Does your child struggle with trouble sleeping, or have sleep anxiety that prevents them (and you!) from getting a restful night?
Statistics show that children between the age of six to thirteen require at least nine to eleven hours of sleep every night. This results in side effects that range from mild behavioral problems to more worrying issues, such as ADHD, mood swings, or cognitive issues that affect their performance at school.
To ensure your little one isn’t letting their sleep anxiety get the best of them, it’s important to try and instill healthy sleep hygiene habits early on.
Sleep hygiene essentially refers to the habits and practices one takes in the lead up to a night’s rest, which allows them to unlock deep and comfortable sleep.
From finding bedroom furniture such as weighted blankets that can help with this, to implementing a nighttime ritual that calms your child down enough for them to fall asleep, here’s everything you need to know about nipping sleep anxiety in the bud:
Hygiene Habit #1: Keep Screens Away In The Evening To Avoid Trouble Sleeping
As tempting as it might be to allow your kids to remain distracted by what’s on their tablets or phones, the blue light present in almost all digital screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle, and cause trouble sleeping.
Have a strict no device rule at least three hours before bedtime, and to avoid the inevitable pushback, try and replace the time they would normally spend on these with something else.
Some devices, such as Kindles, allow you to read without the disruptive blue light other tablets might have.
Other fun and creative projects include art activities, helping out with meal time prep, or reading engaging books.
Avoid any active work, such as running around, or any physical work, since this can usually cause adrenaline spikes that prevent a good night’s sleep.
Hygiene Habit #2: Find The Best Sleep Tools For Children With Sleep Anxiety
Finding bedroom furniture that can positively contribute to your child’s sleep cycle makes all the difference between how much they look forward to their night time rest. Your child’s trouble sleeping might come from a wide variety of factors within their bedrooms.
If you’re confident you already have the best mattress for your child’s comfortable sleep, weighted blankets are another sleep accessory that can really transform your child’s sleep hygiene habits.
Originally created for children with autism, weighted blankets work by mimicking the feeling of being swaddled or embraced, and are especially good for children who have trouble sleeping due to their anxiety.
Weighted blankets work great for adults and children alike – you just need to watch out for the type you get.
When it comes to purchasing a weighted blanket for your child, try and find something that lands at about 10% of their body weight, so they’re not feeling smothered or overly stuffy in their blanket.
If your child is a hot sleeper, you’ll also want to look out for a cooling weighted blanket, since their comfort remains priority number one.
Hygiene Habit #3: Why Your Child’s Bed Sheets Make All The Difference
The easiest thing to transform as you try to combat any issues with sleep anxiety your child might have is their bedroom.
While weighted blankets can be a great practical tool for your child to improve their sleep, their bed sheets can actually go a long way to help as well.
Work to transform their relationship to sleep, so that they begin to view it as something that they can look forward to, and is enjoyable.
Younger children may enjoy printed bed sheets because of this – so keep an eye out for those spaceship or dinosaur themed bed sheets. They may be more helpful than you think.
If your child’s sleep anxiety manifests in bedwetting, you’ll want to invest in bed sheets that are easy to clean, easy to maintain, and remain stylish in your space.
Bamboo bed sheets are particularly useful in this regard, and are also naturally hypoallergenic and cooling, allowing your child maximum comfort in their rest.
Hygiene Habit #4: Have A Nighttime Ritual Your Child Will Love
It’s important your kids have a good relationship with sleep. If they view it as a chore or have trouble sleeping because they’re afraid of nightmares, this can negatively impact the quality of sleep they experience.
Creating a nighttime ritual that your children are going to love will be essential to rebuilding their relationship to sleep.
This can be something as simple as a bedtime story, or if they’re a little older, an activity they might enjoy on their own – a warm bubble bath, or a cup of naturally sweetened tea can both help with feelings of relaxation, as well as induce sleep.
Similar to the effect weighted blankets can have, the aim here should be to minimize any fear that creates sleep anxiety and replace it with genuine excitement to get into bed.
Hygiene Habit #5: Pick A Sleep Routine And Stick To It
Finally, the most important aspect of improving your child’s sleep hygiene is simply instilling the discipline required to stick to it.
Whether you’re incorporating a weighted blanket or just a warm cup of milk, building the association between habit and corresponding activity does take some work.
Remember as difficult as it might be to stay firm about certain bed-time or no-tech rules, it’s essential to have your children get used to the habits that will help them fight off sleep anxiety in the long run.
When your child has trouble sleeping, you’re also likely to struggle with the same. Finding the right sleeping tools, such as the best-weighted blanket, or the right set of bedsheets, and ensuring you’re doing as much as you can to create a peaceful activity in sleep will help in unimaginable ways.
With a little patience and some time, your child’s sleep anxiety will be a thing of the past, and as they stay sleeping safe and sound – you’ll be able to get your own rest.