Mom, I Can’t Sleep!
If you hear “I can’t sleep” at your house fairly often, it may be time to take a look at your child’s sleep hygiene. Here are some tips to try so that your child — and the whole family — can get a better night’s sleep.
Source: Seattle Children’s Hospital
- Keep consistent bedtimes and wake times every day of the week. Late weekend nights and sleeping in can throw off a sleep schedule for days.
- Avoid allowing your child to spend a lot of non-sleep time in bed. Spending hours lying on the bed doing other activities, such as homework or playing with electronics, keeps the brain from associating the bed with sleep time.
- Turn the clock away from your child’s view while she is in bed.
- Make the bedroom cool, quiet and comfortable.
- Include physical exercise in your child’s day to help with sleep time hours later.
- Avoid caffeine (sodas, chocolate, tea, etc.) in your child’s diet in the afternoons and evenings.
- Put your child to bed drowsy but still awake. Letting a child fall asleep in other places forms habits that are difficult to break.
- Security objects, such as a stuffed animal or blanket, are often helpful for children who need a transition to feel safe and secure when their parent isn’t present. Try to include the stuffed animal or blanket when you cuddle or comfort your child, which may help him or her adopt the object.
- When checking on your child at night, make the visit “brief and boring.” The purpose is simply to reassure the child that you are present and he is OK.
- Keep a sleep diary to track naps, sleep times and activities to find patterns and target problems. If sleep problems continue, share the sleep diary when discussing the situation with your child’s doctor.