As parents, we do everything we can to keep our children healthy and happy. We encourage them to eat the right foods and to exercise often. We send them to great schools, where they’ll get a well-rounded education. All the while fostering their creativity and dreaming up adventurous activities to keep them entertained.
But of course, there are some aspects of our children’s lives that seem completely out of our control. For instance, how they sleep. And if your child suffers from a sleep disorder like insomnia, night terrors or sleep apnea, you might feel powerless.
It’s a horrible feeling. Because, as all the sleep advice experts will tell you, sleep is the best way to stay healthy and happy. It strengthens our immune system, keeps us positive and thoughtful and makes every day a joy rather than a strain. And if you’re suddenly aware that your child isn’t sleeping and is falling victim to the consequences of sleep deprivation, it’s a worrying thing.
Fortunately, there are some measures to take to help your child get a sounder sleep no matter what problem they are going through.
If your child is going to bed at a different time every night, it’s no wonder they can’t sleep! Just like adults, kids need routine. Even more so, in fact. Their body clock tells them when they’re hungry, when they’re sleepy and when it’s time to get up. And by bringing in a routine that respects their body clock, you’ll find things just run… well, like clockwork!
So after your evening meal, start the first steps of your routine. Turn off screens like TVs and iPads an hour before bedtime (as the blue light they emit will overstimulate them further). Give your child a bath instead, before changing them into their pjs and reading them a bedtime story. A glass of warm milk can prove quite effective; although skip this if your child has been wetting the bed during the night. To help them relax further, sprinkle a few drops of lavender oil on their pillow (best when they’re a little older).
Stick to this bedtime routine, with a set bedtime at the same time every night. Pretty soon you’ll notice those eyelids getting droopy around storytime, just like they should.
Kids are only longing for an excuse – any excuse! – to stay out of bed. And maybe their sleep problems stem from the fact that there’s simply too much stimulation in their bedroom.
So before bringing them upstairs, make sure to put any toys away; otherwise, they’ll be tempted to jump out of bed and play. Cuddly toys are fine though, as they promote the soothing sleep environment you’re looking for.
Keep lighting soft, either using a dimmer switch or with a bedside lamp. If you like, play some soothing music or nature sounds to create an even more relaxing atmosphere.
The result? Your child will enter a room that’s cosy, welcoming and safe, the perfect sanctuary for a sounder sleep.
Kids have very vivid imaginations. It’s just one of the things that makes them so special. But unfortunately, these imaginations can work against them. They see monsters and witches in everything – that dressing gown over the door, or those toys on the chair, for instance.
If this sounds familiar, it’s time to tackle those demons; with your child, during daylight hours. Ask them where exactly the monster they saw last night was. When they point it out, explain it’s just a pile of clothes and dismantle it, if necessary. Hopefully once your child sees these fears brought up in daylight, and learns that there’s nothing to be frightened of, they’ll settle down more easily when night falls.
If your child is showing no sign of improving, and if you’re worried they have a serious sleep disorder, it might be time to consult a physician. Once you know what the problem is, you can then take steps to ease it, whether it involves changes in lifestyle, in diet, and so on.
The important thing is that you don’t wait too long. Because sleep is so important to your child’s health and happiness; they simply can’t afford to lose out on it.
Hopefully, these tips have shed some light on ways you can improve your child’s sleeping patterns. They’ll wake up feeling rested, more energized and more positive in the face of all the challenges of growing up.
And may you both have a sounder, sweeter sleep as a result. Night night!
Dr. Jacqueline "Jax" Cheung grew up in Sacramento, California. She is a Christian Wife, Proud Mom, Major Foodie, Sacramento Native, Elk Grove Resident, Feminist, Adoption Advocate, Blogger, Freelance Writer, and Cat Lover. Jax is the owner of the award winning Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption Ministry. She is also the Editor-In-Chief of the Elk Grove Tribune, and freelances for Sacramento4Kids, and many other publications. Jax is married to Dr. Kenneth Cheung (Kenny). Jax and Kenny live in Elk Grove, California and have 2 daughters named Roxy and Carissa, and 3 cats named Mochi, Miso, and Mango. To follow her journey please like her Jax Chronicles Facebook page, follow her Instagram @jaxchronicles, follow her Twitter @jaxchronicles, or check out Jax Chronicles Blog & Adoption ministry.