Tips For Helping Children Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep
Quality sleep is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health. Too little sleep can result in medical problems, including cardiovascular disease, breathing difficulties, diabetes, and obesity. Lack of sound sleep also affects mood, memory, and clear thinking. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you have no issue falling asleep.
However, if you’re like 70 million other Americans, you have some type of chronic sleep issue. While many sleep-related issues require treatment, others can be alleviated by making sure you get enough sleep. Here are a few tips for getting a good night’s rest without prescription drugs or over the counter sleep aids that often have undesirable side effects:
Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, and most energy drinks, and should be avoided for at least 4 hours before bedtime. Nicotine is also a stimulant, so smokers should similarly refrain from lighting up in the late evening. Alcohol also has initial stimulant effects that can affect sleep, so limit consumption to 1 or 2 drinks no later than 3 hours before going to bed.
Steer Clear of Late Night Meals
Avoid eating large meals late at night, and especially those with spicy foods. A heavy meal eaten within two to three hours of going to bed can result in digestive discomfort, making it hard to sleep.
Try Natural Sleep Remedies
Rather than prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids with their unwanted side effects, there are several natural alternatives that can help you fall asleep. Try Melatonin, Tryptophan, Chamomile and Valerian Root.
Regular Physical Exercise
National Sleep Foundation studies indicate that as little as 10 minutes daily spent cycling, walking, or taking part in other aerobic exercises can significantly improve sleep quality. Exercising regularly also helps reduce the risk of other sleeping disorders, including sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day helps regulate the body’s internal clock and improve overall sleep quality.
Sleep on the Right Mattress
Sleeping on the right mattress is essential for getting a sound night’s sleep. Replacing an old, sagging mattress can provide almost immediate relief from many sleep ailments, including backache and insomnia.
As with any physical disorder, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider before taking supplements or beginning an exercise routine.
Trick Your Brain with Science Backed Methods
Here are three science-based methods that can help you fall asleep in 5 minutes or less.
The Military Method
The U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School developed a routine to help their pilots fall asleep in two minutes or less. It’s been reported that 96% of the people who’ve tried this for six weeks have had success. Here’s how:
1.Tighten your face then relax all your facial muscles, including your tongue.
2.Drop your shoulders and let your hands hang loose by the side of your body.
3.Exhale at a normal pace and relax your chest.
4.Relax your legs, thighs and calves.
5.Try to clear your mind for ten seconds, letting your thoughts pass through.
6.Imagine a relaxing scene in your mind. If this doesn’t work repeat the mantra “don’t think” to yourself.You should fall asleep within ten seconds of repeating step six.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Method
Dr. Andrew Weil developed this method based on an ancient yogic technique that helps you gain control of your breath and bring your body into a deep state of relaxation. Here’s how:
1.Start by placing the tip of your tongue behind your upper front teeth.
2.Exhale completely through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound.
3.Close your mouth and inhale through your nose.
4.Hold your breath and mentally count to seven.
5.Exhale through your mouth completely and mentally count to seven.
Repeat the process at least three more times.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Many people practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) to help cope with their anxiety. PMR has also been shown to help people get to sleep faster and get better quality sleep. Here’s how:
1.Breathe in and tense your facial muscles for four to 10 seconds.
2.Breathe out, and suddenly and completely relax your face.
3.Relax for 10 seconds, then tense your shoulders and neck for 10 seconds. Now relax them. Notice the difference between how your muscles feel when they are tense and how they feel when they are relaxed.
4.Continue to tense then relax each muscle group, down to your toes.
5.When you’re done with all of your muscle groups, count backward from five to one to bring your focus back to the present.
Tips For Helping Children Fall Asleep
Establish a relaxing nighttime routine for your child. This is especially important for helping very young children fall asleep. The nightly routine might include taking a bath, putting on a favorite pair of pajamas, brushing teeth and possibly reading them a bedtime story after they’re under the covers and snugly tucked in. Most children find a regular routine calming and comforting, since they’re aware of what’s about to happen. It probably won’t take long before the child automatically starts to become sleepy as the nightly routine begins.
Turn Off Electronic Devices at Least an Hour Before Bedtime.
The blue light emitted by a TV, tablet, smart phone, and similar devices interfere with the body’s production of melatonin, which is a naturally occurring substance that helps regulate the human body’s sleeping and waking cycles. As little as half an hour’s TV or other screen time close to bedtime can be enough to keep your child awake for an extra 2 hours or more.
Create an Environment Conducive to Sleep.
Be sure their activities before bedtime are calm, the bedroom lights are dim and noise levels are low to help avoid excess cortisol production than can keep your child – and you – awake.
Keep the Room Comfortable but Cool. A room that’s overly warm affects a child’s ability to fall asleep. Avoid using too many blankets and covers when you tuck him or her in and lower the thermostat setting slightly shortly before bedtime.
Be Sure Your Child Eats Properly.
Children need to be fed a nutritious and satisfying evening meal, but it needs to be at the right time. Eating too early will leave the child hungry and overly alert when it’s time to go to bed. Eating a meal late in the evening can make the child uncomfortable and unable to fall sleep.
Alleviate Nighttime Fears.
Some younger children have a fear of the dark or being alone that makes them reluctant to go to bed or fall asleep. Praise them for being brave while assuring them that their bedroom is a safe and secure place. A favorite stuffed animal may comfort and reassure a child, and a low-level nightlight in the room helps to make some kids feel safer.
Be Aware of Possible Sleep Disorders.
If your child continues to have problems falling or staying asleep or regularly experiences nightmares, it may be a sleep disorder keeping them awake that needs professional treatment. Consult with the child’s pediatrician if the problem persists for more than a few weeks or it interferes with his or her daily life, including school and social interactions.
Choose the Right Bed.
Sleeping alone in a large bed can be lonely and intimidating for some young children. A twin mattress and bedframe, however, might give the child a cozy, more secure “tucked in” feeling that could help them sleep comfortably through the night. Measuring 35” wide x 75” long, a standard twin mattress is a good choice for youngsters who have outgrown a crib and should accommodate them comfortably into their teenage years.
Purchase quality bedding.
Comfortable pillows and other bedding and accessories, including sheets that are soft and welcoming, make it easier for your child to fall asleep and stay asleep. Just as the right mattress should support the shoulders, back and hips, the right pillow is needed to properly support the child’s head, neck and spine. A good pillow choice for youngsters 3 to 12 years old is the Pure Care Rise & Shine Memory Foam Kid’s Pillow, which comes with two 1” removable memory foam inserts. Each insert hugs the head and neck while providing spinal support. Adding or removing the memory foam inserts will adjust the levels of height, comfort, and support until it feels just right to child. Another great pillow for kids is the PharMeDoc Toddler Pillow. Offering an ideal balance of softness and firmness, the Toddler Pillow is a perfect choice for a crib or a little one’s first bed.
Visit Sit ‘n Sleep for Your Next Mattress
Investing in the right mattress is a huge component to falling asleep fast. Call or visit your local Sit ‘n Sleep to speak with one of our expert Sleep Consultants. We can help you find the perfect mattress that’s just right for you and your sleep position.