Making sure your kids get a good night’s sleep isn’t always a dream come true. We can help. Most toddlers and young children need between 12 and 14 hours of sleep over a 24-hour time period. Older children and teenagers need more like 9 hours to feel fully rested.
It’s safe to say that most kids don’t get the sleep they need for a variety of reasons from nighttime fears to daytime napping and demanding school schedules. Whether you have teens or toddlers, we have tips to help your children fall asleep, stay asleep, and develop sound sleep habits for years to come.
Tuck Them In With These Tips In Mind
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
At any age, your kids should be going to bed and waking up at about the same time each day. Consistency creates a sleep pattern that works like an internal alarm every morning and night.
Establish a sleep routine
Kids need time to unwind. Setting a routine like brushing teeth, taking a bath, reading a set number of stories, etc. will set sleep expectations. Older kids should also establish a routine, avoiding devices (TV, computers, phones, tablets), heavy exercise, and intense studying that can over-stimulate their brain rather than relax them.
Think about the sleeping environment
Bedrooms should only be used for sleep, to build the association between the two. Beds should not be part of playtime or time out. The room should be cool, quiet, and dark (night lights are ok!), and the rest of your house should follow suit so your kids aren’t resisting bedtime with the fear of missing out on something in another room.
Have a bedtime snack
Set a limit when it comes to food and drinks before bed, especially for younger kids. A light snack like milk, fruit, or cereal can be a great part of the bedtime routine, but avoid sugar and anything with caffeine. Eat dinner well before bedtime too—big meals within a few hours of bedtime can interfere with sleep.
Make exercise a part of every day
Encourage healthy habits and exercise early on. Make exercise a part of playtime and plan activities the whole family can do together. Regular exercise leads to better sleep and better health overall, but avoid exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
Learn how naptime affects bedtime
Naptime is factored in to the recommended amount of sleep kids require. The need to nap depends on the age of your child. As babies grow into toddlers, they require fewer naps throughout the day, but they may nap longer. Older kids and teenagers should only nap for 30 minutes or so to avoid disrupting their regular sleep schedule.
Talk to your doctor
It’s time to get advice from your doctor if your child’s sleep is affected by: breathing difficulty, snoring, frequently losing sleep because of nighttime fears, acting differently during the day, or if your child appears to be excessively tired despite getting the recommended amount of sleep.