Establishing Bed Time Routines

bedAs parents we all know that going to bed can be the toughest time of day for young children because it means separation from us and things they enjoy doing.

Bed time can, and often does, become the toughest time of our day as parents. Trying to get our children to bed on a regular schedule for their sake and for our ours can be a real challenge. They need a routine to insure a good night’s sleep. We need down time…our own time to unwind or get to things we can’t do when our children are up and need our attention.

The Sleep Foundation (http://www.sleepfoundation.org) shares information and sleep tips that may make nightly separation and a good sleep a regular happening and not a sometime thing.

Knowing that preschoolers often have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, parents will have the most success if the stick to a regular bed time and a consistent bed time routine.

The bed time routine needs to be relaxing and have a calming effect. Storytellings, a lullaby, a bit of gentle cuddling are often successful in preparing a child for sleep.

Children need to get comfortable with their sleep environment. They need to sleep in the same sleeping environment every night. The room needs to be cool, quiet and dark, There should be no TV or computer game viewing equipment in the room.

School age children (5-12) need to unwind from the demands and stimulation of school, doing homework, and after school activities that can make it difficult to fall asleep. Research on sleep disturbances for this age group has found that consuming caffeine beverages, such as colas, extensive TV viewing, playing online computer games or surfing the net close to bed time are  major contributors to sleep problems.

Inadequate sleep is a blue print for daytime difficulties such as irritability, poor academic performance in school and social and behavioral problems.

This age group needs to understand the importance of good sleep. Parents and children need to talk about the need for a consistent bed time routine and stick to that routine whenever possible.

Just as with younger children, a winding down time is helpful: listening to soft music, reading a suitable book, working at a quiet hobby are all good choices.

The bedroom needs to be cool, dark and quiet and free of a TV, computer or any electronic game viewing equipment.

Establishing and adhering to bed time routines is not easy. It often takes much effort and patience. But, helping our children develop and maintain good sleep habits is a wonderful life-long gift that only we can give.

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