I’ve done a lot of things in my life that tested my strength and willpower.
I’ve fasted for 3 days which might not seem like a big deal unless you’re used to having a donut for breakfast, turkey sandwich for lunch, and delicious homemade pizza for dinner.
I’ve trained for a marathon and let me tell you the people on TV make it look much easier than it is.
I’ve given birth. You already know the challenge of that.
However, none of these compare to figuring out how to maintain through several weeks and months of terrible sleep.
I own 4 dogs. I owned dogs before I had any children and when you get a puppy it takes it a little bit of time to figure out when it needs to sleep and when it can act crazy around the house.
With each new dog, it got a little bit easier since it would follow the other dogs’ patterns.
Unless you’re having twins/triplets/octuplets then kids don’t like to follow the pattern of their siblings.
Kids live in a different Universe where their sleep schedule is their own and if you can’t quickly figure out quickly how to get them on a decent sleep schedule then life as you know it is over.
Sleep Is Imporant For Everybody
When you have kids all of the thinking is that you are going to do everything possible to ensure they live a healthy lifestyle. However, we usually forget that it is hard to do that if we ourselves don’t remain healthy.
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight then you know that lack of sleep can be something that prevents weight loss.
And I don’t know the scientific terminology but lack of sleep can drive you absolutely insane.
You grow multiple personalities and time simply becomes some random idea that was made up by lunatics.
So as important as it is to get your kids to sleep well, it’s equally as important to ensure you do the same.
10 Simple Tips to Get Your Kids to Sleep
Every kid is different and that should go without saying.
What works really well for one kid won’t work as well for another. Simple fact of life.
If it was that easy then this blog post would be The One Tip You Need to Get Your Kid to Sleep. It would be one sentence and you would be off to the movies with a bottle of wine in your purse.
But because kids have to be the most difficult things on this planet, you will probably need more than one tip to help get your kid to sleep.
No worries, that’s why there are 10 here.
1. Set an Individualized Bedtime
School-age children need between 9 and 12 hours of sleep each night which is about 5 hours less than I need.
However, there is a lot of variability in sleep patterns and needs. Just like you some kids are simply hard-wired a certain way.
My husband is an early riser. It doesn’t matter what time he goes to bed he is going to be up before 6 am.
I’m a bit different. If you installed blackout curtains in my room you would need a defibrillator to wake me up.
Kids are the same way. Some are just early risers and nothing is going to change that.
In contrast, a night owl will sleep when their body tells them it is time to sleep.
So what can you do? You just have to figure out how much sleep your child needs and then make sure you set an appropriate bedtime for them.
2. Set a Wake-Up Time
So you figured out how many hours they need to sleep so you need to figure out when they are going to get up.
It’s nice to just let your kid sleep in because that means either you can sleep in as well or you can get more stuff down around the house.
The problem with this is twofold:
- Letting your kid sleep in will mean they probably won’t go to bed when you need them to later which can start a vicious cycle that is hard to break out of.
- It teaches bad habits. You don’t want your child to grow up to be a teenager that sleeps in and is late for school every day. Good habits start early.
Set a wake-up time and stick to it. Even on weekends and holidays.
3. Have a Consistent Bedtime Routine
Kids are no different than animals when it comes to routines. Routines are especially important for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Doing specific things before bed, like a bath and story time, signals to your child what is coming next.
It’s very similar to when you see wine and candles on the table. You know what is coming next.
For a child knowing what comes next is comforting and relaxing which can set the mood for the perfect bedtime. Before you know it your child’s body will automatically start to become sleep at the beginning of their routine.
It’s like magic.
4. Turn Off the TV at Least Two Hours Before Bedtime
This one is just as hard for adults as it is kids.
Sometimes when it’s hard for me to fall asleep I’ll spend time on my iPhone browsing Facebook or playing solitaire. That was until one day I discovered that the fancy blue light that my awesome little device emits keeps my brain awake making it even harder for me to fall asleep.
Light from electronic displays, like TV, can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is an important piece of sleep-wake cycles. It’s no wonder why it is a popular dietary supplement to take to help people fall asleep. Sometimes I have to take it to help me fall asleep when my brain won’t shut off. I call them my happy pills.
When melatonin levels are at their highest, people become sleepy and ready for bed. An extra half hour of TV before bed can keep your child up an extra two hours.
Logic would dictate you throw your TV out the window but then you wouldn’t find out who gets to hoist the coveted Master Chef trophy each season.
5. Reduce Stress Before Bedtime
My mom always had trouble sleeping because she was always stressed.
When you’re stressed your cortisol (another pesky hormone) levels rise. When cortisol levels are high, your child’s body won’t be able to shut down and go to sleep.
This means you shouldn’t blare loud music and flash strobe lights before bed. Keeping your before bedtime activities calm with the lights dim. This can help to prevent excessive amounts of cortisol in your child’s system.
If your bedtime routine involves story time then you can incorporate a dim night light that will help your child fall asleep. In this case, you should choose a night light with a red bulb to help stimulate sleep.
I’m a big fan of the VAVA Baby Night Light because it allows you to adjust both brightness and color.
Plus it’s shaped like an egg. How cool is that?
If you want a night light with a bit more personality then check out the GLIME LED Night Light. Who wouldn’t be able to fall asleep with a fat cat looking at them?
6. Create a Sleep-Inducing Environment
Have you ever tried to fall asleep in a club? It’s pretty hard, trust me I’ve tried.
To help your child fall asleep you need to create an environment that is helpful for them. This means that one stuffed animal works better than a million on their bed.
If you really want to help your child differentiate between day time and night time then consider getting them a sound machine. Because we talked about night lights earlier, you can actually get a pretty cool night light and sound machine combo that will actually project stars onto the ceiling.
I think I might get me one of these right now.
7. Temperature Affects Your Child’s Sleep
Yes, there is something else that plays a role in your child’s sleep and that is temperature.
Our good friend melatonin helps to regulate the drop of internal body temperature but you need to help control external temperature.
Don’t bundle your child up too tightly or set the heat too high. You want to keep it at typical room temperature or a little cooler to help promote quality sleep.
If you’re wondering what typical room temperature is, it can vary from house to house along with different seasons. Living in Nevada you just want to keep your house around 78-80 but in the Winter if you can maintain 72-74 then you are happy.
8. Address Their Sleep Fears
If your child tells you about a bedtime fear that they have you shouldn’t dismiss it.
Instead, sit down and talk to them about it. If simple reassurance doesn’t work then you can buy a toy that will guard and protect them.
9. Reduce the Focus On Sleep
Nobody likes to perform under pressure and the same holds true for kids.
Instead of pressuring them to fall asleep do your best to fous more on the idea of relaxation and claming your child’s body down.
10. Keep an Eye Out for Sleep Disorders
If after all of these tips things aren’t improving then your child might have a sleep disorder. The best tip to offer here is to talk to their pediatrician.
Getting Your Child to Sleep
Getting your child to sleep is as much about routines for them as they are for you. If you can’t understand how to get yourself to fall asleep then you are going to have a hard time getting your kid to sleep.
Create the most relaxed environment possible and focus on nightly routines to help get them into the habit of falling asleep peacefully and staying like that.
If you want to learn more about helping your baby sleep then check out these thigns that I use to help me and baby sleep better.