Is bedtime a challenge in your household? When your child has difficulty falling and staying asleep, it can seem like a nightmare for the rest of the household. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential not only for children, but for parents as well, as this is when the body repairs and restores itself.
When kids don’t get enough sleep, they don’t necessarily act sleepy like adults do. In fact, they often become hyper and irritable when they are overtired, making it harder for them to fall and stay asleep. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your child may still toss and turn or wake frequently in the middle of the night. So how can you have successful bedtimes every night? Give these tried-and-true natural tips a go to get your child to hit the hay—and stay there!
Try These 15 Sleep Tips For Kids
- Create a routine: A regular and relaxing bedtime ritual helps your child mentally and physically prepare for sleep. Your routine can be anything that works for you and your child. For example; an evening snack, warm bath, bedtime story, relaxing music and/or a snuggle. Clear, consistent and predictable routines can help ease your child into a peaceful slumber. Give yourself plenty of time and avoid rushing them which can make everyone feel anxious, making it harder to fall asleep.
- Adjust bedtime: Research indicates that many children’s bedtimes are out of sync with their internal chrono-biological clocks. Since the beginning of time our bodies have evolved to be synchronized with the rising and setting of the sun, and in the grand scheme of things our bodies have had very little time to adapt to the introduction of artificial light. It is suggested that you expose your child (and yourself) to natural light first thing in the morning—and throughout the day—to keep your internal clock in sync with the circadian phase.
- What’s the Moon doing? There’s mounting evidence showing there’s a connection to our health and Moon cycles. An international study examined the effects of lunar phases on sleep in children—they slept an average of 4.9 minutes less during the time of the full Moon for an average 1% reduction in total sleep time. Another 2013 sleep study determined participants slept 20 minutes less, on average, during a full Moon phase, took an average of 5 minutes longer to fall asleep, had lower levels of the “sleep hormone,” reported sleeping less soundly, and took longer to reach REM sleep. So we recommend you check our Moon phase calendar to be mindful of where the Moon is in its phase.
- Schedule regular physical activity: If your child is sedentary during the day, he may not sleep well at night. Kids require regular physical movement to burn off energy so that sleep comes easily. With school-aged kids sitting sedentary for a good part of the day, it’s a good idea to get them moving during after-school hours.
- Don’t over-schedule: While staying active helps to wear kids out, over-scheduling can be counterintuitive. Participation in too many after-school activities can get kids riled up, while it also pushes back dinner and bedtime. It also leaves little room for unstructured playtime.
- Rethink the nightlight: The healthiest way to sleep is in complete darkness. Any light pollution (even from bright clocks or a night light) can disrupt hormone regulation, which affects sleep and immune function. For those kids who need a light, try trading in your traditional night light for a Himalayan salt lamp. It emits an orange/yellow glow instead of a blue light, which can disrupt sleep. Try turning off any lights after your child falls asleep or use a night light with a timer that turns off after 30-60 minutes.
- What’s that sound? Kids have a physiological response to the sounds in their environment. Listening to calming sounds can help to relax anxious children and drown out unwanted noise. Soothing classical music, bedtime audiobooks, and a sleep machine have all been shown to lower heart rates, respiration rates, and oxygen saturation levels.
- Dietary changes: Small dietary changes can be effective in establishing healthy sleeping habits. Try trading in your sugary for carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Opt for oatmeal with milk, whole wheat toast with almond butter, carrots with hummus, crackers, or apple slices with almond butter. Combining nutrients in this way help to prevent the rise and crash of energy levels.
- Try yoga: Take your bedtime story ritual a step further and incorporate some calming yoga moves into your bedtime routine. Relaxing yoga before bed can help kids reset after a day full of emotions. Dim the lights, play soothing music, and put on your calmest voice. Look for some kid-friendly, calming yoga moves (check out Bari Koral’s yoga-themed music and educational videos) that help release tension and shift their minds from the daily stressors to preparing for dreamland.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a naturally occurring mineral and an essential nutrient in our bodies. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and helps promote sleep. Opt to increase your child’s magnesium levels through diet. Leafy greens, bananas, avocados, black beans, yogurt, quinoa, and almonds (or almond butter) are all rich sources of magnesium.
- Touch: Infant massage is nothing new, but all children can benefit from the relaxing properties of touch. Massage has shown to improve sleep and promote a healthy bond between you and your child. There are many massage techniques and acupressure points you can look into that can aid in sleep.
- Wind down with a warm bath: Trade screen time for a relaxing, warm bath. Add a few drops of chamomile or lavender oil into the bath water for calming effects (provided there are no allergies to either).
- Adjust room temperature: Our core body temperature needs to dip in order to fall asleep. Aim for a bedroom temperature of anywhere between 65º to 70ºF. for optimal sleep. Anything above 75º or below 54º can disrupt sleep. Use your own comfort level as a guide.
- Invite Fido: Unless your child has allergies, having a pet nearby may help children feel relaxed, allowing them to fall asleep with less difficulty. Take into consideration the cleanliness, size, and temperament of your pet. If your child is uneasy at night and needs an extra sense of security, consider inviting your purring cat or well-behaved dog into her room.
- Kid-safe herbs: Catnip, chamomile, passion flower, California poppy, lemon balm, and lavender are all gentle, safe herbs that assist relaxation. Enjoying a warm cup of chamomile tea may be just the trick to lull your little one into a sleep-ready state.
Every child is different, what works for one child may not work for another. While sleep issues are common and are usually harmless, if your child experiences chronic insomnia, it may be related to a more serious medical condition, requiring a doctor’s attention.
What your your best tips for helping kids sleep? Share in the comments below…