If your child isn’t sleeping through the night, you’ve got a bit of a problem. Because even though they might fall asleep easily, you might find that they bound out of bed 30 minutes later needing a glass of water (when they actually want to watch TV with you). Or they’ll come into your room in the middle of the night having had a bad dream. Or they’re up at 5 am, jumping on your bed because they can’t wait to face the day (only to get ratty a few hours later).
The result of all these scenarios is that your child could end up sleep-deprived. (As could you). And this is a big no-no. Because sleep affects our mood, our health and our well-being. It makes us tolerant, kind people instead of irritable, lethargic ones. And well-rested people are simply nicer to be around… so wouldn’t you want that for your kids?! I thought so.
Helping your kids develop better sleeping patterns isn’t that difficult. All it requires is a little bit of forethought, and a little bit of discipline. Small considerations, that can make a big difference to your family life.
So here goes… 5 tips to help your child sleep through the night:
1. Create a soothing bedroom environment
If your kid’s toys are left strewn around the bedroom floor, or if they have lots of shiny things/bright colors to distract them, it’ll be hard to get them to settle down. And pretty hard to get them to stay asleep, once they eventually drop off. But by creating a relaxing environment in their room – with a soft bedside lamp, a cost duvet and soothing colors – they’re more inclined to want that sleepy time. Don’t forget to put their toys away, then they won’t be tempted to clamor out of bed to play with them in the middle of the night.
2. Establish a pre-bedtime routine
You can extend this soothing environment to the rest of the house, too. After dinner, dim the lights, keep any music to a low volume and switch off the TV at least half an hour before bedtime. Use this time to gently wind your child down… give them a bath, read them a story and enjoy some quality time free from any overly stimulating elements. Do this at the same time every night – pretty soon they’ll realize that bedtime isn’t far away, and that it’s time to settle down.
3. Nip any fears in the bud
To prevent late-night/early-morning wakings from a scared child, test out their room for yourself. See what could be scaring them, like the clothes on that chair, or those creaky noises from downstairs. Then when your child runs into your room, you’ll be able to explain calmly the practical reason behind each irrational fear. Once they know you’ve tried and tested it, and that you’re not scared, they’re more likely to feel calm about bedtime.
If they still refuse to believe that there aren’t monsters in the closet, you could make a game out of it. Say “goodnight, monster!” to all the monsters in the room, assure your child that they’ll sleep well through the night and give them the comfort they need to fall asleep.
4. Lead by example
If you’re staying up late to watch TV, chances are your kids will want to be there too. After all, why do you get to watch multiple episodes of your favorite show when they only get to watch one?!
Fair enough. Because in fact, binge-watching Netflix isn’t doing your sleep any favors, either. So switch off the TV after allowing yourself one show, follow your own pre-bedtime routine and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Your child won’t be tempted to emerge out of their room if you’re tucked up in bed, too.
5. Offer a rewards scheme
While I’d never suggest outright bribing your child, there is a lot to be said for positive reinforcement. Like rewarding them for good behavior. One trick you can try, if your child won’t sleep through the night, is create a sticker chart. Every time they sleep through until morning, they get a sticker. And at the end of the week, if they’ve got a full line of stickers, they get a treat… like pancakes for breakfast, or a trip to the zoo. In their minds, sleeping through the night will suddenly seem like a wonderful idea!
Well, there are my top tips for helping your kids sleep better but if you need any more, discover what the guys from The Sleep Adviser say about sleep. I hope that my advice, and their advice, works out for your child – and that you in turn can get the great sleep you deserve!