It's crazy to think of everything going on in this world right now. As parents we are overwhelmed with the sheer magnitude of what it takes to raise a child and also take care of ourselves. Often sleep is one function that gets neglected and this ends up affecting our health, mood, productivity, and ability to think properly and make decisions.
So many of us are always plugged in. Whether it's working, socializing, tv, devices, social media. There is always something that is asking for our attention. The (newest) most prevalent addictions are mobile devices and online stimulation. Not many of us will admit we are lost in Facebook or Instagram, but this trend is seriously compromising our ability to get a good night's sleep. We are told it is recommended that we turn off our devices 2 hours before we go to bed. Yah, that's not happening for a good percentage of us. This electronics trend is compromising our sleep cycles and healing balance. Oh but wait, I'm not supposed to be talking about adults. This is a blog about kids and sleeping, and how to help teach them good sleep habits.
My point is that it starts with us. Our kids are going to do what we do and follow our example. Many of our children spend hours with their "alternative family" (devises) and this can have huge costs in the long run. I'm not judging, technology is here to stay. Yet as parents we must fight to keep sleep in a place of importance. Without it, children will not find school an easy thing. Concentration and problem solving as well as memory retention and integrating all that they learn, will be much more challenging without a full night's sleep.
There are so many things we can do to help our kids sleep better. The first steps as parents are to see the value and importance of sleep, and create structure around it like we do food and exercise. Set some guidelines that become the norm in our households: ones we all follow, parents and kids.
Here are a few ideas:
1. House rules: devices and tv are off 1.5 hours before bedtime.
2. Set a bedtime and wake up time. Studies show that having a consistent bed time improves sleep quality and insures proper sleep cycles.
3. Warm bath followed by foot and hand massages. Their littles hearts will slow right down and get them ready for a deep slumber.
4. Read a book together.
6. Play some cards or learn a new game. We play crazy eights or crib and it works in not lighting up the brain (also a great connection for the family).
7. Keep it cool. A bedroom that is too hot can trick the brain and body into thinking it is daytime rather than sleep time (reduce the focus on sleep and just create a sleep enducing environment).
8. Have soft back ground music or sound effects in the background. The calmer you can make the environments the better chance they have of dropping into a quality sleep.
9. Incorporate device management apps. Set time limits and curfews to help insure reasonable usage.
- Keep devices out of the bedroom at night. This will limit lights and bleeps of notifications interrupting sleep and tempting children to get up and respond.
- Limit social media apps to a reasonable number. We suggest 2. Managing these social sites takes a great deal of time for kids and teens.
There are many other ideas you can try—there are tons of good books on sleep or Google to find out more. Find your rhythm. Like other habits, it takes 21 days to establish them. Start the journey and ask for support. Our kids need this from us in a big way. We believe sleep is the ultimate healer and needs to be preserved and protected.
We can do this for them, even if it has us coming up against our own habits. Their lives and futures will be so much better off.