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How to get your kids to sleep early at night

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
08 February 2020   |   4:14 am
Sleep is an important part of growth process in kids. Everyone needs sleep to help re-energise, re-vitalise and prepare for the next day.

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Sleep is an important part of growth process in kids. Everyone needs sleep to help re-energise, re-vitalise and prepare for the next day. Hence for kids to grow smarter, pay more attention in class and become more knowledgeable, sleep is an important aspect for them. It is also necessary that kids get at least 10 hours of sleep everyday, hence they should be in bed early enough to achieve this.

However, when it comes to children and sleep, one of the most frequent concerns from parents is how to get them to bed on time every night. Nearly every parent has had to deal with the difficulty of putting a child to bed at some point.

And, for a lot of parents, bedtime is a recurring nightmare. It seems strange that kids require much more sleep than adults do; yet many resist going to sleep with every fiber in their body. This can cause a strain on both parents and children and lead to poor sleep for everybody in the household.

Here are a few tricks to help you get your kids to bed:

. Know how much sleep your child should be getting. Based on your child’s age, they will require various amounts of sleep. From total hours slept everyday, to how many hours a night they sleep, to typical napping habits, understanding your child’s sleeping needs will help you set limitations and bedtime rules for your kids. Children between ages one to three need about 12 to14 hours of sleep; ages three to six, should have about 11 to12 hours of sleep; seven to 12 years of age, should sleep for approximately 10-12 hours while ages 13-18 should have 8 to 10 hours of sleep daily.

. Make bedtime a routine. Creating a bedtime routine for children can take the stress out of bedtime for both the parents and the child. Kids crave and thrive on structure, as it gives them a sense of safety and security. Getting your child into a nightly bedtime routine helps them develop sleep associations that helps prepare them for bedtime. It’s a good idea to begin the bedtime ritual with a wind down period that begins 15 to 30 minutes before their actual bedtime routine begins. This can include turning off the TV, playing relaxing music, dimming lights, talking softer, and even moving slower. All of these subtle changes are cues that your child will pick up as signs that bedtime is approaching.

. Actual bedtime routines can comprise of many relaxing and sleep promoting activities, including a relaxing bath, putting on pajamas, brushing their teeth, story-time in bed and good night kisses. The routine itself can be altered or changed entirely depending on what you find works for your child’s individual needs. It’s not so much the components of the routine that are important, but the consistency that is key.

. Create an ideal sleeping environment. Your child’s room should help promote sleeping. It’s best to keep their room dark, quiet, and cool. Some children (especially the very young) want at least a little light in their room, so a nightlight or a dim light is perfectly acceptable. If they can’t sleep in silence or you want to drown out some of the noises from the rest of the house, use a noise machine or a fan to create a rhythmic, steady sound.

. Make sure they get regular exercise. It’s important that your children get plenty of exercise during the day; this will help them wind down quicker at night. However, keep their last playtime at least three hours before bedtime or they may still be too stimulated for sleep.

. Avoid meals and caffeine before bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant and not very good for children anyway. However, if you do allow your child the occasional soft drink, make sure that they don’t have any drinks containing sugar and caffeine within three hours of bedtime.

Snacks are perfectly acceptable before bedtime as long as they’re healthy and not very filling. If your child asks for a food or drink before bedtime give them a warm glass of milk, or a light healthy snack such as fruit or crackers.

. Be on the lookout for signs of sleep disorders. If you have established a consistent bedtime routine and made adjustments to fit your child’s individual needs and they are still having difficulties with sleeping, your child may have a sleep disorder. Keep a close eye on both your child’s nighttime sleeping behaviours and patterns as well as how they function during the day. If they are chronically tired during the day, have difficulty concentrating on homework, or have behavioural problems at home or school, it could be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder.

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