Is there anything worse than fighting with your kids to get to sleep, so that you can get to bed? It can sometimes be very stressful for you as a parent. Five more minutes of TV, let me beat this level and I’ll go to bed, read me another bedtime story, are all examples of children’s requests before they turn in for the night. But did you know that research shows how sleep plays a crucial role in brain development and functionality in children and teenagers? So what can you do to help your kids sleep sooner, faster and better?
For starters, monitor the amount of time they are watching TV and using electronic devices after dinner and before bed. The stimulation these devices can offer kids may keep their minds active awhile after they shut them off, making it difficult for them to feel drowsy or ready for sleep. In this day and age, it may difficult to get your kid to read a book before bed, because of the availability of other attention grabbing activities. You need to understand the implications such activities can have on your child’s behavior the next day, as well as health down the road.
Heavy snacking before bed can also be an issue for your kids. Do your children eat dinner, go outside to play with the neighbors, and before you know it, are inside eating a fatty snack before running off to bed? This may seem harmless, but eating food with caffeine or heavy in fat can hurt the quality of your kid’s sleep. Hunger can also be induced by the electronic devices your child may be using, whether it is the afternoon or before bed. Overeating in general can pose health concerns, but overeating before bed can lead to increased weight and sleep disorders.
A bedtime schedule may be the reason you are feeling stressed out about your kid’s sleep habits. The ideal child will fall asleep around 9:00 pm, and wake up at 7:00 am to get ready for school. The problem though, may be that kids don’t want to go to sleep until at least 11:00 pm, and waking up at 7:00 am is almost impossible for them. When they do wake up they are like zombies; half asleep, groggy, irritable and unmotivated. Getting your kid on a proper sleep/wake cycle will help avoid much of the hassle in trying to get them in and out of bed. This can also take stress off of your life and allow you to sleep better.
Here are some ways to help increase drowsiness at night:
- Puzzles: Trying replacing TV or video games with a puzzle to keep your child’s mind at bay. Using his/her brain to try and piece it together will cause him/her to begin slowing down, as mental activity is much more exhausting than physical activity.
- Reading: Try competing with the TV by finding a compelling book to read! This will both educate and expand your child’s intellectual capabilities, as well as induce a nice relaxing sleep.
- Dinner: Eating properly at dinner can help your child get a better night’s sleep. Foods high in melatonin and tryptophan can help to induce drowsiness sooner than it would normally occur. Eating a heavy and hearty meal way cause stomach irritation later in the night and could keep your child from getting the sleep they deserve.
- Bath: If your child typically gets cleaned up and ready for his day close to bedtime, try to move his bath or shower earlier in the evening. Taking a hot bath or shower can help induce sleep by the changes in body temperature. Schedule his bath or shower at least 90 minutes before bed.
These are just a few remedies to help you get your child in bed and ready to sleep. We do not urge or recommend the use of any OTC drugs or sleep aids with your children as they have side effects. If you feel your child may suffer from a sleep disorder, and that is the cause of his inability to sleep, please see your medical care professional.