As a parent, making sure your kids are getting enough sleep is one of the most important things you can do for their health and dispositions. But as you probably know quite well, such a natural process comes with a variety of challenges — everything from kiddos who leave their rooms repeatedly during the night to tots who have a lot of trouble falling asleep.
Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to help ensure that your children are falling asleep easily and staying that way during the night. Here are a few ideas.
Limit computer games in the evening
When nighttime falls, your child’s brain — and yours — will produce hormones that will help them fall asleep. The glow from tablets and smartphones can confuse the brain and stop this important process. In addition, many games can rile kids up and either frustrate them or get them really excited about their progress, both of which can help prevent relaxing and sleeping. Keep TVs and other electronic devices out of your kids’ rooms and limit their use in the evening. Ideally, they should stop using electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
Invest in a new mattress
Another reason your little one might have difficulty falling and staying asleep is that her mattress is either too small, too old and/or lumpy. If your preschooler is sleeping in a toddler bed, chances are good that small mattress is feeling pretty cramped these days. And if you passed down an old guest room mattress to your child when he moved to a big boy bed, it might be less than comfy. Take your child shopping for a new mattress — a twin is a definitely a great size for both a young child, and there are plenty of adorable kid-themed bedding sets in this size. Have your child lay down on several brands to see which is the most comfortable, and then also check online retailers to see if they have the same or similar styles for a lower price.
Limit snacks and caffeine
While many kids enjoy a tasty bedtime snack, be careful about what you offer them. Steer clear of sugary options like cookies and candy and, if you let your kiddo have caffeine from time to time, don’t serve it for dinner or close to bedtime — this includes the beloved hot cocoa. Instead, choose protein/carb combos that form amino acids with a tryptophan effect; examples are toast with peanut butter, cheese with crackers and a half a tuna sandwich on wheat bread.
Make sure the room is dark and cool
Some kids have trouble staying asleep because their room is too hot and stuffy, their covers are too heavy and the room is too light. Buy your son or daughter some weather-appropriate jammies and make sure the sheets are light and breathable. While complete darkness is best for slumber, most little kids are not too keen on this idea; if this is the case a small night light that they pick out can help ease any fears of the dark. A quiet ceiling fan can also help keep air circulating and the air feeling cooler.
Photo Credit: Carl Jones