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7 Tips on Better Sleep

Contributors: Jen deWeen (R.N.) • Dawne Yusi (M. Ed.) • Lily Law 

Are your kids tossing and turning? Having bad dreams? Or are you just wondering if your kids could be sleeping even better? Adequate sleep improves attention, behavior, memory, emotions, and mental & physical health (and for your kiddo too 😂). Here are 7 tips to help you set your kids up for successful sleep. For reference, here is AAP’s (American Academy of Pediatrics) and AASM’s (American Academy of Sleep Medicine) recommended hours of sleep by age:

Age
3 to 5 years
6 to 12 years
13+ years

Hours per day
10-13
9-12
8-10

Good Morning SUNSHINE

Sunlight helps calibrate the body’s internal clock. Simply seeing daylight triggers the brain to switch body functions to daytime mode. Going outside in the morning will help suppress the body's natural melatonin, which will help your child feel wide awake and alert during the day. The body will more naturally respond to nighttime and the dark by appropriately releasing melatonin triggering those yawns!

🐦    Go for a short walk in the morning (maybe it’s time to consider that puppy… haha!)

🐦    Eat breakfast outside or near a window with lots of natural light

🐦    Choose outdoor activities over screen time

Finding the Sweet Spot

Comfort is key to a good night sleep. Consider the bedding materials, pajama quality, detergents, and room temperatures, airflow, and light levels in your child’s room. Uncomfortable conditions can lead to poor sleep. Every child is different so experiment with the contributing factors that may help improve sleep for each child.

🐦    Try the Morning Bird organic cotton sheets

🐦    Consider detergents and fabric softeners that are free from dyes, perfumes, and other chemicals

🐦    Adjust temperatures and layers of clothes/blankets to find the “sweet spot” for your child

MUNCH-kins

Provide your child with good quality, healthy food so that their body gets enough healthy calories. Quality, healthy food will help your child better know when they are hungry or full. Junk food and unhealthy meals can do the opposite making it easier to overeat or skip meals. When they go to bed too hungry or too full, they'll feel uncomfortable and alert.

🐦     Try a small snack high in protein and/or fiber at bedtime

🐦     Cut out caffeine

🐦     Milk contains melatonin and if your child does not have a sensitivity to dairy, a small warm glass of milk can also be soothing in preparation for the bedtime routine

QT with Your Cutie

Spending quality time (QT) with your child before bedtime helps your child wind down and shows them they are in a safe place. This sense of comfort will help them let their guard down and the stressors from the day will seem a bit further away. This will also cue your child’s body to transition to sleeptime. Quality time will help your child clear their mind making way for worry free sleep.

🐦     Have Alexa or Siri remind you it’s QT (Quality Time) with your cutie

🐦     Be present. Put the phone down, listen, ask questions. Say “I Love you, I’m proud of you for…”

🐦     Smile and be positive, even if you had a rough day. YOUR stress does not belong to your child

Screening SCREEN TIME

The blue light on screen stimulates the brain, making it a struggle to fall asleep. Screen time inhibits the hormones that make you sleepy. Ideally, children should put away their screens at least 1-2 hours before bedtime.

🐦     Create a charging station outside the bedroom for phones and tablets

🐦     Move TV’s and computers out of the bedroom

🐦     Create a buffer time between the end of screen time and lights out

Got Wiggles?

Being active during the day helps release endorphins that help your child manage emotions when they get tired in the evenings. We all know that exercise creates healthy bodies, but did you know healthy bodies lead to healthy bodily function which leads to better sleep? Got Wiggles? Help your child find opportunities throughout the day to be active and shake, rattle, and roll.

🐦     Exercise through play - create an obstacle course on the jungle gym, play soccer, ride bikes, etc.

🐦     Be active with your kids - set the example

🐦     Create a buffer time between the end of screen time and lights out

Establish a Smooth Bedtime Routine

Read more for 6 Ways to Make Bedtime Go More Smoothly...