Trouble falling asleep at night isn't an issue faced only by adults. Kids of all ages can struggle to fall- and stay- asleep at night, too. While a lot of adults can explain their sleep issues as anxiety or stress related, kids are a bit more complicated. Sure, some kids may have anxiety or stress that keeps them awake, but there are plenty of other potential factors keeping these youngsters up at night.
From lack of a bedtime routine to having too much screen time, you may be surprised at what's keeping your child awake each night. We've gathered 10 tips to help you and your little one get better rest at night, which may be as simple as a sound machine or having a talk with their pediatrician.
10 Talk With Them
Much like adults, kids can suffer from stress or anxiety and it can impact how well they sleep at night. They may worry about school, or the fact they are having trouble sleeping, or perhaps they are having issues with peers. These are all things adults can address to help kids resolve the conflict and hopefully get better sleep.
Of course, young children may be dealing with nightmares that wake them up during the night, which may result in them having trouble falling back asleep. Perhaps their anxieties stem from separation from others at bedtime. Once again, you won't know how to best help your child unless you talk with them about what may be going on.
9 Don't Let Them Spend Too Much Time In Bed Awake
Limiting how much time your child spends in bed during non-sleeping hours is important. The more time they spend in bed awake, the harder it can be for them to use the bed for its intended purpose: sleeping. In fact, it's been said people should get up and out of bed when they are having trouble sleeping at night instead of tossing and turning.
Of course, this may not be ideal for parents to have their child roaming the house at late hours. However, allowing them to have a light snack and read a story instead of laying awake in bed may help them get back to sleep faster.
8 Talk With Their Pediatrician
If sleep troubles persist or even get worse, it's a good idea to consult your child's pediatrician. Your child may be dealing with anxiety or a sleep disorder your doctor will be able to diagnose.
You can also discuss possible sleep supplements, such as melatonin, with your pediatrician. As always, it's recommended to talk with your child's doctor before giving them sleep remedies.
7 Keep The Pets Away
This one may seem a bit confusing at first as adults find snuggling with pets a helpful way to fall asleep. However, as much as we love them, pets can make it hard to get a good night's rest. Think about how many times your pet moves during the night, how often your dog barks, and how much room they take up in bed.
These are the same issues your child may face if they fall asleep with pets in bed as well. Not only can sleeping with pets make it harder for kids to fall asleep, but it also may make it more difficult to stay asleep.
6 Make Sure They're Getting Enough Physical Exercise
An active child will be more worn out by the end of the day than one who tends to be sedentary. However, too much exercise close to bedtime can work to increase your child's energy instead of lower it.
So, it's important to keep your kid active throughout the day to burn up their energy and help them rest better at night.
5 Avoid Screen Time A Few Hours Before Bedtime
It can be tough not to allow kids to play on their iPads for hours after school, after all, we're all tired and trying to get things done after work. However, this is not in their best interest for a few reasons.
One important aspect of too much screen time is trouble sleeping. As recommended for adults as well, turning off the electronics a couple of hours before bedtime is encouraged. Screens emit a blue light that can be stimulating and confusing to our sleep cycle. Instead, focus on a bedtime routine sans screen time for a better night's rest.
4 Afternoon Snacking Is Important
Skipping caffeine and sugar at night may be a no-brainer, but limiting your child's caffeine and sugar intake several hours before bed is ideal. It's recommended they don't eat anything with caffeine, including chocolate, six hours before bedtime.
In fact, it's recommended to focus on protein and fiber for dinner to help keep your child feeling full throughout the night. Milk is also a good option as it contains nutrients to help the sleep cycle.
3 Make Sure Their Room Is Comfortable
Allowing your child to sleep with one or two stuffed toys can be a comfort at night. However, when your child's bed becomes so crowded with toys they have a hard time getting comfortable, then maybe it's time to make some adjustments.
In addition to making their bed cozy, provide a nightlight if your child needs one, let them pick out bedding they like, and make sure their room isn't cluttered, which can add to the stress.
2 Have A Bedtime Routine
It's important to have a constant bedtime routine for kids, especially those who have trouble sleeping. Routines can include a relaxing bath, story time, talking about their day, or even a casual stroll after dinner to help wind down the day.
Once a routine is established, starting it each evening should prepare your child's mind and body for sleep as they're conditioned for bedtime.
1 Use A Sound Machine
As simple as it sounds, providing white noise can help your child fall asleep faster and stay asleep. Not only does it help mask outside noises, but it also provides a soothing sound to lull their little ones to sleep.
However, you should be picky when choosing a noise machine as fans can dry out the air in your child's bedroom and music can be too stimulating to actually help kids sleep. Go with a sound machine that plays a constant rhythm or download an app to your phone to try out first.