Article – Helping Children with Sleep

There are a number of things you can try to help children sleep better:

  1. Establish a bedtime routine: This can include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to calming music.
  2. Make the bedroom sleep-friendly: Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and consider using a white noise machine to drown out any external noise.
  3. Avoid screens before bedtime: The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt sleep, so it’s a good idea to avoid screens (such as TVs, phones, and tablets) for at least an hour before bedtime.
  4. Keep a consistent sleep schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  5. Encourage relaxation: Help your child relax before bedtime by teaching them relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation.
  6. Don’t let your child get too hungry or too full: A light snack before bedtime can help your child sleep, but a large meal may disrupt sleep.
  7. Avoid caffeine and sugar before bedtime: These substances can interfere with sleep, so it’s best to avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime.

1.  Bedtime Routines

Here are some more details on establishing a bedtime routine:

  1. Start the routine at the same time every night: This helps your child’s body get into a sleep routine.  And don’t think that an early night is necessary what their body is looking for.
  2. Make the routine relaxing: The activities you include in the routine should be calming and enjoyable for your child.  This could include a favourite cartoon to watch before bed.
  3. Keep the routine short and simple: A bedtime routine should take about 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. Be consistent: Stick to the same routine every night to signal to your child that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
  5. Gradually transition to sleep: As you get closer to bedtime, include activities that are more calming and relaxing. For example, you might start with a fun activity like reading a story, then transition to a quieter activity like taking a warm bath. This bath could include magnesium salts.  But test these salts out on a weekend daytime first – as for some children, they are alerting.

2.  Sleep-Friendly Rooms

Here are some tips for making the bedroom sleep-friendly:

  1. Keep the room cool: A comfortable room temperature for sleep is around 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fans are great for this, it also aids with white noise.
  2. Make the room dark: Use heavy curtains or blinds to block out any external light, or consider using a sleep mask.
  3. Keep the room quiet: Use white noise or a fan to drown out any external noise that might disrupt sleep.  Or using calming nature sounds on Spotify/YouTube.
  4. Avoid electronics in the bedroom: TVs, phones, and tablets should be kept out of the bedroom to avoid the temptation to use them before bed.
  5. Make the bed comfortable: Use a comfortable mattress and pillows, and consider using a mattress topper or pillow topper for added comfort.  Add weight to the bed, or a wrap around it – this helps the child feel safe.
  6. Use comfortable bedding: Choose bedding made from breathable, natural materials like cotton or linen.
  7. Stories:  Having a known audible storybook that the child has listened to a number of times, can be very soothing.  It also blocks out external noises of traffic or movement in the house
  8. Eye Masks/Tent:  Eye masks are great for those that see movement in the shadows at night – or purchasing a night tent that wraps around the bed.  That feeling of safety is wonderful.
  9. Heavy Blankets:  You can’t beat heavy or weighted blankets to help you body relax and feel calmer
  10. Having a humidifier in room: Use essential oils such as lavender, which creates calmness.

3.  Screen Time

Here are some additional tips for avoiding screens before bedtime:

  1. Set a bedtime for screens: Establish a time when screens must be turned off, such as 30 minutes or an hour before bedtime.
  2. Keep screens out of the bedroom: To avoid the temptation to use screens before bed, keep TVs, phones, and tablets out of the bedroom.
  3. Use screen time management tools: Many devices have built-in tools that allow you to set limits on screen time or block certain apps or websites.
  4. Encourage other activities before bed: Instead of screens, encourage your child to do other activities before bed, such as reading a book, listening to music, or practicing relaxation techniques.
  5. Use blue light filters: Some devices have built-in blue light filters that can reduce the amount of blue light emitted by screens.

4.  Consistency

Here are some additional tips for keeping a consistent sleep schedule:

  1. Stick to a regular bedtime and wake-up time: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  2. Avoid naps: Napping during the day can disrupt your child’s sleep schedule, so it’s best to avoid napping if possible.
  3. Gradually adjust the sleep schedule: If you need to change your child’s sleep schedule, do it gradually by moving bedtime and wake-up time by 15-30 minutes each day.
  4. Use an alarm clock: An alarm clock can help your child wake up at the same time every day.
  5. Avoid stimulating activities before bed: Activities that are stimulating (such as playing video games or watching TV) can make it harder to fall asleep, so it’s best to avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime.

5.  Relaxation

Here are some additional tips for encouraging relaxation before bedtime:

  1. Teach your child deep breathing: Deep breathing is a simple relaxation technique that can help calm the mind and body. To practice deep breathing, your child can lie on their back and place one hand on their stomach and the other on their chest. They should then take slow, deep breaths, focusing on the sensation of the breath moving in and out of the body.
  2. Try progressive muscle relaxation: Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body to help relax the mind and body. To practice this technique, your child can start by tensing the muscles in their feet for a few seconds, then relaxing them and moving on to the muscles in their legs, and so on.  You can also purchase a guided session here.
  3. Encourage your child to imagine a peaceful scene: Encourage your child to close their eyes and imagine a peaceful scene, such as a beach or a forest. They can use all of their senses to imagine what the scene looks like, sounds like, smells like, and feels like.  You can also use our meditation pack to help you.
  4. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Encourage your child to focus on their breath, their body, or their surroundings.  Our guided relaxation scripts can help you with this.

If You’ve Tried Everything!

If you have tried everything on this list and your child is still struggling – then pop along to our next training session, with specialist trainer Nickie Sutton

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