How to Teach Your Kids About Sleep Hygiene

Does your child struggle with sleeping at night? Maybe they hate saying goodnight, prolonging the bedtime routine with "one more book" or "hold my hand as I fall asleep." Perhaps your child can't sleep in their bed and needs to lie next to you to rest. As parents, we’ve all been there.

Read our helpful guide and learn from these seven practical tips if you're looking to improve your child's sleep hygiene.

child sleeping

1. Explain the Importance of Sleep
Before you make changes to your child’s bedtime schedule, ensure they understand the importance of sleep hygiene. Depending on your child's age, they might not yet know why they rest at night, beyond feeling tired.

Explain that sleep is critical for your brain and body to function correctly.

● Brain: Your brain needs a good night of sleep so you can concentrate, remember what you learned, think of new ideas, and solve problems.

● Body: During rest, your body works to keep you healthy by fighting sickness. Your muscles, bones, and skin grow. If you have a cut or injury, your body will heal that damaged part.

When your child better comprehends the importance of rest, they'll be more apt to adopt a bedtime routine and other changes you impose to improve their sleep hygiene.

2. Set Up a Bedtime Routine

The best way to help your child learn sleep hygiene is to set up a bedtime routine and stick to it every night. Children thrive on rituals and need consistency to feel more secure and confident. When your child learns their bedtime routine, they'll experience less stress about going to sleep, and any bedtime separation anxiety from being away from mom and dad will soon become a thing of the past.

Research has proven children sleep better when they have the same sleep and wake time every day, even on the weekends. Getting consistent sleep each day of the week is documented as benefiting children's development in early childhood and beyond.

3. Avoid Blue Light
Explain to your child that the blue light found in computer screens, phones, and tablets can cause long-term damage to the eyes because they have no natural filter to its high energy. The biggest documented issue blue light causes is interruptions in sleep habits. If your child uses a device with blue light too close to bedtime, it could confuse their brain, making it think it's still daytime.

Health experts call for everyone to avoid blue light devices two to three hours before bed. If your child needs to do homework in the evenings, consider purchasing blue-light-blocking lenses to further protect your child's eyes and sleep hygiene. You can also install apps on your child's laptop or tablet to filter out harmful light.

4. Make Your Child’s Room Comfy
To help your child transition to bedtime quickly, ensure their room is well-suited to rest. An ideal sleep environment is dark, cool, and comfortable. Consider putting up blackout curtains to keep the light out of your child's room. If you notice your child wakes quickly when hearing sounds in your home, experiment with a white noise machine or a fan.

Make sure your child feels comfortable in their bed by giving them a security stuffy or blanket they can cuddle with once you leave the room. All these factors will contribute to a good night of sleep.

5. Ensure Your Child Gets Plenty of Exercise

Another great way to help your child sleep better is to guarantee they have opportunities for exercise during the day.

If they can get moving earlier in the day, this can help their focus and alertness throughout the duration. It also helps them fall and stay asleep when the time comes. However, avoid having your child exercise right before bedtime, which can keep them awake longer.

6. Do Relaxing Activities Before Bed
Consider adding calming activities before your child’s bedtime routine. Many parents will bathe their children, dim the lights, listen to relaxing music, or read bedtime stories. It's best to avoid overly stimulating activities like watching television, engaging in physical activities, or playing video games right before bed, as this can keep kids awake.

If your child has a phone or tablet, keep these devices out of their rooms to remove all screen temptations before bedtime.

7. Have Your Child Go to Sleep Drowsy

Another great way to help improve your child's sleep hygiene is to send them to bed tired yet still awake. Young children need to associate their bed with rest, and sending them to bed drowsy will help them do so. This sets up healthy sleep patterns for the duration of their lives.

If you've already established a habit of waiting to put your child to bed until they're asleep, maybe by allowing them to sleep in your arms or your bed, don't worry. With some training and positive reinforcement, you can break this pattern, and your child can learn a new sleep routine.

Help Your Child Learn Sleep Hygiene

Ensure your child gets quality sleep each night. Follow these seven simple tips to improve their sleep hygiene. You’ll likely get a bit more rest, too!

*Collaborative Post