5 Tips to improve your child’s bedtime routine
You can set your child up for future sleep success by creating a relaxing (and consistent) bedtime routine. Your child will feel more secure, comforted, and relaxed as they get ready for some much-needed sleep.
So how do you create a good sleep routine for your child? Start with their sleep schedule.
What should my child’s bedtime be?
During sleep, high amounts of human growth hormone (HGH) are released in children as their brains and bodies develop at a phenomenal rate. To ensure they’re getting enough sleep, your children’s bedtime and sleep schedule should be appropriate for their age and development stage.
Toddlers between the ages of 3 and 5 should get 10-13 hours of sleep. Kids between 6 and 13 require 9-11 hours of sleep every night. If you have teenagers aged 14 through 17, they need 8-9 hours of sleep.
5 Tips for a better bedtime routine for children
In some households, bedtime can be a battleground of negotiation and arguments. It doesn’t have to be a war, and with these 5 tips, you’ll be able to establish a bedtime routine that your children will enjoy and look forward to.
1. Recognise sleep problems
The best way to nip sleep problems in the bud is by regularly checking up on your child to see how they sleep through the night. You can do this by dropping in to see if they are getting a night of uninterrupted sleep. Speak to them about their daytime activities to see if they are alert and focused at school. Typically, sleep problems will manifest as behavioural issues at school or daytime fatigue. If you suspect your child is having trouble sleeping, speak to your doctor for help with sleep issues like insomnia and sleep anxiety.
2. Stick to a consistent schedule
A consistent schedule means going to sleep at the same time and waking up every morning at the same time. If you change bedtimes often, your child may struggle to sleep or nap when they are tired. The only time when you could be adaptable with sleep routines is over holidays or birthdays.
3. Avoid sugary food before bed
Together with caffeine and spicy foods, sugar is a no-go for children before bedtime. Foods packed with sugar lead to the release of glucose in the blood which signals alertness to the rest of the body. You’ll have a jumping jack on your hands at bedtime, spoiling your efforts to get your child to sleep. Know which foods to avoid before bed so your child can sleep without interruption.
4. Create a calm sleep environment
Like adults, children find sleeping in a room that is calm and comfortable, soothing to them. Create a quiet and relaxing atmosphere for sleep by ensuring the temperature isn’t too hot or cold. Adequate ventilation will ensure your child breathes fresh air through the night. If your child prefers sleeping with a lamp at their bedside, invest in a nightlight that won’t hinder their melatonin production.
5. Cuddly toys for comfort
For children, the idea of monsters, ghosts, or other scary creatures can induce real fear and make it tough to sleep. Allay their fears by encouraging them to sleep with comfort items, like soft toys that they can cling to for reassurance. The feeling of having a toy next to them can make a difference in how comforted and safe they feel.
Why is a bedtime routine important for children?
Research shows that a bedtime routine prepares a child for sleep and influences their behaviour during the day. A routine is essential in developing positive behaviours, so your child can function at their best at home and school. A disruption to the circadian rhythm caused by irregular bedtimes disturbs physical and mental functioning. Studies found that children with no structured sleep routine experienced slower brain development, affecting them later in life.
The good news is that if your child hasn’t had a consistent bedtime, by making changes to their sleep schedule today, the negative effects of irregular bedtimes can be reversed. As a parent, you’ll benefit from the warmth and connection established during a bedtime routine while your child will get better sleep and be more focused at home and school.