With all-too-common nightmares, anxiety, discomfort, and over-stimulation, kids of every age often struggle to stay asleep throughout the night. There could even be several reasons why they’re not sleeping well that you don’t yet realize. No matter how old your child is, however, healthy sleep is an important aspect of their overall wellbeing. Here are five different ways you can help them stay asleep throughout the night:
1. Keep your kid’s phone out of the room
Using a smartphone before bed can disrupt a kid’s sleep schedule. Whether it’s feeling pressured while comparing themselves to friends or simply absorbing the stress of others, social media has been proven to increase feelings of stress and anxiety.
Worrisome thoughts can keep anyone awake at night, especially children. Plus, the blue LED light from smartphone screens has been shown to disrupt melatonin levels which can prevent kids from feeling sleepy. Keep chargers in the kitchen or living room so your teen is forced to leave their phone outside and keep their bedroom a sleep sanctuary.
2. Make sure young kids stay in their room
Whether induced by nightmares, separation anxiety, or something else, many young kids suffer from night terrors. If your child crawls into your bed every night to ease their fears, however, it can disrupt not only their sleep, but yours as well.
Encourage your kids to stay in their room so they can eventually become comfortable enough to sleep throughout the night. Reward them with a sticker for every night they spend in their room or give them a comfort item of yours like an old t-shirt so they don’t feel alone.
3. Teach them stress-relief tactics
If your child is a little older and still struggles with nighttime anxieties, teach them some strategies to calm down before settling in for the night.
Deep breathing, counting sheep, or even just reading a good book can all be very effective stress-relief techniques and help your kids fall asleep with a lighter mind. This should prevent them from waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety. They can also use these tactics, however, to fall back asleep after waking up from nightmares.
4. Give them a more comfortable bed
All too often, parents neglect the importance of their child’s bed. Hand-me-down mattresses, beaten bed frames, and old sheets are staples of a kid’s bedroom, and will likely stay with them until they move away to college.
Bedding, however, is an easy thing to update and can play a major role in your child’s sleep quality. Invest in a new bed frame or mattress and modern, breathable sheets to ensure you’re giving your kids a supportive bed that will improve their sleep.
5. Set a bio routine for preschoolers
Many kids wake up in the middle of the night after wetting the bed. Keeping your children on a bathroom routine before bedtime can help train their bladders to work around their sleep instead of interrupting it. Encourage them to use the bathroom once shortly after dinner and then right before bed. Then, routinely have them go to the bathroom immediately after waking up. This should help train their body to rework its natural bathroom schedule and allow your child to stay asleep throughout the night.
Above all, it’s critical to educate your child on the importance of sleep: don’t allow it to be a chore that they dread. Make bedtime a fun, relaxing time that readies your child for healthy sleep.
Brad Schwartz is a freelance writer and content specialist with a focus on parenting and childhood health. He’s the father of three boys and often uses his own experiences as a parent to guide his research and writing.
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