Bedtime battles with your toddler may be a normal part of his behavior, but helping him to get the sleep he needs plays an important role in his overall development. Sleep deprivation hurts both kids and parents, but you can help. Establishing good bedtime habits can help your child fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and experience fewer night wakings.
One in ten children have trouble with sleep, and there have been links found between toddlers with sleep problems and sleep disorders later in life. Additionally, children who have fragmented sleep patterns tend to show lower performance on tests and more behavioral problems. Sleep deprivation causes changes in the brain that affect short-term memory and mood, so it’s easy to see how kids that struggle with sleep might not do as well as their well-rested friends.
Establishing healthy sleep habits early in your child’s life can reduce sleep disturbances. If, after setting these good habits and sticking with them for a significant amount of time, you find your child still has trouble sleeping, you may want to consult a doctor to find out if something else like a sleep disorder could be affecting his sleep.
Sleep habits and conditions that can put an end to your bedtime battles include:
1. Consistent Bed and Wake Time
The human body loves routine. When you keep a consistent bedtime, your child’s body begins to recognize when it’s time to release sleep-inducing hormones. Some children are more sensitive to a timed schedule more than others, but as you put him to bed and wake him up at the same time every day, his body will adjust. It might take a week or two, but it’s worth the effort.
2. Bedtime Routine
Sometimes it takes more than a consistent bedtime to train your child’s body. Bedtime routines support the body’s need for a regular schedule and give the brain time to figure out what happens next. A routine also gives your child a chance to wind down after a busy day. Any activity that brings your child to a quiet, calm state can be included in his routine. Reading a book together, listening to quiet music, or singing some quiet songs are a few ideas to get you started. A bedtime routine is also a good time to give some extra time and attention to your toddler before bed.
3. Make It Comfortable
Children are all about comfort. Everything from his favorite blanket to his nightlight can give your child a sense of safety and comfort. Check your child’s mattress to make sure there aren’t any holes or tags that could be causing disruptions during the night. If your child needs a drink or to use the bathroom before bed, include that in his bedtime routine, so he’s prepared for a full night’s rest.
4. Keep Things Quiet and Give It Time
If your child wakes during the night, he should remain in a room that is calm, dark, and quiet. Reassure him and help him back into bed so that he can return to sleep as quickly as possible. Sleep changes won’t happen overnight. It may take a few weeks for your child to adjust to a new schedule. Some children take longer than others to respond to a sleep schedule, but as you consistently put him to bed at the same time every day while following the same routine, you’ll start to see changes in his behavior.
This article was written by the Tuck Sleep Foundation. Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.