A Bedtime Routine Helps Children Sleep Better. 5 Tips to Get Your Routine Started
Your child’s sleep habits are either a nightmare or no big deal, there’s rarely any in-between. If your child isn’t sleeping well on a regular basis, it will significantly disrupt both their lives and yours. Numerous studies show that good sleeping habits benefit children in many ways, from lower levels of obesity to improved behavior and school performance. But good sleep habits don’t just happen by magic. It’s something that requires some intention on your part. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start developing a bedtime routine.
How to Develop a Bedtime Routine
Make Sleep a Priority and Be Consistent
The whole family needs to have good sleep habits—yes, even you. It’s important to stick to regular bedtimes and wake-up times, regardless of the family member. You’ll know it’s working because your child will fall asleep within 15 minutes and wake up easily, too.
Many of us look forward to weekends as a chance to catch up on sleep after robbing ourselves of enough rest during the week. But it’s important to stick to the sleep routine every day. That means you still stick to the same bedtime on weekends, holidays, and even on vacation. The bright side: such a consistent schedule means there won’t ever be a need to catch up on sleep.
Respect the Schedule
Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule will take some dedication. It can be tempting to ignore the sleep schedule just one night a week — like if there’s one night a week your spouse works late. While occasionally granting permission to stay up late for a special event can be okay, it’s important that you don’t let it become a frequent occurrence. It may be a drag to leave a party a bit early to get your kids to bed on time. But your sacrifice now is more likely to pay off in having kids who know how to sleep well later.
Develop a Specific Bedtime Ritual
One of the most important parts of a bedtime routine is the ritual that goes along with it. Doing the same things every night, in the same order, creates a clear signal that it’s time to wind down and move toward bedtime. After doing them consistently over a short period of time, these predictable actions become expected. Many common parts of a bedtime routine include taking a bath or washing his or her face, brushing teeth, having a small snack, and reading a bedtime story.
Certain habits promote or inhibit good sleep. Just as we know that having caffeine too late in the day can wreak havoc on our own sleep, it can do the same to our kids. Today’s kids consume more caffeine than they did in previous generations and pediatricians recommend that kids avoid caffeine until age 18. However, if your child does have caffeine, at least reduce their daily intake and make sure consumption is only early in the day.
Limit your child’s exposure to TV and electronics, both of which can interfere with sleep. Make sure your child gets regular physical activity, also early in the day. Kids still need the same things as they always did: lots of play time, preferably outdoors in the fresh air. (Here in Houston, outdoor play becomes less realistic in the hot summer!) Burning off excess physical energy has a long list of benefits, including that it leads to better sleep.
Seek Help When Necessary
Some kids have trouble developing or adapting to consistent sleep patterns, particularly if the habits weren’t implemented early. Rather than live with the massive frustration, seek help. Start with your child’s pediatrician first. A wellness exam can rule out any physical conditions that could be interfering with sleep.
If the pediatrician says everything looks good, you may want to consult with a therapist as well. Child therapy can help to resolve underlying issues that may be disrupting your child’s sleep. Even changing something as simple as parental communication can help your child sleep better. Child therapy is always a good option to consider. Your commitment to helping your child be his or her healthiest and best self is a worthwhile investment.
To learn more about child therapy, click here, or contact one of our counselors to find out how therapists in Houston can help your Child. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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