Sleep is one of the biggest aspects of one’s life. It is essential especially during the early developmental stages of a child. A child can be physically and mentally healthy if he has sufficient amount of sleep.
Why is sleep so important?
Sleep restores the brain and the body and lets children renew their energy. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can cause multiple negative effects, such as growth stunt, night terrors, weight gain, irritability, lack of sociability, and more. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, improves learning, attention, decision-making, and creativity. Physically, it helps repair muscles and tissues and boosts immunity toward diseases.
How to Help Your Child Fall Asleep
1. Set a routine
Make sure their routine is calming and soothing. Do not do anything to stimulate them, such as running around the room with them. Experts emphasize the importance of routine and systematic schedule in a child’s life. Set a bedtime routine. Play a quiet game, brush teeth, get your child to bed, tell them a story, and then tuck them in. Allot a specific number of minutes for each activity so everything should take about 30 – 45 minutes. Don’t make the routine too complicated. Most of all, do not fail to do the same thing every night. Get them used to the routine until it’s in their system. If they cry or wake up and call you again, remind them gently that they need to be in bed. Don’t give in to them if they ask for more time up or for one more story. The earlier the bedtime, the better. You can work with the rest of the family to establish and follow through with the routine.
2. Teach your child to sleep alone
Also, get them used to falling asleep by themselves. At first, you can hold their hand. Then move a bit closer, rubbing their back or patting their head. Then sit next to them. After that, gradually recede again, going back to just holding their hand. Then try to let them fall asleep while simply talking to them, or saying good night right by the door. Don’t let them depend on your physical closeness to know that you are there for them. However, if your child starts having nightmares and starts waking up crying and screaming in the middle of the night, go to them and comfort them softly.
3. Set their mood to sleep
Make sure that their daytime hours are filled with activities that keep them awake, alert, and active. This will ensure that they are sated and tired enough to want to go to sleep and rest at night. Additionally, make your child’s sleeping environment and bedroom as comfortable as possible. Fluff up the pillows. Make their bedroom look soft and inviting. Encourage a blanket or stuffed animal or anything that provides security—their “security object”. Don’t let any loud noise disrupt the quiet and comfort of the room. Make sure their pajamas are comfortable. Dim the lights, or use a lamp. One good example is a rabbit night light, which is attractive for children and provides enough lighting to make the environment cozy.
You can also use music to help them sleep. Listen to lullabies, classical music or relaxing music to lull them to sleep. The music will form a sleep association that helps them fall asleep every time they hear it.
If your child needs a snack before going to bed, make sure it is something comfortable to eat. As much as possible, don’t give them anything with sugar or caffeine (such as chocolate) that will stimulate their senses and make them want to stay up. Don’t feed them big meals right before they go to sleep. Warm milk usually works best.
5. Don’t let technology get the best of them
As the child grows older, (and with the rise of technology), they may start to want to stay up for their Facebook, or to play the latest computer game, or watch television. Be strict with their use of technology. As much as possible, don’t allow them to have gadgets inside their bedroom.
Don’t forget to reward your child’s progress as he successfully follows his bedtime routine without any hassle. Tell them they are doing a good job and let them know you are proud of them. Don’t see putting your child to bed as a hassle. This is the perfect time to bond with your son or daughter and let them know you love them and care for them enough to be with them for their bedtime.