Helping Your Child Get Better Sleep

February 05, 2018

Establish a Routine

Establish a consistent and soothing bedtime routine. The bedtime routine doesn’t have to take up a huge amount of time each evening—around 20 to 30 minutes should do the trick. Start with a warm bath, and then read a book. Then, tuck your child into bed with a favorite stuffed toy. Doing this same routine every night at the same time will help your child settle down for sleep.

Up the Exercise

As the National Institutes of Health notes, an hour a day of physical activity has several benefits for kids, including a better night’s sleep. To help your children get enough exercise, limit their screen time in front of TV, tablets and computer games, and encourage them to get up and get out of the house. Go for a bike ride, walk the dog around the neighborhood, go for a swim or play in the pool. If you're having trouble tearing them away from the video games, encourage those games that get them up and moving. "Just Dance" for the PS4 is one that will get their heart rate up, and there are more, too.

Make Time for Hobbies Before Dinner

Just make sure you make time for exercise and other stimulating activities before dinner, so you can shift the focus to winding down after your meal. Encourage quieter activities like cards, crafts and reading. Allow your child to spend their before-dinner time doing what they enjoy most so that come bedtime, they're more OK with the idea of settling down for the night.

Choose Bedtime Snacks Carefully

A lot of kids enjoy a little snack right before they head to bed, but what we serve our kiddos can help make or break their ability to sleep well. For example, snacks that combine protein and carbs, like toast with peanut butter or crackers with cheese, cause the body to create amino acids that mimic tryptophan, a substance which is well-known for making us feel sleepy. Other foods that can help kids sleep include yogurt, eggs and fruit. On the flip side, steer clear of anything that contains caffeine or too much sugar. For instance, while cocoa seems like a nice and soothing warm beverage, chocolate naturally contains caffeine and can turn kids into little midnight oil burners instead of happy snoozers.

Empower Your Child

Many kids are afraid of monsters under the bed or the scary creature in the closet that only they can see. To help your child feel better about staying alone in his or her room at night, provide your kiddo with tools to make him or her feel braver. For example, a nice night light, a colorful flashlight by their bed, or a spray bottle filled with “Monster-B-Gone” spray can help our kids overcome their nighttime fears.