Are you worried or frustrated that your child is not sleeping at the right time? As responsible parents, it is important to be armed with research-proven methods to make our kids sleep at the right time. But first, a brief explanation as to why sleeping at the right time is especially important for children.
To simplify how science explains it, the need for sleep is just as important as the time of the day we go sleep. Sleep is actually determined not only by the level of tiredness or sleepiness that accumulates throughout the time we are awake, but also by a biological clock that makes us less likely to fall asleep at certain times of the day. For children, sleeping at the right time is crucial because they are rapidly developing. Abundant studies show that children with improper sleeping habits will likely experience delays in developmental milestones such as learning abilities. As adults, we know very well the negative effects of a jacked up biological clock every time we are forced by circumstances such as work deadlines to skip our usual bedtime. We function less effectively the following day, are irritable, and have a foggy mental state. Emphatically, we do not want our children’s welfare and development to be compromised by damaging sleeping habits!
Below are easy and practical ways to make your kids sleep at the right time. See how these research-proven tips to get your kids to sleep can work like a charm for the hardest job in the world: parenting.
Establish and Follow a Schedule
Establishing a bedtime schedule or your kids—and sticking to it—will build a habit for your kids and nurture their biological responses to sleep. Not only does a consistently maintained schedule make your child’s bedtime easy, it will also prevent you from missing some much-needed z’s, which is very important for having the necessary energy for effective parenting. Base the schedule on the time your kids wake up, say for school, and how long it takes for your kids to fall asleep. Bear in mind as well that the recommended hours of sleep for your kids’ age varies. For pre-schoolers aged three to five and school-aged children from six to 13, the typical bedtime is between 7 P.M. and 9 P.M. As for the length of sleeping time, the recommendation ranges from 10 to12 hours.
Work as Child-Parent Team
As much as possible, avoid arguments with your child about bedtime schedule. The trick is to view it as teamwork. Discuss and agree on a sleeping schedule with your child. Adjust accordingly, but within reasonable limits. It’s also best to extend the discussion to other family members, such as your spouse and older children. Younger kids are naturally inquisitive, and may ask you a lot of questions about the sleeping schedule being established. Child psychologists prescribe—and experience shows—that children benefit from clear explanations given by parents. Discussing and explaining the reasons for sleeping at the right time with your child will better help maintain the sleeping schedule as a routine.
No Scary Stories
Caving in to your child’s demand for a scary bedtime story, or even treating spooky tales as a way to make them sleep, is likely not a good idea. These can lead to nightmares and night terrors, characterized by sudden, frantic screaming in the middle of the night. Professor of Psychology Darcia Naravaez reports that a scary story can even leave a lasting scar on a child’s psyche. To err on the safe side, it is also ideal to strictly limit your child’s access to TV and video games, as a wrong scare can be disturbing for your child’s sleeping pattern. In moments when your child is too frightened to be left alone, you may want first to sit beside or lie down with him or her until your child can go back to sleep.
Avoid Too Much Sugar
Keep sugary foods at the minimum before bedtime, or best avoid it altogether. Having too much sugar can overly stimulate your child’s nervous system, which gets in the way of sleeping at the right time. One of the ways to make your child eat healthy and sleep better at night is to substitute artificially sugared foods such as candies and chips with naturally sweet healthy alternatives such as frozen bananas. Healthy foods alleviate hunger better and are perfect to aid sleep.
Condo living with kids has innumerable perks for strengthening family relationships. For instance, the space is conducive to building closer family ties. If your family follows different sleeping schedules at night, it is important to reduce noise an hour before bedtime so your child can automatically wind down. By reducing noise from TV or an evening chatter, you allow your child to become less distracted and enjoy undisturbed sleep. Although a room does not have to be completely silent for your child to be able to sleep, sudden changes in noise levels can be very interrupting.
Play a Soothing Sound
In some cases, a child can sleep better if there is consistent low-level sound, such as those coming from your lullaby, a music player, or even white noise from an electric fan. Sound per se is not the enemy, but the inconsistent levels of noise pollution coming from different sources such as car engine interferences. Condos in the Philippines are less susceptible to outside noise because it has height and better window placement compared to lower-level houses. This allows you to control the sound levels and can ascertain if low-level sound can be ideal for your child’s bedtime schedule.
Turn off the Lights
The sleep-wake cycle of humans is very much regulated by light. It is for this reason why our bodies are naturally wired to sleep at night. Too much artificial light in your child’s bedroom at night will mimic sunlight, and this can likely affect your child’s sleeping schedule. Professor Joyce Walsleben of the New York School of Medicine explains that even during sleep, light can pass through the eyelids. And since light inhibits the secretion of the sleeping hormone called melatonin, a brightly-lit room can confuse your child’s brain into thinking that it is daytime, preventing him or her from actually sleeping. In cases where the child is taking time to adjust to bedroom lights completely turned off, it’s best to experiment with dim lighting until the child gets comfortable.
Ventilate the Room
Observe the “Goldilocks Rule” with your child’s room temperature at night. If a room is too hot or too cold, your child will likely experience difficulty sleeping comfortably. It has to be just right, which of course varies per child; so try to experiment. The DMCI Community offers useful design ideas to ensure that your whole unit, not just your child’s bedroom, is ventilated properly. For instance, you may try adding some indoor plants to give your child’s bedroom a fresher and cooler atmosphere.
Kiddie Bath before Bedtime
A proven, effective way for your child to feel clean and prepared for bedtime is by having a nice bath. But play it by ear, and don’t overdo it. A study by Rob Dunn, professor of biology and author of The Wild Life of our Bodies, suggests being too obsessed with cleanliness can be bad for the immune system, because the body needs certain microbes to protect itself from dangerous pathogens. Although he’s mainly talking about diet, it can be tied to the mentality of excessive cleanliness that protective parents may have. If your child has already taken a bath earlier or does not respond well to nightly baths, then it’s probably better to bathe the little one in the morning. A face and hand wash is a better option instead.
Try Kid-Friendly Yoga Poses
Yoga has been proven to increase blood circulation and bring about positive feelings of mind-body balance. And research shows that kid-friendly yoga poses, such as the tree pose and butterfly pose, can help your child sleep better at night. Mariam Gates, author of Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story, provides helpful breathing techniques to help kids properly “reset” at night. According to Gates, who holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, yoga can be enabling for children to relax at night after a day filled with “swirling experiences and emotions.” Yoga also does not require much space, making it perfect for condo living such as in DMCI Homes. You can also try making it a pre-bedtime, healthy bonding activity for the family, and can in fact also serve as one of the easy ways to kill boredom in your condo.
Drink Water an Hour Before
Drinking water a few minutes before bedtime will likely result in unwanted trips to the bathroom or even bed-wetting. Both of these are sleep interruptions. Make sure your child is hydrated throughout the night by making him or her drink water at least an hour before bedtime. The extra time can allow for pee time without the latter being interrupting. You can also alternate water with milk, if your child is lactose tolerant. Milk is known to be sleep inducing for it contains melatonin.
Balance Your Kids Day
What goes before bedtime is just as important as what goes throughout your child’s day. Modern lifestyles can be too hectic for children. A community setting in condominiums is helpful because you can talk to other parents if you’re having trouble with scheduling you child’s day. You can also try fun yet light activities, such as building a bedroom fort, to make your child’s day exciting. Making sure your kid’s day is balanced will do wonders at bedtime, when your child’s energy is naturally set for sleeping. A day too tiring for your kid—a jam-packed day of school work, extracurricular activities, and playtime—can affect your child’s sleeping ability and energy level the next day.
Proper sleeping habits are essential for the cognitive and overall development of children. The underlying benefits of these research-proven ways to make your kids sleep at the right time depend generally on your commitment to be consistent. But don’t forget that there is room for inventiveness! There will be spontaneous moments when your child will have sweet requests before heading off to dreamland—a kiss, a hug, or one last bedtime story. Do your best to incorporate these small rituals to your general bedtime routine and respond with the love your child deserves.