Sleep is vital for adults. But it is even more critical for developing brains. Children require upwards of ten hours of sleep per night, even into their teenage years, to make all the necessary neural connections.
Parents know the theory: the more sleep their kids get, the better. But they don’t always know how to put it into practice. That’s what we explore in this post.
Develop A Plan
The first step is to develop a plan — that is, find a way to adapt sleep routines to your children’s needs. It could be something as simple as reading them a book or putting on the white noise machine if you live in the middle of town.
The next step is to decide on the sequence of events. Most parents do something like:
- Put on pajamas
- Brush teeth
- Read a story together
- Lights off
When you follow a pattern like this every day, nobody is in any doubt about what to do next. Plans require rehearsal and communication with children. They won’t naturally want to follow a set sequence unless you map one out for them.
Spend Time Together
Children tend to become unsettled at around bedtime because they want more attention from you, their caregiver. It’s a good idea, therefore, to spend a little time with your child, talking to them about their day, asking them questions, and getting them to speak their mind. This can go on for a few minutes, not more. If it goes on for longer than that, then your child might use it as a way to delay going to bed in the future.
Prepare The Bedroom For Sleep
Thanks to the myriad of distractions in the modern world, relatively few bedrooms are set up for sleep. Kids spend a lot of time in a hyper stimulating environment that can make it challenging for them to drift off.
First, make sure that they have comfortable, beautiful divan beds in their rooms. Going to bed should be a pleasurable experience.
Next, remove all electronics and toys from their bedroom. These should remain in the family areas. Smartphones can be particularly harmful at night because the blue light they emit prevents the brain from shutting down.
Sometimes, children will struggle to get to sleep at night. Don’t put it down to bad behavior. Instead, try to get to the bottom of it. Often, it is night terrors or nightmares driving their wakefulness, not a desire to stay up all night.
While it might seem like your child will never settle down, just remind yourself that it is a phase and it will pass. Eventually, they will become just like you — someone who appreciates their sleep and is willing to go to bed at a certain time each night to get it.
Eat At The Right Times
Lastly, make sure that you don’t feed your child a large meal right before bed. Ideally, you want to leave two or three hours between their final bite of the day, and their head hitting the sack.