Getting a good night’s sleep is something that everybody needs and naturally craves. However, it can sometimes inexplicably feel impossible to fall asleep or stay asleep long enough. Kids certainly aren’t immune from sleep troubles, with an estimated 20-30% of kids struggling with sleep problems. Thankfully, sleep issues aren’t without explanations, and identifying the factors that could be keeping your kids up at night could help them get better sleep.
Kids don’t have to pay a mortgage, put food on the table, or drive through traffic, so what exactly do they have to worry about? The fact of the matter is that kids are constantly under stress as they develop and learn in preparation to become independent adults, and they often struggle with healthy coping skills. Childhood anxiety goes unnoticed and underestimated for the most part, with many adultsmistaking anxiety for bad or undisciplined behavior. Teach your kids early how to deal with anxiety naturally, includingmodeling healthy coping skills, teaching mindfulness, and making use of aromatherapy. You’ll likely find that their struggles with sleep improve.
While few people intentionally drink a cup of coffee right before bed, it has become relatively normal to not give a second thought about consuming caffeinated drinks like soda at dinner or even later in the evening. The effects of caffeine last for about four to six hours, meaning your kids will likely feel overstimulated at bedtime if they consumed caffeine in the evening. Keep an eye out for foods like chocolate for dessert, which contains a surprising amount of caffeine.
By now, most parents are aware of the ways that screens interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm and do their best to avoid screen time before bedtime. However, you should also make sure that your kids aren’t engaging in over stimulating activities right before bedtime. While it’s good to schedule physical activities during the day, there should be a couple hour gap between those activities and bedtime. The last 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime should be reserved for calming activities, like drawing or making a puzzle.
Many kids won’t mention if they have sleep problems on their own, so be sure to make it a point to ask your kids how they are sleeping at night. If you discover they are having some problems, consider the factors that could be contributing to their sleep problems and see how they sleep when you make some changes. If you’re addressing pre-sleep worry, getting rid of hidden sources of caffeine, and engaging them incalming activities before bed, you will likely see improvements in their sleep. If they continue to have sleep problems, you should consult a physician.