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Tips for Helping Your Child to Wind Down and Sleep

Bedtime can quickly turn into a nightmare for an energetic child who hasn’t had the opportunity to relax and prepare for sleep.

That nightmare might include numerous trips to the bathroom, requests for a glass of water then another glass of water, and getting out of bed to tell you something really important. That avoidance of going to sleep can prove detrimental to your child.

A good night’s sleep is essential to your child’s physical and mental wellbeing as well as to his growth and development. In fact, a child who does not get enough sleep each night may be more irritable, may have temper tantrums, may resist waking up in the morning, and may need a nap during the day. Health, behavioral, and social problems can all result from a consistent lack of sleep.

Between 35 and 40 percent of children suffer from some sort of sleep-associated problem, such as night terrors, at some point during their childhood, according to the Australian Centre for Education in Sleep, which also advises that babies under one year of age should get between 14 and 18 hours of sleep each day; toddlers need between 12 and 14 hours each day; while children in primary school need between 10 and 12 hours each day.

Getting a child to sleep under normal circumstances can be a challenge. Add a sleep problem, such as night terrors or bedwetting, and you’ll need to be even more diligent in helping to foster a healthy atmosphere for sleep.

Fortunately, you can take preventative measures to help your child wind down and fall asleep after a long day.

Go to bed early

If your child has the tendency to get out of bed multiple times – to get a drink of water, to tell you something important, or to delay going to sleep – putting him or her to bed earlier. In addition, make sure your child has a sleep routine – going to bed at the same time each day and waking up at the same time each day.

Unplug and recharge

We live in a technologically driven society. Children are learning how to use mobile phones, tablets, and even computers at a very early age today. Help your child unwind after a long day by simply unplugging. Turn off the television and the computer at least an hour before your child’s bedtime. Many experts also advise against having a television in the bedroom because a bedroom should ideally be a place associated with relaxation and sleep.

Cut out caffeine

Think about the last time you needed to make it through the tail end of a long day. Maybe you had a cup of coffee to give you that extra burst of energy to push you to the finish line. By the time your head hit the pillow, you may have found yourself wide awake and unable to sleep.

Children respond similarly caffeine. Avoid giving your child caffeine before bed. Look at the ingredients of snacks, drinks, and other food your child may eat in the evenings. Chocolate, for example, may be a favorite treat,  it may also contains caffeine.

Avoid a last minute bedtime snack

Many kids have a snack before bedtime. Make sure your child’s snack is not right before bedtime or he will likely become energized and unable to sleep. Snack time should be a few hours before bed. Warm milk, however, is generally beneficial in helping a child to relax before bed.

Create a bedtime routine

Children generally thrive on routine. Creating a nightly bedtime routine will help your child relax and prepare for bed. For example, you may want to turn off the television an hour or two before bed, have your child take a relaxing bath and brush her teeth, and then read a bedtime story together before bed. Find what works best for your child and helps her relax before bedtime and get their head into a dreamy and creative space.

Create a comfortable atmosphere

Have you ever tried to sleep when it’s really, really hot, and the air conditioning is on the fritz? Or, perhaps your neighbours have an outdoor light that shines right through your blinds and keeps you awake. Like you, children need a comfortable atmosphere to allow them to sleep. Make sure the temperature in your child’s room is at a comfortable temperature – not too hot and not too cold – and is dark. Nightlights should illuminate the room but not shine directly into your child’s eyes.

Read the right bedtime story

As mentioned earlier, read a bed time story… It’s a tradition most of us enjoyed as children and continue with our own children. A bedtime story can help your child relax. The right bedtime story can help your child drift off into a deep and lasting sleep. One evening read your child  “The Dolphins at the Beach” where she will meet a young dolphin, tired from a long day of play and ready to wind down so she can sleep. With the underwater world as the backdrop of this story, your child will effortlessly drift off to sleep leaving the issue on the surface. This process and the way in which the parent ‘delivers the story’ to the child is proven to create long term and deep changes in kids.

Meta4kids is a world first collection of short stories for kids to deal with issues, build confidence and tolerance.

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