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 meal times and homework. Set some guidelines that become the norm in our households: ones we all follow, parents and kids.
Here are a few ideas:
- House rules: devices and tv are off 1 hour before bedtime.
- Set a bedtime and wake up time. Studies show that having a consistent bedtime improves sleep quality and insures proper sleep cycles.
- Bring back the ritual of a warm bath followed by foot and hand massages. Their hearts will slow right down and make them ready for a deep slumber.
- Read a novel together.
- Play some cards or learn a new game. We play crazy eights or crib and it works in not lighting up the brain too much.
- Keep it cool. A bedroom that is too hot can trick the brain and body into thinking it is daytime rather than sleep time.
- Consider soft 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.
- Sometimes it can be necessary to incorporate device management apps. They set time limits and curfews to help insure reasonable usage. They also help parents and children have more self awareness.
- 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 or blogs on sleep importance. 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 important to our children’s well-being and ability to function at school. It needs to be preserved and protected, and kids need to understand that it is important too.
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 if we do.