How to Get Kids to Fall and Stay Asleep

October 14, 2019

Little kids have tons of energy. You’d think they’d be wiped out after running around all day, but they seem to still have energy come bedtime. Even if you finally manage to get them relaxed and ready for sleep, you’ll head to bed yourself, only to find your little one awake and talking or worse, crying.

To help your kids fall and stay asleep, follow the advice below.

Before Bed

The Sleeping Environment

The sleeping environment should be both safe and conducive to sleep.

Safety is more of a concern for infants. To create a safe sleep environment:

  • Have your baby sleep in your room in a crib with only a tight-fitting sheet
  • Keep any loose bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, etc. away from the baby
  • Make sure they’re laying on their back on a firm surface
  • Have them wear a onesie

For kids of all ages, doing the following for your child’s sleep environment will make falling and staying asleep easier:

  • Keeping the room cool and dark
  • Making the room quiet
  • Removing all distractions from their room

Bedtime Routine

Bedtime routines help your child wind down.

But for a successful bedtime routine, you need to be consistent. Have your child go to bed and wake up at the same time every day no matter what.

Eventually, your child will begin to fall and stay asleep more easily.

Sleep Hygiene

Proper sleep hygiene promotes long and restful sleep.

A big part of sleep hygiene in our modern society is limiting screens before bed. Put away all electronics at least an hour before bedtime to reduce the negative effects on sleep.

Make sure your child hasn’t consumed any caffeine at least 8 hours before bedtime as well, or they’ll be bouncing off the walls.

Aside from those, maintain a safe and relaxing sleep environment.

Bedtime Tips

Hyper Children

Kids seem to be really hyper before bed, thanks to what’s known as the “forbidden zone”, a narrow period in early evening when we feel more awake.

You can’t change when this “forbidden zone” happens, making your bedtime routine and sleep environment all the more important. The association your child forms between their routine and sleep with help them relax, and a good sleep environment will make falling asleep easier.

Nightmares

Nightmares are tough. They tend to occur after a major, difficult life event, although children’s fears can also cause nightmares.

Naturally, have your kid avoid any form of scary media, especially close to bedtime.

In addition, you can help them ward off nightmares by giving them a “special” item (like a stuffed animal) that keeps the bad dreams at bay.

Now, if they have a nightmare, it’ll be hard to help them fall back asleep. However, you can make this easier by doing a few things:

  • Dim night light – A little bit of light won’t hurt their sleep if it helps them feel safe
  • Leave their door cracked
  • Talk about it with them – Discover the root cause of the nightmare, see if you can change it
  • Give them a “special item” as mentioned above

Time Changes

The sudden time changes caused springing forward and falling back can throw your child’s sleep routine off. Help your child by easing them into the transition. Spend a few days adjusting your child’s routine forward or backward by about 15 minutes more each day.

Make sure their sleep environment is at maximum “sleepiness” to help them transition. If you must, wake them up in the morning with a bright light to turn off melatonin production so they’re less groggy.

Vacation time changes are a bit harder because they’re more sudden.

No matter what you do, you’ll have some struggles with getting your child to fall and stay asleep during and after returning from vacation. However, the best you can do is stand firm in your child’s bedtime routine. They will protest going to be early on vacation, but protests now are worth the easy transition later.

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