Parenting is all about teaching your children the skills and habits they will need to live a healthy, happy life into their adult years. One of the very first areas where this comes into play is helping our children develop good sleep habits. Children’s sleep patterns change considerably from early infancy to their teen years, but some universal principles hold true no matter what their age. Here are some of the most important guidelines to follow:
Establish a schedule: Children of any age do best when they have an established bedtime that remains reasonably consistent from day to day. This bedtime must take into consideration how many hours of sleep your child should be getting per day—a figure that varies from the time when they’re first born to when they’re teenagers. For very young children who are catching a good bit of their rest in the form of naps, keep those on a schedule as well, with the last nap of the day separated far enough from bedtime that they have time to get sleepy again.
Create a good sleep environment: Just as for adults, the ideal sleeping environment for children should be cool, dark, and comfortable. Eliminate distractions in the form of things that create noise or excess light (although a small nightlight is fine if your child is anxious about sleeping in a fully darkened room). Make sure their mattress is properly supportive and comfortable. If you’re worried about nighttime accidents, quality waterproof mattress pads are readily available to preserve both your mattress and your peace of mind. Choose their bedding by feel rather than solely by style—if your child finds their sheets scratchy, their bed won’t be the haven for rest they need.
Set up calming bedtime routines: For very young children, having an established bedtime routine can help cue them that it is time for bed. This may include bathtime, brushing teeth, reading a bedtime story—whatever helps your child get into a relaxed state conducive to sleep. For older children, make sure they are turning off screens at least an hour before bedtime, because the blue light from phones and computer screens can interfere with melatonin production, making it harder for them to get to sleep. Avoid late-day stimulation, such as an 8 p.m. pillow fight for a grade-schooler or a 4 p.m. cup of coffee for a teenager, that can rile your children up when they should be calming down.
Be a good example: We all know that children are more likely to listen to what we say when our advice lines up with our actions. When you model positive sleep habits by easing into relaxing activities at night, turning off electronics, and keeping your own regular sleep schedule, you set the tone for your whole family.
At IDLE Sleep, we know that everyone needs great sleep. Our line of high-quality, long-lasting mattresses is designed to support healthy rest for every sleeper. We have options to suit everyone from children moving to their first big-kid bed to parents needing all the sleep they can get to keep up with the kids during the day. Click here to find out which IDLE Sleep mattress is right for you.