When I was a young mom, someone told me there are three things you cannot control or make your kids do…eat, poop, and sleep. If you're a parent, you've probably experienced your share of power struggles around these three areas. In my experience, it's sleep issues that can plague us for much of our lives if we don't learn how to sleep at an early age.
According to the National Sleep Foundation close to 70 percent of children under the age of ten have experienced a sleep problem. Even if you’re kids are teenagers, many don’t get to bed before 11PM, making waking up for school at 6:30 very difficult (and I speak from experience, since getting my Senior in high school to actually get up some mornings can be the hardest part of my day). Of course, parents can be affected by children's lack of sleep as well, which can upset the routine of the entire family.When sleep is lost, it can affect the immune system, cause accidents, and make those who are sleep deprived more prone to depression.
While there's no easy solution to sleep issues, these ideas might help…
Don’t over-schedule yourself or your kids! If they have too many activities going on at once, in school or outside of it, things get pushed back. Dinner is pushed from six to eight, which then means homework time is right before bed at nine, with barely an hour to spare for it. All work and no play makes Jack a dull (and grumpy) boy…social life is important and if kids are doing too many extra-curricular activities, their life can be overwhelmed, which affects their ability to relax and sleep well at night.
Many sleep experts recommend a tool they call “powering down” before bed. This means no technology. Don’t watch television in bed, no iPads or smartphones looking at Pinterest, no texting, and no laptops answering emails. Read a book for about an hour before bed (with proper lighting) and your brain will be ready to fully switch off.
Tell Your Body It's Bedtime
Kids thrive on routine, and bedtime is no exception. Even my teenagers need to learn this. My oldest was up after midnight a month or so ago, and woke me up getting a snack. It was a school night and when I asked why he wasn't in bed, he said he wasn't sleepy. He was also fully clothed and had been playing on his computer and Facebook for the previous few hours. I told him to let his body know it was time for bed and maybe he'd get tired. That included putting on pajamas, shutting down his computer, and actually turning out the light and laying down in his bed. With little kids, make sure you stay consistent with bed times and routines such as bath time, story time, and prayers. All of these are signals to your kids' bodies that it's time to shut down.
You may never completely solve the sleep issues for your kids but these ideas might help you all get a little more restful night's sleep.