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How To Help Your Kids Sleep Better (10 Tips for When Your Child Won’t Sleep
What time does your kid sleep at night? 8 pm? 10 pm?
Doctors and other health experts the world over recommend that kids get around 8 -12 hours of quality sleep every night, depending on how old they are. Getting inadequate sleep leads to sleep deprivation, which affects them in a number of ways.
Since getting to know this, I have adjusted my kids’ sleep patterns to ensure they get adequate hours of sleep for their ages (2 years and nearly 5).
You can find out how many hours your kids need to sleep each night using this sleep calculator. You just need to input their ages and it presents you with the specific sleep duration for them.
What Happens When Kids Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
As an adult, I know I get cranky, easily irritable, and have a hard time focusing throughout the day when I don’t get the recommended 7 -8 hours of sleep for adults. The same is true for kids. Kids get affected in so many ways when they are sleep-deprived.
Here are most of the signs you should look out for in your kids:
1) It affects their performance in school. Even one or two hours of sleep difference can make a huge difference in their school performance.
When a child is sleep-deprived, their brain goes into a sleep-like brainwave pattern which could make them inattentive or space out in class.
2) You’ll notice a sluggishness in her ability to focus on some tasks or recall what they are taught.
3) It can also affect their immune system by decreasing the cells which fight off infections while increasing the cells that create inflammation within the body, making them prone to diseases that weaken the body and mind.
4) Just as with adults, your child could also get cranky and easily irritated when she’s sleep-deprived
5) Getting inadequate sleep also promotes obesity in kids, so this is another thing you want to look out for.
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Why Kids Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
For you to help your kids sleep better, you would need to understand why they aren’t getting adequate sleep in the first place.
Some of the reasons why your kids don’t sleep well are out of their control, but well within yours, and making adjustments can start almost immediately.
Here are some of the more common ones you want to look out for:
1) Having Too Many Activities Packed Into The Day
Several years back when we were kids, we didn’t get hit with as much information as kids get these days. Now, schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and homework also eat into their hours, giving them less time to sleep.
2) Early School Start Time Is Yet Another Reason.
Kids having to wake up early on to prepare for school can also eat into their sleep time
3) As Well As Screen-related Distractions.
Gadgets like android phones, iPhones, iPad, and others can eat into your child’s sleep hours without you being aware of this.
How To Help Your Kids Sleep Better (10 Tips for When Your Child Won’t Sleep)
A good sleep pattern for kids entails not just getting the recommended hours of sleep for their age but ensuring this sleep is quality and uninterrupted.
Here are a few techniques that should help:
1) Include Certain Foods in Their Diet
Some foods help you sleep better, so you want to look into including these in their diets, especially close to bedtime.
Here are some foods that should help:
- Bananas: Bananas contain serotonin and melatonin, two compounds that will make your child feel good and encourage sleep.
These hormones work by helping your kids relax and have a well-regulated sleep-wake cycle.
- Milk: Milk contains tryptophan, the fundamental ingredient for the production of serotonin and melatonin.
Another food with a healthy dose of tryptophan is chicken, so including one or more chicken dishes in their diets will produce a similar result.
- Seafood: This is yet another good food option for a better sleep
Other equally great food options to consider include fatty fish like salmon, which has a good deposit of vitamin D, and walnut, which is rich in melatonin.
2) Keep Pre-Bed Activities Stress Free and Not Too Stimulating
Stimulating activities increase the stress hormone, cortisol, which promotes wakefulness.
If your child has a harder time falling asleep, or you just want to make them fall asleep much faster, then a change in their pre-bed activities should produce a positive result.
3) Develop a Routine and Stick to It
Kids do better when they follow a sleep routine, especially younger kids.
Developing one could start with setting the tone at the same time each day.
A few good tips you want to adopt would be lowering the lights at a certain time each day or using room darkening shades, turning on a diffuser to release some relaxing essential oils to calm everyone’s sense of smell, or just ensuring the kids get in bed an hour before their bedtime. They could pass this time carrying out relaxing activities like reading, drawing, or journaling.
4) Set The Tone
It also helps if you go through this routine yourself. Practice good sleep habits by going to bed at the same time each day and the kids are bound to emulate this.
5) Keep Nap Time Shorter for Older Kids
While the majority of kids stop napping at ages 3-5, some still nap beyond this age.
If your kid is over five and still naps, you want to keep this sleep time no longer than 20 to 25 minutes.
Also, try to discourage naps in late afternoons for kids already with difficulty falling aslleo since this could affect his ability to fall asleep easily at night.
6) Avoid Certain Drinks
Fuzzy or caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee, cola, or chocolate taken late in the afternoons or closer to their bedtimes can also affect sleep.
7) Allay Fears
Fear of the boogeyman in the closet or any other fear your child might have would likely keep them awake for longer.
You want to address this fear during the day so it doesn’t affect their sleep routine much later.
8) Reduce Play Time on Electronic Devices Two Hours Before Bedtime
You also want to look into your child’s playtime on electronic devices like phones, iPads, laptops at least two hours before they have to hit the bed as these devices produce a blue light that is known to interfere with sleep.
9) Give a Bath
A relaxing bath just before bedtime can also help ease your kid into sleep mode. This bath comes especially recommended if your kid is wired or stressed during the day.
Adding a cup of Epsom salt into the bathwater has also proven effective for helping kids unwind and relax quickly as it contains magnesium which may help reduce irritability and restlessness.
10) Calming Music
Playing a piece of calming music or a white noise can also help your kid relax and lure him to sleep pretty fast.
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