Improving Your Child’s Sleep, So You Can Sleep Better Too
Sleep is a fundamental human need. For mother’s who are experiencing depression, sleep is even more important.
Getting a reasonable amount of sleep at night can help improve depressive symptoms. If our children aren’t sleeping well through out the night, then neither are we.
So, what can we do to increase success in the sleep department and help our children sleep well throughout the night?
Bedroom Environment Conducive To Sleep – Improving Your Child’s Sleep
Making sure your child’s room is conducive to sleep is incredibly important. Children are sensitive to light, so if the room is not completely black it can affect their sleep.
A room where you can see all the fun toys is also a distraction children do not need when they are supposed to be sleeping.
If you haven’t already, buy blackout blinds that cover the windows completely. Drawing the blinds at both nap time and bedtime sets the scene for sleep and ensures light is not filtering into the room and not causing sleep disruptions.
You may also wish to use a sound machine in your child’s room so that they are not disrupted by intermittent outside noise, especially if you have a noisy sibling running around the house or live in a noisy city area.
Have A Consistent Bedtime Routine – Improving Your Child’s Sleep
Having a consistent bedtime and nap time routine that is relaxing and happens the same way every day is incredibly important. The bedtime routine acts as a cue to sleep for your child and research has shown that if done daily, can help reduce night wakings.
The bedtime routine should start no later than half an hour before bedtime and no earlier than 15 minutes before nap time. Having both parents participate regularly in the bedtime routine is important too.
It means that your child will be receptive to either parent putting them to bed at night, giving parents the opportunity to have a night off.
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Institute Appropriate Bedtime – Improving Your Child’s Sleep
Having an appropriately timed bedtime helps make bedtime easier and reduces the likelihood of sleep issues (e.g. night wakings or early risings). The bedtime will be somewhat changeable everyday, but in general should be between 6 to 8 pm for a child under 8 years old.
You can determine the best bedtime for your child each day by looking at the quality of naps, activity levels throughout the day, their behaviour in the afternoon and the time awake since the last nap.
Never be afraid of bedtimes that seem to be on the earlier side. Earlier bedtimes help prevent a second wind. Second winds make make it more difficult for your child to fall asleep.
Teach Self Soothing Skills – Improving Your Child’s Sleep
Many people believe that being able to sleep is natural and that some children sleep well and other’s don’t. Sleep is in fact a learnt skill. Our children need to be taught the ability to fall asleep and stay asleep without any help from us.
It can be very tempting as parents to jump and respond to our children’s every need and cry but when we do this we teach our children that they need us to help them sleep.
We should give our children the opportunity to fall asleep by themselves and if they wake up overnight give them time to fall back asleep before intervening (wait perhaps 10-15 minutes).
For babies we should put them down in their cribs drowsy but awake so they can finish off the falling asleep process. Then as they got older put the to bed awake but at the right bedtime so they will fall asleep easily on their own.
By doing this our children will learn that they have the skills to fall asleep by themselves and they will be able to return themselves to sleep during normal brief awakenings during the night.
Address Climbing Out Of Bed Behaviour – Improving Your Child’s Sleep
If you have a toddler or older child you may have to deal with them getting out of bed at night whether it be because they want to know what you do once they are in bed or they want to try and join you in your bed.
To address climbing out of bed you can first draw up some sleep rules on a poster with your child that they can hang up in their room.
The rules should include: staying in bed all night, concentrating on falling asleep and only getting up at the appropriate time in the morning. This works well when paired with returning them to their bedroom with no interaction; if they do get up.
You can reward your child when they do follow the rules if you feel your child will be responsive to it. If they are getting out of bed too early in the morning, an OK to wake clock can help too.
I have outlined the most important ways to help your child sleep better, so that you can too.
However, if after implementing all these suggestions you are still having trouble helping your little one get the sleep they need and feel you need 1:1 help; please feel free to contact Mylee at Little Big Dreamers today.
It is important to take action as soon as possible when your child is having sleep issues so that your whole family can get the sleep you need.
Short Bio : Mylee Zschech is a mom of two young boys. During the day she is a child sleep consultant and owner of Little Big Dreamers. Mylee loves helping families get the sleep they need. Blog: www.littlebigdreamers/blog