Getting your child to sleep is not easy.
So, imagine knowing ways to not get your children to bed, but to ensure that they sleep better.
…and you don’t need any tricks?
In today’s post, I will be sharing with you 5 easy sleep training techniques to help your children sleep better beginning from tonight.
What Happens When Your Children Lack Proper Sleep?
Most parents try to get their children to sleep just like they do.
But, years of research show that there is a huge difference between the sleeping patterns of adults and children. You would be surprised to find out that your 15-year-old and your 5-year-old sleep quite differently, says Edna Alfaro.
When adults don’t get enough sleep, you can notice the physical effects almost instantly. But with kids, it may take a while for the signs to manifest. And, when they eventually do, they might be irreversible.
Here’s what might happen:
- Stunted growth. Yes, I know it sounds too extreme but this is one of the side effects of sleep deprivation in children. The growth hormone, somatotropin, is secreted during sleep, and its deficiency may cause very serious consequences.
- Lack of motivation. Kids who do not get proper sleep often experience no interest in everyday tasks. This can directly affect their ability to interact with other kids their age.
- Lack of focus. Due to a lack of sleep or frequent sleep disruptions, children can become increasingly forgetful. They can also become clumsy or lack coordination, hence, more prone to accidents.
- Difficulty learning new information. Another negative effect that sleep loss has on kids is a consequence of a shorter attention span and a lack of focus.
- Frequent sickness. Proneness to colds and infections is caused by a weakened immune system, which is part of the side effects of sleep deprivation in children. This can in turn restrict them from essential activities.
- Slight mental disorders. These are hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, aggression, temper tantrums, disruptive behavior, or memory problems.
- Other implications can be: frequently waking up at night, waking up late in the morning, crankiness, irritability, moodiness, or low frustration tolerance.
So, How Do You Ensure Your Children Sleep Better and Healthier?
The protective instinct runs in every parent.
In fact, it’s part of our DNA. From the moment your children are born, you strive to protect them. You overhear your kid quarreling with another child and you are eager to go to battle for them. You want to keep in touch with their every move and help them whatever it takes.
It’s not always possible, as there are things your child should come to on their own. But thankfully, this doesn’t include sleep. So, here’s how you can help your children sleep better.
#1 Create a Bedtime Routine
This means setting a fixed sleeping and waking times.
Routines are not just about letting your child know that bedtime is near; they are also an opportunity to get some bonding time with you. Typical bedtime practices like brushing the teeth, taking a bath, or a storytime put your child in a sleepy mood almost automatically.
Kids recognize the pattern and if they derive enough fun from it, they can even look forward to these routines. Even though you want to make sure that your child actively partakes in these activities, you also want to make sure they are not too hyperactive.
Another great thing with routines is that even in your absence, your child can set out to do them and which, in turn, helps them sleep quicker and better.
The same thing happens when they wake up. Their body gets used to waking up around the same time when you have a fixed time for morning routines.
#2 Address Their Fears
Typically, parents dismiss fear, not knowing that this scares the child even more and prevents them from sleeping normally.
So, instead of dismissing bedtime fears, I suggest that you talk about them with your kid.
It also depends on the age of your child. Some children will buy into the whole “no-monsters-in-your-room” talk, but for others, it may demand a little bit more creativity from you.
For instance, kids feel safer sleeping with something familiar. It could be their favorite shirt, a special blanket, or Mr. Pooh, the teddy bear.
Or, for a more dramatic effect, you can fill up a bottle with water, add some essential oils to it, shake, and spray. Cover the bottle with a fancy DIY label that says something like “anti-monster potion”. This should work as well to help them feel safer.
#3 Limit Their Screen Time
Turn all screens off for at least half an hour before bedtime routines begin.
Also, make sure that there are no TVs or computers in the bedroom.
Light from mobile devices has been associated with poor sleep quality. I know, they are tiny and seem insignificant, but for a child whose attention to screens is always alert, you want to avoid this as much as possible.
“The blue light emitted by screens can cause a delayed melatonin release, which will make it difficult for your child to fall asleep.”
Apart from allowing them to watch videos on screen closer to bedtime, avoid taking your gadget with you when tucking your children in bed. The slightest light makes it harder for children to go to sleep.
#4 Always Check for Lights
It can be light from a gadget or just regular lamps.
As already mentioned above, excess light right before bedtime can promote an active mood in your child and a lack of sleepiness, resulting in poor quality of sleep.
While most kids prefer to sleep with their lights on, this is not healthy for them. As a parent, you want to be able to control this. You can explain to your children why it is necessary for them to sleep with lights-out.
You can place a lamp with dim settings in the room. And then be sure to turn it off once the child is asleep. As an alternative, you can use a night light with an auto shut-off setting.
Sleeping masks help too. Pay attention to the material the mask is made from, as some fabrics may cause irritation or itchiness. Children may sometimes wake up too early from sunlight streaming into their rooms. So getting dark colored curtains should help prevent this.
#5 Watch Their Caffeine Intake
You know that the impact of caffeine on sleep for adults is enormous.
Now, imagine the impact it will have on a child.
Caffeine is found in various beverages and foods. There is caffeine in energy drinks, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cola, and others. And unfortunately, you do not always control everything your child consumes. Especially with school-aged children who are out of your sight for hours.
What you can do is to encourage them to stay away from things that typically contain caffeine. You can also increase their intake of magnesium supplements and cherry juice, as these have a number of health benefits linked to sleep.
Magnesium strengthens the immune system and has a calming effect on the nervous system. And cherries, in addition to being yummy, contain high amounts of melatonin, which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles.