Is there anything worse than a cranky child who hasn’t gotten enough sleep? You betcha. A cranky Mom dealing with cranky kids who didn’t get enough sleep. Bedtimes and getting kids to sleep is one of the most talked about topics in Moms group. Let’s face it, what’s one of the often-asked questions for new parents? The old “ Is she sleeping through the night?” query. Anyone who remembers those sleepless early days knows just how awful it can be to not get enough rest, but what we don’t realize is how bad it is for our kids, too. After fighting with my kids about bedtimes and dealing with the after-effects of some late night and the days after, I got to thinking about how much sleep kids really need, and how to actually GET THEM to sleep.
Knowing my kids take things more seriously if Mom isn't the only one to say something, I asked Certified Clinical Sleep Educator Terry Cralle for some tips. Her career is all about stressing the importance of sleep and helping others realize just how crucial it is. She gave me some fantastic tips on sleep and kids- how much they need, and how to get them to bed!
10 Tips To Get Your Kids To Go To Bed and GO TO SLEEP
- Present bedtime and sleep in a positive light. Never make going to bed early a punishment and never use staying up late as a reward.
- Children have no control over going to bed, so give them some control in the process. This can be achieved by giving them some choices in the bedtime process. Let children choose which pajamas to wear or which book to read before bed - or let them choose which pajamas YOU wear to bed (make the bedtime routine fun!)
- Never use the bedroom for time-outs. Children should have a positive association with the bedroom and with bedtime and sleep - getting the sleep their minds and bodies need.
- Power off electronics at least one hour prior to bedtime (preferably two hours).
- Quality sleep must be fostered through a calming, comforting, positive, and predictable transition from wake to sleep. Following a consistent bedtime routine aids in the development of healthy sleep habits that result in quality sleep. Always have a bedtime routine or pre-sleep ritual comprised of a series of steps that lead to the bedroom. Do the steps in the same order each and every night. Children need consistency and predictability. For instance, power off all electronics, brush teeth, bath, pajamas, story time, then lights out . Keep to this routine and soon bedtime will become easier as kids know what to expect.
- Monitor your child’s screen time during the day and keep TVs and all electronics out of the child’s bedroom
- Discuss sleep issues with healthcare providers as well as teachers because sleep is foundational to health and learning. Treat sleep as a "vital sign." Advocate for healthy school start times that allow for sufficient sleep on a consistent basis.
- Ensure children are consistently getting the recommended amount of sleep. Have consistent bedtimes and sleep schedules for children that accommodate enough sleep and maintain those bedtimes even on weekends and holidays (with no more than an hour of deviation). The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides sleep duration guidelines by age on their web site.
- Make sufficient sleep a family priority. Grownups need to be good sleep role models. If sleep is not a priority for adults, then how can it be a priority for children?
- Parents: Get YOUR recommended amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation leaves us all irritable, short on patience and cranky. Your sleep needs and your child’s sleep needs are equally important. Overtired parents and kids can turn bedtime into a battle zone.
I wish I had some of these tips when my kids were littles, but to be honest, I plan on adding some of these to our nighttime routines even though they are older. Adding sound routine to our evenings will be a good thing! I especially love Tip #10- because I know that I can use more sleep and I need to set a good example to my kids. I am a much less cranky Mom when I am a rested Mom, and the same goes for my kids.