Just because your kids are too old for a baby monitor in their room doesn’t mean you should stop monitoring their sleep habits. Sending them to bed at a “reasonable hour” does nothing to ensure they’re getting quality sleep (kind of like forcing yourself to go to bed at a certain time doesn’t mean you’re not awake in the dark for hours). Understanding proper sleep hygiene is the first step in helping your child enjoy a healthier life.
Check in on them throughout the night for tell tale signs of sleep issues such as early onset sleep apnea. In severe cases, a CPAP machine may be in order or there may be minor surgeries to help with nasal blockages. Of course, more likely you’ll just need to help them make some adjustments to better their sleep.
Here are a few actions everyone can benefit from:
1. Avoid screen time before bed
For at least two hours before bed, make it a no screen rule for the entire house. It overstimulates you and makes falling asleep more difficult. Instead, use this time to get ready for the next day (they can help make their lunch), bond as a family over board games, or read in suitable lighting. In fact, with even CBS warning against watching too much television (let the source sink in), there’s no harm in ditching that extra series.
2. Darken the rooms
Most bedrooms are brighter than the human body desires for best sleep. Add some blackout curtain liners which don’t just reduce light from outside, but also noise. Remove any gadgets that give off even small burst of light (or unplug them) and slowly wean your child off of nightlights if they like them. If your child has a smartphone, make it a family rule to keep them out of the bedroom when it’s bed time. The Huffington Post recently reported on the dangers of sleeping with your smartphone (from weight gain to sleeplessness).
3. Ditch the caffeine
Children shouldn’t be having caffeine anyway, but if it’s an occasional treat (such as in chocolate), make sure they’re cut off after noon. People have varying sensitivities to caffeine and it might be what’s keeping them awake. Parents can do the same, limiting tea and coffee to morning hours.
Better sleep makes for better health, better mental clarity and less grogginess. It’s something everyone can work on, and doing so as a family makes it a little easier.