As a parent after the hard day’s job you get home all tired desiring a good night rest only to remember that you have a child who sees bedtime as a battle. This in itself can be frustrating! Everyone at some point may experience difficulty sleeping- it is not just an adult problem. Inability to sleep can be medically termed Insomia. However this challenge cuts across all ages and gender.
Let’s assume you have tried all you can and the child does not bulge. These 10 tips will help you win the fight against bedtime woes.
Everyone Goes to Bed at The Same Time
When it is time to go to bed, ensure everyone gets involved. Do not just send the children off to bed without you also going to bed. Once it is bedtime, then everyone goes to bed. Staying awake while putting the children in bed makes it difficult for the children to get some sleep. You all go to bed at the same time to ensure the children sleep on time, once you are assured they are settled in, you can then move on to do some other things.
Allow Your Child Go By The Bedtime Pattern
Ideally children need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night, but sometimes sleep needs and patterns differ. Most children have patterns that don’t change much, no matter the days’ hardship, stress or whatever may have been done. An early riser will still get up early even if you put them to bed later and one who sleeps really late won’t usually fall asleep until their body is ready. Know how much sleep your child needs in order to wake up refreshed and you can set an appropriate bedtime.
Always Prepare Them For Bed Every Night
This is especially important for infants, toddlers and children in general. Doing specific things before bed, such as bath and story time- this can be called bed time routines. Preparing them for bed is comforting and relaxing. It sets the perfect bedtime atmosphere, it makes them sleep deep all night long. As you continue in this, the child’s body automatically starts to become sleepy at the beginning of their routine.
The TV Should be off at Least Two Hours Before Bedtime
Research has shown that the light rays from the screen of electronic devices e.g television, phone, tablet, computer etc. interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is an important piece of sleep-wake cycles. When melatonin levels are at their highest, most people are sleepy and ready for bed. Just a half an hour of TV before bed can mess with that enough to keep your child up an extra two hours!
Reduce Play Times Before Bedtime
Another hormone that plays a role in sleep is cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.” Play times are high over-excited times. When cortisol levels are high, your child’s body won’t be able to shut down and go to sleep. Ensure bedtime activities are calm, the lights dim (sometimes it is not advisable that the lights are off, most children are scared of the dark), and the environment quiet will help avoid excess amount of cortisol in your child’s system.
Make the Bedroom Comfortable for Sleep
Too many toys can make it so difficult to put your child to sleep. Clear the bed, use warm clean sheets, soft pillows, room-darkening shades, well ventilated room and relative quiet will not only help your child differentiate between day and night but set the right atmosphere/temperature, making it easier to fall asleep.
Help Your Child Deal With Night Fears/Scares
Some children experience inability to sleep as a result of bedtime fears/fear of the dark. Instead of dismissing bedtime fears, address them. If simple reassurance doesn’t work, you can try buying a special toy to stand guard at night or spray the room with “monster spray” before bed. (A can of air freshener could pass for the monster spray…lol)
Change The “Sleep” Mindset
Just like adults, kids can have trouble shutting their brains off for the night. Most children dread the night because of bedtime, they see sleep as punishment as it prevents them from being active/playful. Instead of increasing that anxiety by insisting it is time to sleep, consider focusing more on the idea of relaxation and calming your child’s body down. Talk to your child, make him/her see the importance of bedtime. In fact go the extra mile to strike a deal say for instance more sleep equals more fun times etc.
After following these tips and your child continues to have trouble falling or staying asleep during the night, you may begin to consider the possibility of a sleep disorder. Talk to a paediatrician about your concerns, this will get the child the needed help.