When there’s a problem sleeper in the household it can affect the whole family including siblings and at least one parent (more than likely you!). Whether your child is resisting going to bed or waking up regularly through the night, it can disrupt everyone’s quality of sleep resulting in sleep deprivation and a household of tired, grumpy and irritable inhabitants. So what can you do to remedy problem sleepers so the whole family can rest easy?
- Avoid sugar‐laden treats and caffeine‐containing products like ice‐tea or cola beverages later in the day as they may contribute to sleeping problems.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine. Kids need time to unwind before sleep so include a few simple quiet activities like a bath, bedtime story or listening to quiet music. You could also give your child a natural sleep remedy like chamomile or lactium before bed to help them wind down and get to sleep. Sprinkling a few drops of lavender oil on their pillow may also help encourage a restful slumber.
- Turn off the TV and computers at least an hour before bedtime. The light from electronic devices disturbs sleep by sending alert signals to the brain making kids feel stimulated well past their bedtime and contributing to sleeping problems. Older children and adults will also benefit from reducing their TV or computer usage at night.
- Look at their sleeping environment. Is their bedroom cool, dark and comfortable? Does it feel relaxed and peaceful? If not, start by de‐cluttering the room, keep TVs and other electronic devices out, and choose wall colours that elicit warmth and calm. Use darkened curtains or shades for blocking evening light during summer or for daytime naps and if your little one likes to sleep with a light on, use a nightlight that is quite dim.
- Make sure the rest of the house is quiet after you put the kids to bed so they don’t think they are missing out on anything.
- If your little night owl wakes through the night, go to them and quietly reassure them that everything is OK and that it’s time to go back to sleep. Try not to disturb them too much or stay with them for too long, and make minimal contact. The goal is to get them used to being on their own and falling asleep by themselves. It will help if you don’t turn on any bright lights. If they continue to need you through the night, you should still respond to them in the same way but space your visits out. They should learn to calm down and settle themselves to sleep if you stick to this technique.
- If your child wanders into your bedroom in the middle of the night, take them back to their own bed to reassure them that it is a safe and comfortable place.