Children need quality sleep on a consistent basis to support their health and growth. Sleep is actually one of the most important factors in their overall development: intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Therefore, it’s crucial that kids get enough sleep – especially when their restless nights are keeping mom and dad awake too. Follow these tips to help kids of all ages get the sleep they need.
Know What’s Healthy
Before doing anything else, you need to determine how much sleep your kid should actually be getting. Generally, toddlers need around 12 hours of sleep, children 3-12 need 10-12 hours, and teenagers need 8-9 hours. Figure out what time they need to be up for school or activities, then adjust their bedtime so that they have time to get enough sleep. But not so much time that they’re lying in bed before fatigue sets in.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Once you determine the right time to wind things down at night, follow the same routine. That routine might include bathing, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and reading a story. Routines help establish healthy sleep patterns that the body begins to recognize as a signal it’s time to sleep. For kids especially, turning bedtime into something familiar and predictable makes it easier to get to sleep night after night.
Do Something Relaxing
High-energy activities right before bed only make it harder to sleep. So does looking at a TV, phone, tablet, or computer screen. Kids benefit from doing something relaxing once they’re ready for bed but not quite able to sleep. That could mean listening to some music, reading a book, writing in a journal, or practicing a breathing or relaxation exercise. Younger kids may only need 10-20 minutes to relax, but for older kids, it might take 30 minutes to an hour to feel ready to sleep. Factor this into the bedtime routine.
Stick to a consistent bedtime and sleep routine every night as much as possible. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time (approximately) on the weekends, and also during school breaks and family vacations. That doesn’t mean kids can’t ever stay up late or get up early, but you should try to avoid changes as much as possible.
Provide a Sense of Safety
Many kids experience some kind of anxiety about being alone in the dark. A night light can help, as can positive reinforcement when your child displays courage or independence. You can also help the situation by avoiding scary media – TV, movies, video games, bedtime stories. And while it may be tempting to let your child crawl in bed with you whenever they feel scared, it’s important for kids to get comfortable sleeping on their own. It’s a life skill they need to learn as early as possible.
Upgrade the Bedroom
Children have the same sleep needs as anyone else: a dark and quiet space that’s a comfortable temperature and free of distractions. Make sure your kid’s room isn’t brighter or noisier than you realize, especially if it’s adjacent to a living area. And like everyone else, kid needs a quality mattress to sleep on. Kids outgrow mattresses just like their clothes, meaning they might be sleeping on something too small. Kid’s mattresses wear out faster too, especially when it’s a hand me down, so it could be also uncomfortable and lacking support. If the mattress is more than 6-8 years old, consider a replacement.
Eat a Good Dinner
If your child doesn’t eat enough at dinner, it can leave them feeling hungry and uncomfortable when it’s time to sleep. Conversely, if they eat large portions of unhealthy foods, they could have digestive distress around bedtime. Try to get your child to eat enough good foods that he or she doesn’t need a snack at night. But if you think a snack might help, choose something like a piece of fruit or a glass of milk instead of something sugary or heavy.
Use the Day Strategically
The most reliable way to get your kid to sleep at night is getting them to burn off lots of energy during the day. Encourage active play, and go outside whenever possible to get exposure to natural light. Sunlight during the day helps your child’s internal body clock register the passage of time and activate the desire to sleep at night. You don’t have to avoid naps, just make sure they don’t go longer than your child needs, even if they would like to sleep more.
Sit ‘n Sleep – For Everything Your Child Needs
When you need a child’s mattress, visit one of the 38 Sit ‘n Sleep locations throughout Southern California. We have options to suit kids of all ages and budgets at every price point. And if it leads to better sleep for your child and more peaceful nights for mom and dad, it’s certainly a good investment. Spend some time exploring our website to learn more about our mattress inventory and our sleep accessories. Or feel free to call us at 800-908-0354.