Tips for good sleep hygiene for kids of all ages
You can help your children with getting a good night’s sleep and waking up rested and full of energy in the morning. No matter the age, bedtime generally shouldn’t vary more than 2 hours between weeknights and the weekend, as to not disturb the internal body clock. Below are a few sleep issues typical for different age groups and tips how to resolve them. Some of them work well for kids of all ages and even adults alike!
- Too tired to snooze. Toddlers tend to overtire easily, especially if they miss their daytime nap or it’s cut short. Settle them to sleep as soon as they start showing off signs of weariness and grumpiness. Otherwise, they might be too tired to fall asleep later on.
- No sleep routine. Establishing a consistent evening routine for dinner, playtime, bath, and settling down in bed, can help toddlers with nodding off. Always incorporate some time for them to wind down – it could be e.g. a warm, soothing bath, singing lullabies or reading bedtime stories.
School children’s sleep
- Heavy meals. A full stomach makes it difficult to have a good night’s sleep. Avoid serving substantial, rich dishes in the 2-3 hours before designated sleep time. If children are still hungry at bedtime, a light snack like fruit or cracker or a glass of milk is a good solution.
- Lack of exercise. Staying fit helps with better sleep. Encourage your child to spend time outside, whether it’s participating in school sports, riding a bike, swimming or other outdoor activities.
- Daytime naps. From the age of five, children should not nap during the day, or it may disturb their sleep patterns. Avoiding naps after 3 pm will help with putting them to sleep in the evening.
- Unfriendly sleep environment. Children often resist going to bed if they don’t feel at ease in their bedroom or associate the time spent there with punishment. Make them comfortable by airing out the room an hour before sleep, add playful bed sheets, soft bedtime toys and a dim nightlight.
- Caffeine. Tea, coffee and caffeinated soft drinkscan keep kids awake all night long. Limit their quantity during the day and introduce a cut-off time in the afternoon/evening.
- Electronic devices. TVs, laptops and mobile phones provide endlessexcitement that can make it difficult to sleep. Keep the devices out of your child’s bedroom and make sure they avoid stimulating games, movies and TV in the 2 hours before bedtime.
If your child has persisting problems with sleeping at night, you may consider consulting with a paediatric sleep specialist.