Top Ten Sleep Tips for Children
In this hub I provide my Top Ten Sleep Tips for Children which compliments the information given in my hub Natural Sleep Remedies for Children.
Top Tip 1 - Work With Your Family Doctor
Sleeping problems can cause serious health issues or can be a symptom of another underlying health problem. Children who don't get enough sleep simply don't thrive as they should. They are less happy, get ill more frequently, find learning more difficult and don't even grow as well as they should.
So it is important that you seek accurate and appropriate medical advice from your health care professional before embarking on any treatment to help improve your child's sleep.
The content of this article is provided for your informational purposes only and it is not intended to be used as a substitute for accurate and appropriate medical advice from your health care professional.
Top Tip 2 - Get the Bedroom Environment Right
During the day the bedroom needs to be light but at night it needs to be dark so the window blinds or drapes need to block out street lights and any LED displays on clocks should not be too bright. If your child is a clock watcher it might be wise to remove any clocks from the bedroom altogether. Other than being dark the bedroom also needs to be quiet, calm, and a comfortable temperature.
Top Tip 3 - Set a Regular Bedtime
Your child needs to develop a regular sleep routine where they go to bed and get up at the same time each day and every day including weekends and holidays. To do this you need to work out what time they will be getting up and then roughly work out how much sleep they need and work backwards to calculate the time they need to get to bed allowing a short period of time in bed to fall asleep. In my hub A Guide to Solving Your Child's Insomnia you will find a table which give approximate sleep needs based on your child's age.
Top Tip 4 - Wind Down Hour
Establish a routine for your child that does not include stimulating activities within an hour of bedtime such as watching TV, playing computer games or carrying out homework. Suitable activities for this period would be reading or listening to relaxing music. If your child is young enough it could include you reading them a bedtime story.
Top Tip 5 - Keep Bed for Sleeping
Keep bed for sleeping only and don't allow your child to read, watch TV or play video or computer games whilst in bed so that their body associates being in bed just with sleeping.
Top Tip 6 - Don't Toss and Turn
If your child can’t sleep after 20 minutes, it is better for them to get up and read or listen to music for 15-20 minutes, rather than to stay in bed and tossing and turning. After staying out of bed for 15-20 minutes they should return to bed and try to get to sleep again. If they still are unable to fall asleep the cycle can be repeated.
Top Tip 7 - Avoid Sugar and Caffeine
Avoiding coffee just before going to bed is an obvious tip but coffee isn't the only caffeinated drink. Tea but not herbal teas), colas, some non-cola pops and energy drinks also contain caffeine and they should be avoided for 4 to 6 hours before bedtime. The same should apply to sugar products if they make your child hyped up.
Top Tip 8 - Warm Milk and a Cookie
A glass of warm milk is considered to be one of the most effective sleep remedies for children. Milk contains melatonin which does have a track record for the successful treatment of insomnia but the melatonin in milk is 100% natural. Lactose-free, soy, almond and goat milk will also provide the same melatonin benefits. You can flavor the milk with cinnamon and honey if preferred. If your child doesn't like milk you can give them a weak chamomile herbal tea instead. The cookie helps to stave off any hunger pangs and helps making going to bed a more pleasurable experience. Here is a link to a recipe for Healthy OatMeal Cookies.
Top Tip 9 - Exercise
Encourage your child to exercise during the day as exercise has been shown to help improve sleep but they shouldn't exercise just before bedtime as this has the opposite effect. Exercising in the sunshine is the best of all as it helps their body produce the valuable sleep hormone melatonin.
Top Tip 10 - Teach Your Child Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques can work with children from a fairly young age. Teaching them to concentrate on their breathing whilst imagining lying on a warm, sunny beach.