MOMTOURAGE Q & A: Tips for Helping Your Child Get to Sleep at Night!

Dear Momtourage,

Help! My eight-year-old son is impossible to get to sleep at night!

By the time bedtime routine comes around, I’m exhausted and I just don’t know what to do to get him to fall asleep. I feel like I’ve tried everything. Any advice?

Tired as a mother, Andrea, Greenwich, CT

Dear Andrea,
I’ve been there, and so have countless others! I have three children, and two of them are particularly tricky at bedtime. Some may tell you (like my business partner) that some children don’t need as much sleep (she’s convinced her son –and husband– have a mutated sleep gene). While this may very well be true (not the mutated sleep gene part), we, as parents, need sleep. We need to send our kids to dreamland before we can relax and get there ourselves.

For younger children, the routine is so important to keep consistent, and honestly, as they get older, it’s just as important.

Knowing what to expect is crucial. When my kids were younger, dinner, bath, books, bed was the routine.

However, as they get older, they have school, and after-school activities, and then dinner in there somewhere, then homework, a bath (or shower), some reading time, and bed. Their young minds are racing with all of these things, and sometimes it isn’t effortless for them to slow down and shut down all of their thoughts. They are going to change the world one day, you know and these thoughts are important.

The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following sleep time recommendations: Ages 3-5; 10-13 hours (including naps) Ages 6-12; 9-12 hours.

Here’s what we’ve tried so far to help our children get the recommended amount of sleep time:
no television
no electronic devices
complete darkness
temperature 68-70° (optimal temperature for quality sleep)
sleep mask
starting the bedtime routine earlier or starting it later
no food right before bedtime.

When we at the Momtourage sit together and think about what impacts sleep based on our experiences, we’ve found that an essential factor for our children falling asleep at a reasonable time and getting adequate sleep time, is the amount of physical activity that they have had throughout the day.

Maybe our parents did get it right in the 80’s, and outside play with fresh air was the key to us going to bed at a reasonable time.

Good night, sleep tight,
The Momtourage

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