Bedtime. For many adults, bedtime means it’s finally time to shut down and rest. How peaceful! However, if you’re a parent of young ones, the simple statement, “It’s time for bed.” likely carries a very different meaning. In my experience working with families of children of various ages, it is not uncommon for bedtime to be a time of stress, arguments, and frustration among the entire family. I write this blog not because I have the clear, simple answer for solving the “bedtime problem”, but to inform you of the importance and benefits of having a bedtime routine.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you know that I strongly believe that there is no one “best” or “correct” way to do things when it comes to raising children. Consider the individual needs of your family and children as you read on. While this is not intended to be a prescriptive, step-by-step “how-to” guide, considering the information below can help you instill healthy sleep habits in your children and ease the transition into bedtime.
Building a Better Bedtime Routine:
- Yes, you have to go to sleep!
- Many individuals have a false understanding of what exactly happens when our bodies go to sleep. Although we think of sleep as a time to shut off, our body and brains are hard at work during sleep, especially during childhood. Sleep is a critical activity for healthy brain development beginning at infancy. As infants grow into children and adolescents, sleep remains an important aspect of growth and development. According to The National Sleep Foundation, “sleep is an active period in which a lot of important processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs.” The experts go on to state, “Our bodies all require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, to grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.”
- Lack of sleep can contribute to increased difficulty problem-solving, controlling emotions, paying attention, learning, and effectively communicating one’s needs.
- How much sleep is needed?
- While adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school age children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10. (sleepfoundation.org)
- OK, so sleep is important. But bedtime is always such a challenge!
- Have routines- When things are predictable they are less stressful. Having a before-bed routine will reduce stress and promote healthy sleep (falling asleep easily, staying asleep throughout the night, and waking up refreshed). For some, it may be helpful to have a visual schedule. Activities like reading a book, brushing teeth, and bathing can be easily depicted through pictures.
- During the hour before bed, have your child engage in a calming activity. This will help encourage the body’s transition to sleep mode. Realize that there is no one perfect calming activity for all children. For some it may be playing with Legos, others it’s drawing, reading, or writing.
- In continuation of the above bullet point, it is recommended to avoid certain activities before bed. Participating in activities that are stressful or exciting are likely to make the transition into bedtime more difficult.
What do bedtime routines look like in your home? Do you have other tips to share with readers regarding children’s bedtime routines? Your comments are welcome below!
NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!