Teaching Your Child the ABCs of Getting Good ZZZs
If silence is golden, sleep is paradise. Most new parents will tell you about the importance of sleep, especially if they’re not getting enough. Teaching your child to sleep, however, can be more difficult than it sounds. Getting to sleep and staying asleep can sometimes be difficult for little ones – the ABC’s of getting good ZZZs doesn’t come naturally to all of us. Below are some tips to help you and your child get a good night’s rest.
Get in the mood for sleep
Unwinding from the day takes a little time. All that playing and learning can often leave kids tired and their heads buzzing! A regular wind-down routine can help the mind calm down as well as prepare the body for sleep. If your child finds it difficult to get to sleep, it’s worth including a warm bath in your bedtime routine and even a snack.
Some foods trigger hormone and chemical responses that can reduce alertness and help prepare us for bed. Try giving banana or peanut butter on wholemeal toast as a pre-bedtime snack. Bananas are high in potassium – an essential mineral for achieving a deep night’s sleep plus they have tryptophan and magnesium, making them nature’s answer to sleeping pills. Nuts increase serotonin levels and are an excellent source of magnesium and tryptophan too.
Create an inviting bedtime space
Our bedroom should be a place that we naturally relax. The temperature, lighting, and comfort of the bed, all impact the ability to sleep well.
Ensure the bedroom is not too warm – somewhere between 60 to 67°F – is perfect.
Bedroom lighting shouldn’t be too ‘blue’ at bedtime – blue hued lights increase our alertness, warmer hues such as red and amber, help us to relax and wind-down. There are a number of different light bulbs that adjust their light to the time of day either with a sensor or preprogramming.
The bed should be comfortable – not too soft, hard, big or small. Make sure there’s room for your child to fully extend their legs and wriggle their toes, but that the bed isn’t SO big they feel a little lost in it. For older children, it can be helpful to get them involved in choosing their next ‘big-kid bed’. Allowing children to be involved in creating their optimal sleep space can increase their commitment to a good night’s sleep, feel empowered about their ability to sleep better and impress upon them the importance of sleep.
Staying sleep (in their own bed)
Some children drop off to sleep without a problem and it’s not until the midnight hours when you’re trying to catch some ZZZs yourself that the pitter-patter of little feet disturbs your slumber.
There are many reasons kids don’t sleep the night through in their own beds. Fortunately, for most problems there is an answer.
Some of us are simply light sleepers, white noise can help with night waking. Low-pitch droning and hypnotic sounds played softly in your child’s room are soothing, helping to mask other noises which may cause them to wake. Interestingly, these are similar to the noises we hear in the womb.
If your child has bedtime fears, address them by purchasing a new toy that can keep watch all through the night, or spraying the room with monster spray (an aerosol can with a creative label should do the trick).
Early wake-up calls can be just as bad as night-time wandering! Try using a nightlight/OK to wake clock. The Gro-clock night light turns out stars as wake-time gets closer, changing to a sun when it’s OK to wake. The Mirari emits a warm yellow glow at night and turns green when it’s OK to wake.