Kids & ZZZ’s: How to Improve Your Child’s Sleep
Kids need more sleep than adults — but many don’t get the rest that they need. A lot of factors can disrupt your child’s sleep pattern, including nightmares, overstimulation, and discomfort.
And missing too much sleep can negatively affect their growth and development.
Luckily, there are many different ways to combat poor sleep habits in children, and help your kids get a good night’s sleep.
Healthy Eating Helps Healthy Sleeping
A balanced meal can eliminate common sleep disturbances for children, like upset stomach or late-night hunger, but it can also have a surprising impact on a child’s mental preparation for sleep. Try to create a meal, or late-night snack, that includes some of the following foods in order to improve your child’s sleep quality.
Almonds can help reduce stress and boost the sleep hormone, melatonin, which regulates our bodies’ circadian rhythms, or “sleep clocks”. Similarly, kiwis have been found to help people fall asleep much faster, likely due to their content of serotonin which helps regulate the sleep cycle. Other foods that can benefit sleep include fatty fish, chamomile tea, white rice, milk, and bananas.
Maintain a Bedtime Routine
Routines are important for many aspects of a child’s life, but they’re especially important when it comes to bedtime. Having certain rituals that help a child prepare mentally and physically for bed makes it easier for them to fall asleep and perform their best in the morning. This will make bedtime much less stressful while also providing some time for you and your child to bond.
One of the most crucial aspects of a bedtime routine is consistency. While you may want to treat your kid on the weekends with a late-night movie, it could disrupt their sleep schedule for the next few days. Work to enforce a strict bedtime on all nights so your child’s body will recognize bedtime and respond accordingly: with yawns and droopy lids. If you have to adjust bedtime, try to transition to it slowly by moving it forward or backward just 15 minutes every night. This will help your child stay on schedule without feeling shocked into a new routine.
For Better Sleep, Unwind Before Bed
With unmatchable energy, getting into the right state of mind for sleep is a struggle for most kids. Therefore, it’s important to help them unwind before bed. Taking some time to relax at night can lower your child’s stress levels and heart rate, which can make a huge difference in their ability to fall asleep.
To help your child get sleepy, avoid stimulating TV shows or video game
s at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, start some family traditions with relaxing activities. Try reading stories, meditating, or listening to some calming music with your kids. Just make sure to keep blue LED screens out of the night’s activities because they can interrupt your child’s, as well as your own, circadian rhythms.
Create a Relaxing Bedroom Environment
Once your kids finally get into bed, the struggle to fall asleep has only just begun. Children’s bedrooms must be a sanctuary to them, a comforting and warm place where they feel safe, even though they’re separated from you.
There are a few ways to achieve this. Physically, there are some obvious furnishings that can help make your child’s room comfier. Give them a few stuffed animals, outfit their bed with cozy pillows, and plug in a nightlight if they need one. You should also treat the room as an emotional retreat for your child. Avoid sending them to their bedroom as punishment so they can begin to view it as their safe place. These small changes will help them feel comfortable enough to fall asleep, and stay asleep, throughout the night.