After a long, busy day with your kids, chances are you’re craving some alone time. But what are you supposed to do when they refuse to go to bed or keep waking up in the middle of the night?
Regulating your child’s circadian rhythm, or sleep-wake cycle, is essential for their mental and physical growth. With different techniques, such as circadian rhythm lighting, limited screen time, and nutrition, it’s easier than you think to improve your child’s bedtime routine and help increase sleep quality.
1. Create a Routine
Having a routine is important to get your child used to the idea of getting ready and going to bed. By creating a routine, bedtime will seem like less of something they have to do and more like something that’s a normal part of their day, like eating lunch or going to school.
If you want your child asleep by a certain time, start the process about 30 minutes to an hour before they should be sleeping. Try to get them into the habit of doing things in the same order every night, such as having a bath, changing into their pajamas, brushing their teeth, and reading a story.
Sticking to the same bedtime and wake time everyday, including weekends, also helps the body establish a natural cycle that will make it easier for them to fall asleep.
2. Limit screen time before bed
Screens have become so common in everyday life that they can be difficult to avoid, even for children.
The use of screens before bedtime can mess with your child’s circadian rhythm, which is influenced by light and dark.
Screens before bed are associated with a later bedtime and disrupted sleep. To prevent this sleep disruption, power down devices, avoid screens at least an hour before bedtime, and remove all devices from the bedroom.
Instead of watching TV or playing video games at night, try encouraging your children to play with toys or do a relaxing activity, such as coloring or a puzzle.
3. Create a sleep-inducing environment
As mentioned, light and dark can influence your child’s sleep pattern. Bad lighting and bright lights can make it harder for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. With Brilli’s Wind Down light bulbs, you can create healthy circadian rhythm lighting for your family.
These healthy light bulbs are free from melatonin-suppressing blue light (the light found in screens) and have a soft glow to help your child transition from day to night.
Additionally, our circadian rhythm lighting can help simulate natural light from sunrise to sunset. This will help your child’s body naturally prepare for rest and be more relaxed when it’s time for bed.
Besides lighting, temperature and sound are critical for a good night’s sleep. Make sure your child’s bedroom is cool, about 65-70 degrees, and quiet.
4. Read, sing, or rub their back
Reading to your child before bed or telling them a story holds many benefits, besides just helping with sleep. In a variety of different studies, children who were read to or who participated in shared reading with their parents before bed showed increased literacy skills and cognitive development. Reading before bed will help your child to succeed academically and improve their reading and writing skills.
Telling a story out loud, or gently singing, can also help lower the energy levels for your child. It can be a soothing way to promote relaxation and help them fall asleep and stay asleep.
If your child is struggling to fall asleep, you can also try rubbing their back. Massage therapy and touch is shown to increase dopamine and serotonin, which can reduce stress and promote a positive mood.
5. Focus on nutrition and physical activity
Last, but certainly not least, nutrition and exercise can play a huge role in sleep health. A healthy diet can help ward off obesity, which can cause a variety of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea.
Be sure your child avoids high amounts of sugar before bed, as well as caffeine. There are also certain foods that can help induce sleep, such as whole-grain carbohydrates and minerals like magnesium and calcium. Some food ideas to help incorporate these compounds include almonds, bananas, a mug of warm milk, whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, and herbal tea.
Physical activity is also important for a healthy weight and can help promote sleep and regulate body temperature. It’s best for your child to exercise at least three hours before bedtime to get the most benefits—it can sometimes take six hours for the body to cool down after exercising. A cool temperature will help your child fall asleep faster.