Kids don’t care about sleep the way we do. They would rather play, watch tv, or do anything active than sleep. Kids, having more stamina and energy, are likely to want to use this and thus, stay up way past their bedtime. When in fact, kids need more sleep than us! Ever notice that your kid is up before you each morning? They do not care much for sleep. For many families, every night is a battle for bed. You’ve tried everything from singing to him, reading a story, letting him watch a movie before bed, and giving him extra time to play Minecraft, in hopes of him agreeing to go to bed.
Here’s a familiar situation.
It’s 7:45 pm, and Johnny’s bedtime is 8 pm. He’s wide awake; no signs of sleepiness, and he is glued to the iPad. “Johnny, it’s time to start getting ready for bed!” Johnny doesn’t look up from his Minecraft game, doesn’t respond, and actually even pretends he didn’t hear you. You raise your voice and repeat again, “Johnny, it’s time to start getting ready for bed.” Same thing. He doesn’t budge. You grab the iPad from his hands and guide him to the bathroom where he refuses to brush his teeth. Fine, you let him skip it tonight; it’s not worth the fight. You tuck him in bed, and he looks more awake than he does during the day. You leave the room and boom, like clockwork, Johnny is in your room saying he can’t sleep ten minutes later. This happens four more times. Finally, it’s midnight, and Johnny falls asleep. Who cares that you have to be up at 5 am. Johnny doesn’t!
Help Your Children Enjoy Bedtime
I want to share with you a few tips of mine to help facilitate sleep for your children.
1. Write down their bedtime routine.
Yes, just like I have mentioned before about schedules, same goes for bedtime. Write it down. Visual cues are winners. Make a list of what Johnny needs to do before bed. Then help implement small interventions to allow for sleepiness to step in.
2. Some “do-nots” before bed:
- Turn off all electronics. Do this thirty minutes before bedtime. The electronics light actually tells our brain that it is day time, allowing children to feel less sleepy.
- Don’t do homework right before bed. Again, this keeps the brain in action and in thinking mode. If possible, try to do homework prior to dinner time.
- Try to avoid expending a lot of energy right before bed. Avoid anything that causes your child to be hyperactive, such as music, games, or energy-expending activities. We all have heard that it’s never a good idea to exercise right before bed as it releases energy-boosting hormones. This is the last thing we need happening at bedtime.
- Avoid rocking or signing before bedtime (they will come to expect this in order to fall asleep).
3. Some “to-do’s” before bed.
- Use herbal tea (if age-appropriate) such as chamomile.
- Don’t be afraid of melatonin, but please check with your doctor before using.
- Use a diffuser and diffuse relaxing essential oils such as lavender.
- Take a bath. The warm steam and water are extremely soothing.
- Add something fun to the routine such as letting your child read you a story or tell you something about their day.
- Keep the room as dark as possible.
- Keep the air cool.
- Incorporate meditation (use guided meditations found on Youtube.com).
- Start a gratitude list with your child.
4. Establish a routine.
This is the best way to incorporate a better bedtime transition. Here is an example of my favorite bedtime routine for children:
- 5:00 pm-6:00 pm- Homework
- 6:00 pm-6:30 pm- Dinner
- 6:30 pm-7:00 pm- Free time
- 7:00 pm-7:30 pm- Bath time (add drops of Lavender), brush teeth, other hygiene routines
- 7:30 pm-8:00 pm- Electronics off, in bed, dim lights, diffusing essential oils, drinking tea, listening to calming music, a guided meditation or story, and wrapping the night up with a gratitude list (parent and child do this together)
- 8:00 pm- Lights out, bedtime
Make It Happen
Seems simple, right? It is. It just takes some practice. You are used to chaos before bed. Give this routine a try for a week and see what happens. Make sure to stick with the times; children will adapt easily over time. Write the routine down in an easily accessible place, such as the fridge, their mirror in their bedroom, or on their bathroom wall. Make sure they can easily see, read, and understand the routine before implementing it.
Bonus Tip for Older Children
If your child wakes up in the middle of the night, don’t rush him back to bed. Allow him to pace his room, sit at his desk and read, or grab some water. Rushing him back to bed will just make him/her more anxious about not being able to sleep. Allow for some time to “move” their energy outwards by letting them move around a bit and tire out.
Buy and use a salt lamp next to your child’s bed. Pink Himalayan Salt Lamps have powerful benefits such as: “making your indoor air cleaner, reducing allergies, and improving mood.” It can also be used as a dim nightlight for your children.