Almost 15% of kids and teenagers struggle to fall asleep or get a peaceful sleep at night in America. Parents are often unsure how they can help their children nod off and get a sound sleep. Pharmaceutical sleeping aids are discouraged for children as they can have significant side effects in the long run.
Parents can always use vitamins and other supplements marked for kids, but they should bear in mind that the FDA does not monitor them as closely as drugs. Fortunately, parents can introduce some changes and adjustments to the sleep environment to deal with the issue.
We have compiled a list of three strategies to ensure that your child gets better sleep at night. You need not implement all of them at the same time. Instead, try making a few small changes at first and give them time to work. It is also essential to adjust your approach according to your kid’s response to those changes.
Provide a Sleepy Environment
Optimizing the bedroom can be an essential aspect to ensure quick and peaceful sleep at night. You should make sure that the bedding is clean and hygienic. The body needs to cool down to prepare itself for sleep, so make sure that the bedroom has an optimal temperature of around 65°F.
If your child suffers from anxiety problems, you can use a weighted blanket. A weighted blanket for kids should ideally weigh about 5 lb. It will provide a feeling of getting hugged, which can solve the anxiety issues and help your child sleep peacefully.
Weighted blankets are also known to produce serotonin and melatonin essential for a deep and peaceful sleep. You should also ensure that the bedroom is free of excessive noise or light. If your child has trouble falling asleep, do not let a pet sleep in the same bed.
Your child might love to snuggle with the pet at night. However, its movements or noises at night can disrupt your kid’s sleep. But do not make the change too sudden, or it may cause anxiety for your child. Instead, put the pet’s bed right outside your child’s bedroom for peace of mind.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Try introducing a consistent bedtime routine so that your kid’s body and mind knows that it is time to go to sleep. An ideal bedtime routine should be around 20 minutes long and have three to four activities, like wearing sleeping clothes, brushing teeth, going to the bathroom, putting away things, or a short bedtime story.
The bedtime activities should be soothing so that they can eliminate uncertainties. These activities will set your kid’s natural biological clock and make him or her feel sleepy. Therefore, make sure that you stick to the same bedtime routines on school nights and weekends.
You should also implement a screen curfew time at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light from a TV or a smartphone screen can stimulate the brain and suppress melatonin. Also, keep all electronic devices out of the bedroom so that they do not interfere with your child’s sleep.
Make sure that your kid does not watch any scary or violent content before going to sleep. Also, avoid feeding anything with caffeine within six hours of bedtime, including soda or chocolate.
Overcome Bedtime Anxiety
If your child suffers from bedtime anxiety, there are several ways to manage that before he or she goes to bed. A bedtime story is one of the most common ways to make your child feel secure at night. You can also encourage your kids to write their thoughts in a journal to help them release their anxiety.
They can write whatever happened throughout the day to let their feelings out and feel more secure. It will also help your child focus on the positive things that happened during the day. You can also encourage your child to indulge in some mindfulness exercises like meditation or breathing.
You can do them together so that your kid feels motivated to take part in these exercises. It will calm the nervous system and reduce stress hormones in your child, allowing him or her to sleep better during the night.
If your child worries too much, you can set up a discussion time during the day to discuss their concerns with you so that you can guide them on ways to cope up. However, make sure that you have these sessions at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime.
We hope that you find these strategies useful and they help your kid sleep peacefully at night. However, if he or she continues to have trouble sleeping, you may have to see a pediatrician. Your child could be suffering from insomnia or sleep apnea.
The doctor may want to know about your child’s bedtime, length of sleep, and activities for the last few weeks. We would suggest that you maintain a sleep diary for your child. It will help the pediatrician identify patterns and address the problems accurately.