Stick to a Schedule: Regular bedtimes and wake times are important when it comes to building good sleep habits. Typically, children need eight to 13 hours of sleep, depending on their age and body. Keep a sleep journal to figure out the right amount for your child; record the hours of sleep and their behavior during the day for a week. Once you’ve settled on the right length of sleep time, be sure to consistently wake your child around the same time—even on the weekends. Allowing them to “sleep-in” on certain days can disrupt their internal clock, or circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep at night and stick to their weekday sleep schedule.
Create a Routine: Children thrive on routine. Doing the same things around the same time each night, like taking baths (add organic lavender bath bubbles for an extra calming effect), putting out clothes for the morning or reading together helps your child feel comfortable and relaxed. And keep your routine simple so it can be easily repeated by your partner or caregiver when needed.
Limit Screen Time: Research shows that overexposure to artificial light, specifically blue light, inhibits the production of melatonin, the hormone crucial to sleep cycles. Many kids (and adults—yes you!) are so devoted to their tablets, cell phones, computer screens and TVs that it may seem difficult to enforce this rule. But it’s worth it; even a half-hour of lost melatonin production could mean an extra two hours spent struggling to fall asleep. Power down your family’s devices at least an hour before bed and spend time talking, reading or playing quietly.
Keep it Cool: Experts recommend to keep bedrooms slightly cool at night to set the stage for deeper, uninterrupted sleep. So turn that thermostat down in the evening to around 70 degrees and dress your child appropriately so they’re still comfortable if blankets get kicked off during the night.
Snack it Up: Heard the old advice about drinking a glass of warm milk before bedtime? Well, times have changed and there are other healthier, sleep-inducing snacks to choose from, like bananas, Greek yogurt or organic turkey. These all contain tryptophan, a sleep-triggering amino acid. A small snack, one to two hours before bed, leaves kids satisfied before they hit the hay. And remember, bedtime is no time for sweets. Fend off late night sugar highs by avoiding all grains and sugars!
Try Something Different: If traditional bedtime tips just aren’t working for your child, consider introducing something new to your routine, like a sequence of stress-releasing yoga poses. Yoga before bedtime allows your child to shift focus from a busy day. Kids of all ages may fall asleep easier and sleep deeper due to the calming benefits of yoga postures, and the associated relaxation and breathing techniques. Look for a kids’ yoga class at your local park district or fitness facility and then incorporate some poses into your bedtime routine.