A good night’s sleep is imperative for children. Sleep is the main building block of their cognitive and behavioural development. It ensures they have the energy to wake each morning happy, refreshed and ready to learn. So if you’re concerned that your child might not be getting enough sleep, chances are that you are not getting enough sleep either.
Here are some tip to improve sleep in your family:
- Keep regular sleep and wake times. You can start encouraging your child to sleep and wake at the same time since birth. This task will become easier after 6 months when the body clock is better developed.
- Avoid daytime naps for older kids. It can make it harder for them to settle at night if they have a nap. If you feel they really need a nap on certain days ensure they are not longer than 20 minutes.
- Create the mood before bed. When time for the bedtime routine is approaching warn your child. Move on to more quite play and tell them how much time they have left giving them a count down. The last thing you want is your child feeling that you interrupted the best part of a game.
Create the appropriate sleep environment
- Make sure the room temperature if pleasant for your child.
- Dress your child accordingly. If the room is too hot or too cold your child will not sleep well. If you have young children that move around a lot, a sleeping bag is a good idea.
- Make sure noise and light is kept to a minimum. Avoid loud music, TV or electronic devices close to sleep time.
- Make sure the bed or cot is safe. Put away anything that can be a chocking or suffocation hazard such as blinds and curtains cords, large pillows, stuffed toys, thick blankets. If your child just transitioned to a bed make sure you have safety bars or cushions on the floor in case they fall. Keep the floor clear of toys or other objects they can trip over.
Encourage good nutrition
- Eat the right amount of food. Make sure you and your child are satisfied after meals. Feeling hungry or too full might cause discomfort and disturb sleep.
- Avoid sugary foods and drinks. We should all avoid sugary foods and drinks at any time, but especially late in the afternoon and evening.
- Avoid caffeine. Coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate should not be consumed later in the day.
- Make sure you and your child enjoy regular physical activity during the day, avoid late exercise. The stimulation and increase in body temperature can make it difficult to settle for a good night’s sleep.
- Discuss issues during the day. If your child is going through problems in her life such as anxieties, worries, school problems or any other problem that could be affecting your child sleep. Try discussing them earlier in the day. Talk about the issue, write a journal or see a specialist if needed.
- Recognise your child’s effort. If your child has been having sleeping issues, but you noticed that she is really trying to improve, praise her efforts and encourage further improvements.