well, a child needs to be able to fall asleep and then continue sleeping for a period of time recommended for their age group. This ranges from about 11 to 14 hours a day for toddlers to 8 to 10 hours for teenagers.
Children generally need up to 20 minutes to fall asleep, but this varies based on how sleepy they are and what they did before going to bed. There are ways to get them to sleep more easily, including a soothing bedtime routine.
Like adults, children wake up a few times during the night, but not all of them are able to go back to sleep on their own. This is a skill that you can teach them.
Here are a few ways to improve your child’s sleep.
1. Establish a bedtime routine
Good sleep habits are encouraged by a consistent bedtime routine that begins at roughly the same time every night. Toddlers may feel more prepared to go to sleep if their routine includes giving them a bath, reading a bedtime story, and tucking them in.
A conversation with you about their day followed by some alone time to unwind before going to sleep may be part of the routine for older kids.
2. Unwind before bed
Encourage your kid to unwind before going to sleep. For toddlers, a cuddle session will probably do. Older kids may prefer to unwind by taking a shower, listening to calming music, reading, or practicing certain breathing and meditation techniques.
If they need more than half an hour to fall asleep, they may require more time to relax before bed.
3. Go to bed at the same time
Your child should wake up and go to bed within the same one to two-hour time frame. This routine helps regulate your child’s circadian rhythm. Holidays and weekends are no exception here.
4. Limit napping
Toddlers can’t do without naps, but most kids stop taking them between the ages of 3 and 5. Try to limit naps for children older than five years old to no more than 20 minutes.
They also shouldn’t be too close to bedtime. If their naps are too long and start too late, they won’t be sleepy enough at night.
5. Make them feel safe
Many children are afraid of the dark and scary monsters lurking under the bed. Talk to them about their fears, let them know you’re there for them, and reward them every time they show courage.
Don’t let them watch horror movies, especially before going to bed. Using a night light can help.
6. Limit light and noise
Ideally, your child will sleep in the dark, but if they need a night light, make sure it’s warm and dim. Keeping their room quiet is also important, so they shouldn’t play any loud music before going to bed.
Keeping devices out of the bedroom, at least at night, helps get them in the right mood for sleep.
7. Make sure they’re sleepy
Kids who are physically active sleep better. Provide them with opportunities to engage in a high-energy activity, such as jumping on a trampoline, for at least some time during the day.
They won’t have much energy left at the end of an activity-packed day and they’ll have less trouble sleeping.