Bedtime can often be the hardest time of the day for kids, and when the kids won’t go to sleep, parents can’t go to sleep either.
This is where sleep hygiene comes in. It’s a rather simple concept that includes any nighttime ritual and routine. Think about it like this: brushing your teeth and flossing are considered good dental hygiene habits that set you up for pearly white teeth, but failing to do so makes that perfect smile harder to achieve. Sleep hygiene works the same way. Good habits will make bedtime an easier process. Below, with the help of a licensed counselor from the Clinic at SaintA, Jacob Kulas LPC, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks to help the entire family thrive at bedtime.
Exercise is a recommendation for pretty much everything. Take the kids outside and let them play for 30 minutes. This reduces stress and tires them out, thus giving a better night’s sleep.
- Avoid Electronics
Begin winding down after dinner. Put away the video games and cell phones, turn off the TV and instead pick up an activity that doesn’t emit a bright light, like a book or puzzle. These electronic activities stimulate the brain, when one’s body really needs to calm down before bed.
- Make the bedroom comfy
Some kids like darkness, others prefer night lights or a sound machine, but the sleep environment plays a major role in falling asleep. Talk to your kiddo to see what makes them feel comfortable. Feeling safe and relaxed will make falling asleep much easier.
- Structure and consistency
Jacob notes this is the most important rule. “Pick a bedtime and stick with it,” he says. Of course, you can be flexible when necessary, but it works best to create a routine that a child can get used to.
- Talk to your kids
Every child is different. They know their bodies best, so it’s important to involve them in the discussion on their bedtime routine. Have a conversation to determine what steps you need to take at night.
So, you got the kids to bed, but a few hours or even minutes later, they wake up and want to crawl under the covers with you. What do you do?
First, remember the child just wants to be comforted, which is OK, but make sure they return to bed ASAP, because the longer they’re out, the harder it is to get them back in. Be gentle and walk them to their room. Ask if they need water or a hug. Then, tell them you’ll sit beside them until they fall back to sleep.
Try your best to not let them back into your bed because this develops a routine, and while routines are usually good, this one isn’t.
Remember, you’re not alone, so if bedtime is consistently an issue, talk to your child’s pediatrician. Melatonin may be an option in some cases.
Don’t forget about yourself
As a parent, your sleep is also valuable. Most of these tips will benefit you just as much as they benefit a child. For parents specifically, make sure you’re prioritizing self-care as often as possible. Drink more water instead of coffee, take a hot shower, watch your favorite film, or anything that makes you feel happy and relaxed.
Learn more about the clinic at SaintA here.
The Clinic at SaintA
Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.
8901 W. Capitol Dr., Milwaukee, Wi 53222
Please call 414.463.1880 and follow the prompts