It doesn’t matter how old you are, 2 or 42, getting adequate sleep is crucial for both your physical and mental well being.
In our fast-paced world sleep is often put on the back burner. We work, volunteer, carpool, etc and are praised for being able to get it all done. When in reality we should be taking things off of our plate and taking care of ourselves.
The hard truth is…we are doing it to our children too. Between school, homework, and sports alone there is little time for anything else. And by the time our children actually do get to bed they are exhausted.
I’ve often been criticized for our daughter’s firm 7:30 pm bedtime, but we do it for her well being.
Studies show that lack of sleep in children can affect their immune systems, their learning ability in school, and is even linked to childhood obesity and depression.
When my four year old is sleep deprived, I can tell immediately. We even joke that if we are out past her bedtime we don’t even have to look at a clock to know what time it is…we can tell purely based on her behavior. Just to name a few she becomes:
- Over Sensitive
Almost all of her major tantrums that she has had in the past 1-2 years has been caused by lack of sleep.
And when she gets this way, there is no reasoning with her overtired brain. We just have to ride the wave of emotions until we can get her into bed.
Do any of these behaviors sound familiar? It isn’t just toddlers and preschoolers that suffer from the side effects of not getting enough sleep. Teens and even us as adults suffer from intense behavior changes based on the amount of sleep we have gotten the night before.
So can you imagine how lack of sleep affects our children?
What you can do about it…
Establish a Bedtime – and stick to it
Our daughter got into a really bad habit of watching movies at night. When she was younger it didn’t matter because she would pass out 30 minutes into the movie every night, but as she got older we noticed she was staying awake until 10 pm some nights!
We started putting her in bed at 7:30 pm after our bedtime routine and it made a world of difference. Most of the time she is passed out in minutes! We do let her take a book to bed that she can read on her own.
Bedtimes will look different for each kid, but the key is staying consistent with it. Bump the time up 30 minutes or so to see what works best for each child!
Kids thrive in routines. Especially bedtime routines.
Our 4-year-old is extremely independent so telling her what to do at nighttime is typically a power struggle. I printed out a bedtime routine chart that is a checklist of everything she needs to do before bedtime and she follows it on her own and LOVES it.
Find out how your kids take direction best and use it to your advantage. She loves feeling like she accomplished all of the things on her list by herself so that is what tool we use to get her moving at bedtime.
We use a routine similar to this one.
Wake Up Time
This was the hardest thing for me to do. Wake her up.
My philosophy has always been to let a sleeping child sleep, but when her sleeping in started to mess up her bedtime I knew I had to start waking her up at the same time each day.
Now, her body is waking itself up at the right time every morning and she is tired by bedtime every night.
Consistency is Key
Sleep training is not something that is done overnight. This will take nights and nights of consistency to click with you child, but I promise you it is so worth it.
It will lead to both a happy kid and happy parents!