Everyone who is the parent of a young child knows just how important it is to ensure that they get a good night’s sleep consistently. Poor sleep can lead to grogginess, irritability, and general tiredness throughout the day for your young one. Furthermore, being overtired due to poor sleep can make it even more difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep in the future.
Ultimately, there are a variety of things that can be causing restless sleep. Some issues might be dietary in nature in that certain foods can cause acid reflux or heartburn in the night. Others could result from a certain medical issue that you are unaware of, such as obstructive sleep apnea. If you suspect that your child is suffering from a medical issue, it is important to seek their pediatrician’s advice right away.
That being said, the majority of the most common reasons that young children struggle to sleep well are simple and easily handled at home. Some kids have a harder time settling down than others, while some are light sleepers, which can be awoken by the slightest of sounds.
If you are looking for ways to help your young one get the sleep they need on a nightly basis, here are five things that you can consider doing that can help them.
1. Use a Weighted Blanket
The science behind the use of weighted blankets for sleep is quite promising. Many adults use these special blankets to help their bodies and mind relax enough to sleep properly through the night. As long as your child is over the age of two and is already used to sleeping with a blanket and pillow at night, a weighted blanket can be a safe and simple way to help them sleep better.
When you are looking for weighted blankets for kids, make sure to get one that uses properly distributed weight, and that isn’t too heavy for their size and weight. The right blanket will apply just enough pressure so that your child’s body releases serotonin. This is a naturally occurring hormone that the body releases during its sleep cycles. The result is a more calm and relaxed state so that your child can fall asleep and stay asleep easier.
2. Set a Routine
When your child was a baby, you likely had a routine set at bedtime that you stuck to as often as possible. However, this routine might have fallen a bit by the wayside as your child became older and more independent. Even though independence in the evening and at bedtime is a good thing for your child to have, if they are struggling to fall asleep at night, then they might benefit from a more structured routine.
By setting a consistent routine for each night, you help instill certain triggers that indicate to your child’s mind and body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Something as simple as a bath followed by a store and a lullaby can be enough to help your young child find the right bedtime routine. The sense of consistency will naturally comfort their mind so that they can relax and prepare for a good night’s rest.
3. Avoid Lights Near Bedtime
Your child might be finding it difficult to get good sleep because they are being exposed to too much light too close to bedtime. Light is an instant trigger to the brain to be alert and stay awake. Even artificial light can cause this to happen, and the blue light from screens is one of the worst culprits.
Try instigating a new rule that all screens must be shut off and put away at least two hours (or more, if you can manage it) before bedtime. You should also dim the lights throughout the house so that your child is not exposed to too much light before bed. While nightlights are perfectly fine, make sure that the one in your child’s room is not too bright. With such practices in place, you should find that your child does not struggle so much to fall asleep.
4. Use White Noise
If your child is the type who sleeps so lightly that even the smallest noise in the house or outside their window is enough to wake them, then you might need to find some way of drowning out such noises. A great option in such cases can be a white noise machine. The noticeable yet unobtrusive type of noise should be enough to drown out whatever sounds are waking your child.
If the actual sound of white noise is not very relaxing for your young one, consider soft rain sounds or something similar to help lull them to sleep. Their brains will automatically focus in on such sounds and not notice when other random noises occur throughout the night.
5. Make Sure They Aren’t Too Warm
When a person falls asleep, their internal body temperature drops as the body produces melatonin. This is another hormone that the body produces when it is asleep. You can help encourage the release of melatonin by keeping your child’s room temperature cool. It is also a good idea to ensure that they are not wrapped up too warmly at bedtime.
Try lighter, softer pajamas for them to sleep in that will not trap in too much body heat. You should also turn down the heat so that their room does not become too warm or stuffy throughout the night. Their bedding should also be breathable enough so that they do not get too hot.
Furthermore, make sure that bedtime is not immediately preceded by too much activity. If your child has just come in from running around outside, you cannot expect them to be able to fall asleep right away as their internal body temperature will already be higher than normal. Make sure that they have enough time to calm down after playtime before they start their nighttime routine.