You might be thinking…forget about my kids, how do I get on a sleep schedule? Thankfully the same principles apply to adults as to kids. They just have way more energy than we do. Let’s get into it!
Part of being able to easily get to sleep is using up your body’s energy reserves. If kids aren’t spending time playing, whether that’s outdoors during the summer or in some type of sports or activities during the winter, all that extra energy is going to make it more difficult for your body to easily sleep at night. In a sense, you need to use your batteries before they can be recharged.
While strategic napping may make sense as we grow older, it’s a no-no for kids who are of school age. Those naps deliver powerful rest that then leave them energized at regular bedtime and lead them to rightfully say, “But I’m not tired!” Don’t contribute to that lack of tiredness by letting them nap!
Phase Out Electronics Before Bed
Enough research exists now to show the problems electronics can cause before bedtime. Make sure that there’s a ramp down time…to absolute zero…before bedtime. If kids can access electronics in their beds, there’s no wonder they can’t sleep. Try to have a “no electronics” rule up to an hour before regular bedtime.
Have a Nightly Routine
Speaking of regular bedtimes, that’s the endpoint of a standard nightly routine. Just as warming up at the gym gets you mentally and physically prepared to work out so too a nightly bedtime routine can remind your kids that the day is ending. This routine can include warm showers, quiet reading or relaxing, and comfy pajamas, just to name a few.
One thing that should never be part of a nightly routine before bed is eating. While we don’t see it, eating is one of the more labor-intensive things we can ask our body to do. While that late-night snack feels good at the time, it’s a disaster for sleep hygiene and worse, it can lead to health problems.
Practice Sleep Hygiene
So above we’ve mentioned what you can do to make sure your kids are mentally and physically prepared to lie down and close their eyes. What you can do to ensure those eyes stay closed as long as possible is to make sure their rooms are set up for sleep success. This includes:
- Temperature — rooms should be slightly cooler to lead to better sleep.
- Darkness — electronic and actual light should be at a minimum, including making sure windows and shades are set up in such a way that sleepers don’t wake up before they need to.
- Regularity — if you can sleep at close to the same time each night, your body will fall into a routine and fall asleep more easily.
Set a Consistent Wake Up Time
One of the best things you can do to get on a sleep schedule is to wake up at a consistent time. By giving your body a regular endpoint of sleep, you can program it to get “tired” sooner so that it gets enough sleep.
Sleep is something most adults wish we got more of but this is one thing we should make easy for our kids, and these steps help us do that.
This content originally appeared in our monthly Open Calendar Club newsletter.