Just about every parent has at least one tale of woe when it comes to getting their child to sleep. For some families, bedtime is a battle, with lots of crying, pleading and outright refusals to hit the hay.
Children’s sleep problems can manifest in a variety of ways. Some kids fight bedtime tooth and nail before finally surrendering — and leaving mom and dad exhausted in the process. Other children go to bed just fine, but then get up continuously throughout the night.
If you constantly struggle to get your child to sleep, or you wake up with a toddler in your bed several times a week, it’s a good idea to tackle your sleep issues head on. Here’s a step by step guide to ensuring everyone in your household gets the rest they need.
5 Steps for Solving Your Child’s Sleep Problems
Rule Out Sleep Disorders
Most people associate sleep disorders with adults, but children can suffer from them, too. In fact, about 25 percent of kids will experience behavioral insomnia at some point during childhood. In kids, symptoms of insomnia can include sleepiness during the day, irritability, behavioral problems in school and hyperactivity.
Other childhood sleep disorders include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and night terrors. If you suspect your child is sleeping poorly due to a sleep disorder, it’s important to see a pediatrician or childhood sleep specialist.
Make Sure Your Child Is Getting Adequate Sleep
It may sound obvious, but it’s also important to ensure your child is getting the appropriate amount of sleep for her age. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), children need much more sleep than adults. Furthermore, shaving even just 30 or 60 minutes off your child’s bedtime can have a negative impact on their daily activities and behavior.
The NSF recommends a certain amount of sleep depending on your child’s age:
- Newborns (0 to 3 months) - 14 to 17 hours
- Infants (4 to 11 months) - 12 to 15 hours
- Toddlers (1 to 2 years) - 11 to 14 hours
- Preschoolers (3 to 5 years) - 10 to 13 hours
- School-age children (6 to 13 years) - 9 to 11 hours
- Teenagers (14 to 17 years) - 8 to 10 hours
- Young adults (18 to 25 years) - 7 to 9 hours
Keep track of how long your child sleeps on an average night. If you’re falling short of the recommended amount of sleep for his age, you might need to adjust bedtime or add a nap to your child’s schedule.
Ensure Your Child Has a Comfortable Sleep Environment
Quantity of sleep is important, but sleep quality is also key when it comes to making sure your child gets a good night’s rest. Think about the last time you tried to fall asleep on a humid summer night, or a bad hotel experience that left you tossing and turning. A poor quality sleep environment can wreak havoc on sleep — something that’s true for both adults and children.
The good news is there are several things you can do to ensure your child’s sleep environment is inviting and soothing. Even better, you don’t need a big budget to create a cozy sleep haven. The NSF suggests:
Use the Right Light for Nightlights - Bright or white nightlights can interfere with sleep patterns. Instead, opt for a red light, which won’t distract the brain as much before sleep.
Try Blackout Shades or Curtains - Children — and adults! — sleep best in a cool, dark environment. If the sun rises brightly in your child’s bedroom window, blackout shades or curtains may help her sleep longer.
Use White Noise - Soft, subtle white noise from a fan or sound machine can improve a child’s sleep environment — just make sure the noise isn’t too loud or harsh.
Clear Out the Clutter - Store toys, books and clothes before bedtime. If your child is old enough, ask him to help put items away as part of their bedtime routine.
Buy a Supportive Mattress and Pillow - Invest in a quality mattress that’s supportive. Your child should also have a pillow that’s appropriate for their size. Many children also like to sleep with a weighted blanket, which may help reduce insomnia and help them sleep longer.
- Give Them a Special Toy or Blanket - It’s normal and healthy for kids to sleep with a favorite toy, blanket or plushie. At SensaCalm, we often recommend our Peaceful Pals weighted plush toys, which are great for sensory seekers.
With a few simple changes, you can make your child’s sleep environment so inviting, they actually look forward to bedtime.
Eliminate Nighttime Distractions
Does your family rush to complete homework just before bed? Are you eating dinner on the go as you travel to and from sports practices? Do your kids beg for just a few minutes’ more television or screen time before bed?
If these situations sound familiar, nighttime distractions might be preventing your child from getting restful and restorative sleep. The blue light emitted from computer screens and similar devices can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythm. Harvard researchers say one of the worst things you can do before bed is actually lie in bed with a phone or tablet near your face.
Behavioral health experts at the University of Chicago recommend putting away tablets, phones and other electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed and preferably earlier. For young kids and teens, you might even need to charge their devices away from their bedrooms — otherwise, they might be tempted to check their texts or social feed close to bed or early in the morning.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Children thrive on a schedule, and bedtime is no exception. When you establish a bedtime routine, your child knows what to expect when it’s time to sleep. There are several things you can do to set an easy, worry-free routine that’ll have your child falling asleep on time every night.
Tips include giving your child a warm bath, reading a story together, talking about their day and even doing some light stretches or gentle exercise with your little one. Once you set a routine, it’s important to stick to it. Consistency will let your child know exactly what to expect when it’s time to wind down for the night.
SensaCalm Weighted Blankets for Kids and Teens
At SensaCalm, we make weighted blankets for toddlers, kids and teens in a variety of fabrics, including fun designs kids love. Learn more about how to buy here. Order your custom weighted blanket today, or choose from our wide selection of ready-to-ship finished weighted blankets.
Questions? Give us a call at 855-736-7222 or use our contact form to get in touch with one of our helpful team members.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy or treatment.