If you have young children, you know how important sleep is to their well-being. Unfortunately, getting your kids to bed on time and ensuring that they get enough sleep of the right quality can be incredibly challenging. There’s plenty you can do to promote healthier rest for the youngest members of your family. Try these six tips to get young children to sleep through the night.
Establish a Routine
Just like adults, kids have a natural sleep cycle that works best when synced with the light and dark patterns of the day. But developing that sleep-wake cycle takes time and can introduce sleep challenges, especially for infants. You can address this problem by establishing a sleep routine — i.e., consistent nap and bedtimes — and understanding the unique sleep needs that children have.
Create an Ideal Sleeping Environment
In addition to going to sleep at the same time each night, your children will benefit greatly from an ideal sleeping environment. This means a comfortable mattress and considerations like hypoallergenic sheets and pillows for kids who need them. But you also need to think about air quality. Changing air filters as recommended, investing in a humidifier to keep the air comfortable throughout the year, and routine HVAC maintenance are all critical components of an ideal sleeping environment.
Avoid Late Afternoon Naps
Afternoon naps can be a fantastic way to recharge and get through the rest of the day, but if you let your kids sleep too late or for too long in the afternoon, their rest may have an unintended and unfortunate effect. Your kids might feel too rested at their regular bedtime.
The best way to avoid this problem is to simply restrict naps after a certain time of the day. If your kids are too tired in the evening, some exercise or healthy snacks can help them feel more energized throughout the day and enable them to consistently reach their regular bedtime.
Limit Television and Electronic Device Usage Before Bed
Using TV and electronics before bed can make it harder for your kids to actually fall asleep. This is not only because of the distraction of entertainment; the light from these screens can also throw off the body’s internal clock and inhibit the production of a hormone needed to sleep.
Avoid Sugar and Caffeine
Kids are especially prone to the effects of sugar and caffeine. Especially in the afternoon and evening, it’s important that your children avoid foods and drinks that have these substances.
Follow a Sleep-Positive Diet
In addition to avoiding sugar and caffeine, there are plenty of other dietary changes you can make to promote a diet that encourages sleep. Some of the best food practices for this purpose include:
- Don’t eat spicy or fatty foods in the evening.
- Eat a heavier breakfast and a lighter dinner.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Get enough of the vitamins needed to sleep well.
Sleep is vital to all people, but it’s especially important to the health of young kids. Follow the above tips to help ensure that your children are not only sleeping enough each night but getting the quality sleep they need to be healthy at this critical stage of their development.