Tips for Helping Your Child Get To Sleep

Ensuring adequate and consistent sleep is paramount for a child's holistic development. Quality sleep plays a crucial role in supporting their intellectual, emotional, and physical well-being. Alarming trends, highlighted by Dr. Charles Czeisler, Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, reveal that children as young as five years old are experiencing up to two hours less sleep at night compared to previous decades.

Recognizing the significance of quality sleep in a child's life, it becomes imperative to prioritize their sleep routines. Teaching our kids the importance of a good night's sleep lays the foundation for their overall health and success. Here are a few essential tips to assist children of all ages in getting the sleep they need.

Create a Bedtime Routine

Routines help establish healthy sleep patterns that the body begins to recognize as a signal it’s time to sleep. Your routine might include bathing, brushing teeth, putting on pajamas, and reading a story. Once you determine the right time to wind things down at night, follow the same routine. That means going to bed and waking up at the same time (approximately) on the weekends, during school breaks, and even family vacations. It doesn’t mean kids can’t ever stay up late or get up early, but you should try to avoid changes as much as possible. For kids especially, turning bedtime into something familiar and predictable makes it easier to get to sleep night after night.

Establish Clear Sleep Rules

Clearly communicate and enforce sleep rules with your child. This includes the importance of staying in bed once it's bedtime and minimizing disruptions during the night. Consistent rules create a sense of security and help children understand the expectations surrounding sleep.

Provide a Sense of Safety

Many kids experience some kind of anxiety about being alone in the dark. A night light can help, as can positive reinforcement when your child displays courage or independence. You can also help the situation by avoiding scary media – TV, movies, video games, bedtime stories.

And while it may be tempting to let your child crawl in bed with you whenever they feel scared, it’s important for kids to get comfortable sleeping on their own. If your child has specific fears or anxieties related to bedtime, address them openly. Create a bedtime routine that includes activities to ease these fears, such as checking for monsters together or using a nightlight for comfort.

Eat a Good Dinner

If your child doesn’t eat enough at dinner, it can leave them feeling hungry and uncomfortable when it’s time to sleep. Conversely, if they eat large portions of unhealthy foods, they could have digestive distress around bedtime. Try to get your child to eat enough good foods that he or she doesn’t need a snack at night. But if you think a snack might help, avoid anything sugary or heavy. Instead, offer a light and healthy evening snack, such as yogurt or a banana, which contains sleep-promoting nutrients.

Use the Day Strategically

The most reliable way to get your kid to sleep at night is getting them to burn off lots of energy during the day. Encourage active play and go outside whenever possible to get exposure to natural light. Sunlight during the day helps your child’s internal body clock register the passage of time and activate the desire to sleep at night. Encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate physical activities, whether it's playing outside, participating in sports, or practicing yoga.

Do Something Relaxing

High-energy activities right before bed only make it harder to sleep. So does looking at a TV, phone, tablet, or computer screen. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Set a rule to turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.  Encourage calming activities instead, such as listening to soothing music, reading a book, writing in a journal, or practicing a breathing or relaxation exercise. Younger kids may only need 10-20 minutes to relax, but for older kids, it might take 30 minutes to an hour to feel ready to sleep. Factor this into the bedtime routine. 

Try These Yoga Poses

Guiding your children through the following yoga poses helps them expend leftover energy and learn to understand how their bodies work. Practice these poses before bed with your children. By the end of the series, your kids will feel relaxed, calm, and ready to sleep. Before long, you’ll hear the sweet sound of your sleeping kids breathing softly.

Sun Breath
Start with your hands at your sides, extended and engaged, with hands open and facing front. Stretch your arms and fingers down and outward, then inhale, slowly stretching your arms out and up, raising them to meet palm to palm over your head. Keeping your shoulders down, exhale and lower your arms back down to the starting position. Repeat five to ten times, moving with your breath.

Tree Pose
Stand tall, reaching the top of your head toward the ceiling, with feet together and arms resting at your sides. Inhale and lift your left foot, resting the sole of your foot on the side of your right ankle (or above your knee, for those with excellent balance). If this is too difficult, rest your left toes on the ground with heel on your right ankle. Bring your hands together in front of your chest in prayer position, focusing on one spot for balance. Rest here for five breaths, then switch feet.

Butterfly Pose
Sit on the floor, reaching your spine nice and tall, and bend your legs to bring the soles of your feet together. Roll your shoulders back and down and place your hands on your ankles or hold them palm to palm in prayer position in front of your chest. Breathe into your belly for a count of five, then exhale for a count of seven, repeating five times.

Child’s Pose
Begin on your knees, sitting back on your heels with your arms resting at your sides. Slowly bring your forehead to the ground in front of your knees, keeping your behind on your heels. Allow your arms to rest at your sides or reach them straight in front of you with palms flat on the ground, keeping your behind pinned to your heels and shoulders rooting down. Breathe deeply into your belly for ten rounds of breath.

Lie on your back with arms and legs straight and relaxed. Allow your feet to fall naturally to the side and relax your fingers with your palms facing the ceiling. Let the floor hold you up and close your eyes, taking slow, natural breaths. As with every yoga practice, ending with savasana allows the benefits of the poses to sink in, while oxygenated blood circulates through your body.

Upgrade the Bedroom

Ensure your child's sleep space is conducive to rest. A cozy and inviting sleep environment can make a significant difference in the quality of sleep your child receives.

Children have the same sleep needs as anyone else: a dark and quiet space that’s a comfortable temperature and free of distractions. Make sure your kid’s room isn’t brighter or noisier than you realize, especially if it’s adjacent to a living area. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet. And like everyone else, kid needs a quality mattress to sleep on.

Kids outgrow mattresses just like their clothes, meaning they might be sleeping on something too small. Kid’s mattresses wear out faster too, especially when it’s a hand me down. If the mattress is more than 6-8 years old, consider a replacement.

When you need a child’s mattress, visit one of the 38 Sit ‘n Sleep locations throughout Southern California. We have options to suit kids of all ages and budgets at every price point. And if it leads to better sleep for your child and more peaceful nights for mom and dad, it’s certainly a good investment. Spend some time exploring our website to learn more about our mattress inventory and bedding accessories.