Being a parent is hard, and as all parents should know, it’s a common occurrence for children to be too worried to go to sleep sometimes. In fact, almost a third of school-aged children find it difficult to get to sleep and remain asleep throughout the night.
Well-known causes of this are; worry, stress or anxiety in some shape or form. We’re sure, that if you’re a parent, you will know, but when children don’t sleep, neither do their parents. This can equate to the entire home becoming a disrupted, agitated, overtired muddle.
Worry will actually be one of the main factors that prevent children from getting a sound night’s sleep, so in effect, it’s a vicious circle. It’s not nice to think about your child worrying, even as far as much as several hours before they head to bed that they won’t be able to nod off or stay asleep.
Of course, as a parent, you are aware that it’s not rational thinking, but once children have something in their heads, there’s no reasoning with them. For this reason, you should consider introducing some or all of the points we’ve included below to help to break the worry cycle.
Here are six ways to get your child to stop worrying and get enough sleep:
Ditch the Devices
You’ll see this advice banded around in almost every article similar to this one, and for good reason. You simply need to avoid all digital devices for a minimum of one to two hours leading up to bedtime.
The blue light that is emitted from screens prevents the body’s natural melatonin release, meaning that falling asleep just becomes harder to do.
Tucking them in is Just the Thing!
It’s a classic one, and it shouldn’t be dying out any time soon. The act of tucking your child into a comfortable bed is a great one to have in your routine.
You can sit on the bed when your child is under the sheets and have a chat about what it is on their minds. Allow a certain amount of time; maybe 5-10 minutes to talk, and then when the cut-off time comes, that has to be it.
There should be no wavering on this, but to make sure, just let your child know in advance that this is what’s going to happen, but you want to enjoy some special time before they drift off. Hopefully, this will sooth them, as they do listen (most of the time!).
Remember to listen as opposed to talking more than your child as this can often cure their issues alone! Slip in some kind, wise words when you get the right chance, and this will go a long way. And don’t forget, if you need help with finding the right kind of bed to tuck them into, the Sleep Advisor can assist you with that.
Routine is Everything
Keep in mind the toddler bedtime routine you established when they were younger. Bath, brushing teeth, bedtime story, Land of Nod. You know your routine, and they know it too. Humans love routine, so your school-age child will still crave it, even if they don’t think they do.
Simply find what works for all of you and stick with it.
Self-Regulate Their Bedtime
This sounds like a crazy one but hear it out! As a parent, your role is to put your little one to bed, but it’s not up to you to force them to fall asleep.
You should keep their time of being woken up in the morning as consistent as possible, but if your child can’t sleep, give them chance to read while they’re lying in bed, for example. Do this with a real book, not anything digital.
Dim the lights to an ambient setting, or have them turned off, then leave them to it after you’ve tucked them in and had your bedtime chat.
Stop the Stimulants
Energy drinks are becoming more difficult for children to access, and rightly so. Don’t let them have access to them as there’s simply no need. A cola or other similar sugary fizzy drink should be reserved as a treat.
The caffeine in these drinks, not to mention hidden stimulants snacks like chocolate and other sweets can easily lead to disrupted sleep come bedtime. This is because they might suffer from sugar crashes during the day, leading to naps which mean they’re not tired at bedtime.
Make the Room a Sanctuary
Just as you would want to make your own bedroom as comfy, cosy environment, you should do the same for your child’s bedroom space too.
Soft, ambient colours can be used, unless they insist on a certain wallpaper of their favourite action hero, or TV character, for example. If it helps them to sleep, then roll with it.
A night light can help. And when teamed with a cool, but not cold room, along with comfy bedding, you’re helping to create a sleep-inducing space they’ll love!
This feature was written in association with SleepAdvisor.