Sleep Tips for Every Child"
By Elizabeth Pantley
following sleep ideas are of value to almost any sleeper, regardless
of age. These tips can bring improvement not only in your childs
sleep, but also in her daytime mood and, last, but certainly not
least improvements in your own sleep and outlook as well.
1 Maintain a consistent bedtime and awaking time seven days a week.
childs biological clock has a strong influence on her wakefulness
and sleepiness. When you establish a set time for bedtime and wake
up time you wind your childs clock so that it
for an early bedtime. Toddlers and preschoolers respond best with
a bedtime between 6:30 and 7:30 P.M, and most children will actually
sleep better and longer when they go to bed early.
2 Encourage regular daily naps.
naps are important since an energetic child can find it difficult
to go through a long day without a rest break. A nap-less child
will often wake up cheerful and become progressively moodier, fussier
or hyper-alert as the day goes on, and as he runs out of steam.
Moreover, the length and quality of naps affects nighttime sleep
good naps equal better night sleep.
3 Set your childs biological clock.
advantage of your childs natural biology so that hes
actually tired when bedtime arrives. Darkness causes an increase
in the release of melatonin, the bodys sleep hormone, and
it is the biological stop button. You can help align
your childs sleepiness with his bedtime by dimming the lights
in your home during the hour before bedtime.
your child to morning light is like pushing a go button
in her brain one that says, Time to wake up and be
active. So keep your mornings bright!
4 Develop a consistent bedtime routine.
create feelings of security. A consistent, peaceful bedtime routine
allows your active child to transition from the motion of the day
to the tranquil state required to fall asleep. A specific before-bed
routine naturally and easily ends with sleep.
organized routine helps you coordinate the specifics that must occur
before bed: bath, pajamas, tooth-brushing. It helps you to function
on auto-pilot at the time of day when you are most tired and least
5 Create a cozy sleep environment.
may have never given much thought to where your child sleeps, but
it can be one of the keys to better sleep. Make certain the mattress
is comfortable, the blankets are warm enough, the room temperature
is right, pajamas are comfy and the bedroom is welcoming.
6 Provide the right nutrition to improve sleep.
can affect energy level and sleepiness. Carbohydrate-rich foods
can have a calming effect on the body, while foods high in protein
or sugar generate alertness, particularly when eaten alone. A few
ideas for pre-bedtime snacks are: whole wheat toast and cheese,
bagel and peanut butter, oatmeal with bananas, or yogurt and low-sugar
deficiencies that are due to consistently unhealthy food choices
can affect a childs overall health, including her sleep. Make
your best effort to provide your child with a daily assortment of
7 Help your child to be healthy and fit.
children dont get enough daily physical activity. Too much
TV watching, coupled with a lack of activity amounts to a sedentary
lifestyle which prevents good sleep. Children who get ample
daily physical exercise fall asleep more quickly, sleep better,
stay asleep longer and wake up feeling more refreshed.
physical activity in the hour before bedtime, though, since exercise
is stimulating and has an alerting effect so theyll
be jumping on the bed instead of sleeping in it!
8 Teach your child how to relax and fall asleep.
children get in bed but arent sure what to do when they get
there! It can be helpful to follow a soothing pre-bed routine that
helps create feelings of sleepiness. A common component of the bedtime
ritual is story time, and for good reason. A child who is listening
to a parent read, or tell a tale, will tend to lie still and focus
on the story. This quiet stillness will allow him to become sleepy.
to working with these eight ideas and youll likely see improvements
in your childs sleep, and yours too.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill Publishing from The
No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers & Preschoolers (McGraw-Hill