Every parent knows how challenging it is to get a child to go to bed and fall asleep. Children’s bodies don’t abide by the clock, and bedtime is almost always an ordeal.
It can be tempting to let your kids stay up until they fall asleep, but science says that’s not a good idea. When children don’t get enough sleep, they become irritable and have a hard time controlling their emotions. Kids who don’t get enough sleep are likelier to be overweight and have behavioral and learning difficulties.
Regular bedtimes may not be easy to enforce but they are necessary for the health and cognitive development of your children.
What Time Should Children Go To Bed?
There is no hard and fast rule for bedtime because sleep needs and patterns vary from one child to another. However, if you know how much sleep your child needs and what time they need to be up, you can easily work out the appropriate bedtime.
Typically, toddlers need about 12 to 14 hours of sleep daily, whereas school-age children need 9 to 11 hours. These are only general guidelines but with time you will be able to figure out just how much sleep your child needs.
Regular Schedules And Bedtime Rituals
Kids thrive on routines, so doing the same things before going to bed each night creates the right atmosphere for sleep. Although every bedtime routine is unique, it usually includes taking a bath, brushing teeth and putting on PJ’s. The routine should be no longer than 30 minutes (excluding bath time), and parents should be vigilant about ending the routine when it’s time to sleep.
Turn Off The Screens An Hour Before Bedtime
The light from the TV, computer and phone screens interferes with melatonin production, so turn them off at least an hour before bedtime. Your kids will plead for “just one more show” or “just one more game”, but remember that an additional half hour of screen time can keep your child awake for two additional hours.
Create The Right Atmosphere For Sleep
Stress and high cortisol levels can interfere with sleep, so stressful and exciting activities probably shouldn’t be occurring before bedtime.
Turn down the volume, dim the lights and be boring! Young kids may not grasp the concept of bedtime but they can definitely tell when mommy and daddy don’t want to play. Start acting calm and “boring” at least two hours before bedtime so your kids will have an easier time falling asleep.
Make Sure Your Child Is Comfortable
Bedtime can make your child feel a sense of separation from the rest of the family, so the bedroom should be designed to make him or her feel safe and secure. A favorite blanket, teddy bear and soft, warm sheets will soothe your child, making him or her feel safer and in control.
Lastly, keep the bedroom cool and the child’s feet warm. This may seem contradictory but it helps to distribute blood and heat evenly throughout the body thereby inducing sleep.
For many parents, bedtime can be a real struggle but with these tips it should be less of a challenge. Experiment with one or two of these recommendations to help ensure your child gets the sleep they need.