With all the excitement and stimulation that kids face throughout the day, it can be hard to get them settled in time for bed. Yet, sleep is crucial to a child’s mental and physical development. It promotes growth, prevents illness, and boosts learning capabilities. In fact, sufficient sleep has been labelled as just as important for kids as good nutrition and regular exercise.
Luckily, there are a lot of different ways to help your kids wind down and fall asleep on time. Below are just five of the tricks to make sure your kids get the quality sleep they need.
1. Eat a dinner with sleep-inducing foods
Dinner can play a surprising role in a child’s sleep quality. While foods like French fries and burgers are often table-side favorites, it’s best to avoid them. Their grease and sodium can keep kids awake late into the night with indigestion and nausea. Instead, try tuna, turkey, spinach, or rice. These foods contain sleep-supportive nutrients like melatonin, magnesium, and healthy proteins and should help your kids fall asleep easily and stay asleep throughout the night.
2. Read a book
Reading children a bedtime story is a tried and true tradition. Not only is it a great way to bond with your child and help them feel secure in their bedroom, it’s also a perfect stress-reliever. Reading before bed is a form of self-care that can help your kids relax into sleep by lowering their heart rates and anxiety levels. It also helps set up a healthy routine that they can carry into adulthood. By making this a part of their bedtime routine, you will also help signal to their brains that it’s time to begin winding down, making it easier for them to feel sleepy naturally.
3. Stick to a schedule
Kids are creatures of habit, and routine is the structure of their schedules. Make sure this applies to their sleep, too. Toddlers should be getting 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night while school-age kids should be getting 8 to 10. It’s important that you monitor their sleep patterns to ensure that they’re getting the sleep that their developing brains and bodies require. If they must be up at 7 a.m. for school, they need to be going to sleep by 9 p.m. at the latest. Keeping them on a strict bedtime, even on the weekends, will make it easier for them to fall asleep every night.
4. Try out bedtime yoga
Although yoga may seem like a far cry from a child’s bedtime ritual, it can have a surprising impact on a child’s ability to wind down. Yoga, stretching, and meditation all focus on breathing and loosening the body, leading to natural stress release and muscle relaxation. These benefits can vastly improve a child’s ability to fight off nighttime anxieties and relax into sleep. Consider trying out some bedtime yoga poses as a family or encourage your child to do a quick routine in their room.
5. Use a red-toned nightlight
LED lights can disturb anyone’s ability to fall asleep because their blue tone can disrupt natural circadian rhythms. If your kids need nightlights to fall asleep, consider using one with a red hue because the color is the least disruptive to sleep patterns. It’s also important to try to avoid all LED light, including phones and TVs, within two hours of bed. As a family, try to watch TV before dinner, and dim the lights around the house after you eat. This should help protect your kids’ sleep cycles and help them wind down at night.
Sleep is essential in a child’s physical, mental, and emotional health, so it’s important that your kids are getting the sleep they need. Follow these tips to help your kids wind down in time to get the good night’s sleep they need.
Lisa is a health researcher and writer based in New York. Her area of expertise is in sleep, investigating the different ways that it can affect overall health. When she’s not reading the latest sleep study, she’s probably traveling or taking her dogs for a walk.