This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
After safety and nutrition, how much sleep a child gets is uppermost in a parent’s mind. The amount your child needs varies by age: Toddlers need 11 to 14 hours, while preteens and teens require 8 to 10 hours. Following a well-rehearsed bedtime routine and tucking in at a reasonable hour are two key components to helping your child get a solid night’s sleep.
If your child can’t fall asleep easily, you might be wondering if an over-the-counter medication, prescription medication, or a natural remedy might be an option for your child. You should know that medicinal sleep aids may not be appropriate in many cases, and are often accompanied by side effects. That’s why it’s important to consult a pediatrician in advance about sleep aids. Read on for non-medicinal, effective strategies to soothe your kid’s nighttime struggles.
Consider having your child run for exercise first, as a way to use up energy and prepare for bedtime later on. Getting physical increases the body’s temperature—and after it lowers, the drop may help kids fall asleep more easily. Sixty minutes of exercise is considered ideal for kids, including activities such as biking, hiking, or sports.
Watch the Clock
Staying up too late is a big reason kids aren’t getting the sleep they need each night. In fact, a child who heads to bed too late can take longer to fall asleep and may wake more frequently during the night. Try to base your child’s bedtime on his age and activity level and then stick to the appointed time during the week and on weekends.
Set the Scene
A calming bedroom atmosphere can help ease sleep struggles. Be sure the room is dark enough (installing black-out shades can help) and the temperature is comfortably cool. A rumbling tummy can keep kids awake, so offer a light snack before bed. Ones to try: whole-grain crackers with peanut butter or a small banana.
Power Down Devices
Watch out for electronics before bed. The blue light emitted by iPads, computers, and the television can keep kids awake. Turn off devices at least an hour before your kid turns in.
If lifestyle and environmental adjustments aren’t helping your child get back on track with sleep, talk to a pediatrician.