Sleep is crucial for growing kids and their mental and physical development. But for some kids, bedtime can be a struggle, whether they have a hard time falling asleep or they wake up throughout the night. This can be especially stressful on school nights, when parents know that they’ll be dealing with a grumpy, sleepy child in the morning when the alarm goes off.
How can you help your child develop healthy nighttime habits, and get to sleep and stay asleep?
Stanford Children’s Health has these eight tips:
- Make a plan – Whether it’s for your toddler or for your pre-teen, come up with a plan and stick to it. Come up with a soothing, regular routine (that, depending on age, involves some combination of putting on diapers/Pull-Ups, brushing teeth, taking a bath, putting on PJs, singing songs, reading books, and/or rocking). Follow that plan every night, so everyone knows what to expect.
- Spend time together – Some kids put off bedtime because they want more attention from mom or dad. Spend a few focused minutes with your child, talking and asking questions, playing, or just cuddling, where they know they have your undivided attention.
- Stick to the routine – Try not to stray from bedtime or wake up by more than 30-60 minutes. That means getting younger kids to bed before 9:00 (younger kids need 10-12 hours of sleep a night) and discouraging teens from sleeping in too late on the weekends.
- Electronics off – Light from televisions, tablets, and phones before bed stimulates the brain, which is not good when you’re trying to power down for sleep. Screens should go off one to two hours before bedtime.
- Stay positive – Instead of getting frustrated and punishing kids for going to bed too late or waking up too early, try to encourage positive behaviors. Reward kids for waiting until the agreed upon time to get up. Try a sticker chart, a special treat, or 10 minutes of extra game time as a reward. And don’t punish your kids for getting up at night, no matter how frustrating it is. Be consistent and keep walking them back to bed, but try to avoid them forming negative associations with bedtime.
- Keep the bedroom for bedtime – Keep beds and bedrooms only designated for sleeping or resting, whenever possible. This will help form strong sleep associations with the space. The more your child expects to and practices falling asleep in the same place, the easier it will get.
- Diagnose the restless nights – If your child suffers from nightmares, sleepwalking, or sleep terrors, it’s important to try to figure out the cause. Nightmares are common, and as a parent, you can help soothe your child by talking through the nightmares and reminding them that they aren’t real. You can also help them talk through some positive, alternative endings to the nightmares. While nightmares are common and normal, if your child is sleepwalking or experiencing night terrors, have them evaluated by a sleep specialist.
- Be patient – If your little insomniac is still struggling after you’ve done everything, take a deep breath. This won’t last forever. Some children have difficulty sleeping following a big change or new developmental milestone or growth spurt. Some are just tricky sleepers. And remember, you can always bring your sleep concerns to your child’s pediatrician.
And if you’re still stuck after all that, another solution is to use natural supplements to help support your child’s sleep cycle. Three products we recommend are from Herbs for Kids, Herb Pharm, and Little DaVinci.
Herbs for Kids
One great product to help promote school-night sleep is No More Monsters. No More Monsters is a homeopathic formula with support for nightmares, fear of the dark, night terrors, and sleeplessness. No More Monsters is a gentle, all-natural remedy developed specifically for children, with a gentle fruit flavor (with active ingredients calcarea carbonica, kali phosphorica, lycopodium clavatum, passiflora incarnata, and stramonium.)
If your little one needs a little extra support in getting to sleep (or staying asleep), another natural solution is Kids Fast Asleep. Herb Farm’s Kids alcohol-free, certified organic and non-GMO Fast Asleep supports healthy, restful sleep, whether at nighttime or naptime. Kids Fast Asleep is a natural, liquid formula made from ingredients like passionflower, California poppy, lemon balm, chamomile, catnip, and sweet orange essential oil. Just add to water or juice.
Sleep Tight Spray by Little DaVinci is another great tool to have in your all-natural arsenal for bedtime. Doctor formulated Sleep Tight spray provides melatonin, which can help your body get a good night’s rest, naturally. Little DaVinci’s Sleep Tight Spray is perfect for helping kids who have a hard time calming down or relaxing before bedtime. Sleep Tight Spray is non-GMO, alcohol free, and supports normalizing circadian rhythms and the sleep/wake cycle.
How do you help your kids get to sleep on school nights?