A Better Night’s Sleep for Your Kids
There are three main causes of “night wakings.” The first is night terrors, or bad dreams. Adults are able to shake it off and go back to sleep. It’s not that easy, obviously, for kids. Very young children often do not know what woke them and older children usually end up in the parent’s bed because naturally, they’re scared.”
The second is because of restless sleep: without a solid bedtime routine, kids are subject to a restless night’s sleep. It is always better to develop a routine each night to help your child relax and wind down from the day. (i.e., keep the light off, speak calmly, don’t stay in the room for a long time, read them a bedtime story, etc). Also, avoid caffeine and sugar before bed.
The third reason could be because of medical issues. If your child is waking in the middle of the night often, or complains of aches or pains, check with your pediatrician. Children are not immune to sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia.
Parents should try out these back-to-sleep methods:
- Help your child learn that nighttime and darkness don’t have to be scary – take walks in the neighborhood after dark, count the stars in your backyard, catch and release fireflies – or other activities that make fun out of darkness.
- Use “snuggle time” as part of the wind-down routine, or to reward them for sleeping through the night.
- Go on a monster search. Turn on all the lights before bedtime and search for monsters (or ghosts) to make sure the rooms are clear.
- Reduce naps. Reducing the amount of time young children sleep during the day can extend the hours they sleep at night.
It’s important to remember that in most cases, children don’t wake in the middle of the night for attention, but they do want your help. Sure, there’s nothing more annoying than being awakened in the middle of the night by your scared child. But you have to manage your frustration and exhaustion. Kids usually just want some reassurance, and if you have the proper tools to handle them, they’ll be back to sleep in no time. On the other hand, we need to use discretion when checking up on our kids. Don’t feel like you have to get up every time you hear a noise.
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