Every parent knows that bedtime can be a bit of an ordeal. Despite the fact that their growing bodies desperately need sleep, our children never seem to actually want to hit the sack. Why? Usually, it doesn’t have anything to do with biology. More often it has to do with their environment. If the TV is on loud and blaring out blue light or if they’re doing activities until late into the evening, then they’re not going to want to wind down and curl up in bed. Instead, their minds will be buzzing about all the things that they’ve experienced and all the stuff they still want to do.
Bedtime rituals, therefore, are important. They’re what help separate out the different parts of the day and create an environment in which children actually want to go to sleep. Here are some rituals you should try at home.
Unplug And Wind Down
Kim West, a family therapist and expert on child sleep issues, says that it is crucial for kids to be given the opportunity to wind down before bed, long before their head hits the pillow. This is because of the way that sleep hormones act on the body. Sleep isn’t a switch that is flicked. Instead, it’s a process that takes at least a couple of hours in the evening as the brain slowly releases sleep hormones into the body. The problem, West says, is that some popular evening activities interrupt this process, meaning that kids are not ready to go to sleep when it’s bedtime.
So what does winding down mean in practice? According to West, it’s no TV, video games, texting or using the iPod in the hour before bedtime. Instead, the hour before bed should be dedicated to quiet conversation, hot baths or reading. No exercise.
Make Sleep Exciting
Another reason why kids never want to go to bed is that they are so enamored by the world. Everything is just so exciting and new, and they’re desperate to explore it. Parents need to remind kids that bedtime is exciting too, just in a different way. One way they can do this is to make the bed itself fun. Beds, like Cuckoolands beds for children, come in all sorts of shapes and designs that kids might find appealing. Superhero beds are always a win.
Moms can also explain to children that dreaming is, in many ways, more exciting than the real world. There’s no logic or physics in dreams, meaning that you can go anywhere or do anything.
Stick With The Routine
West says that the first couple of nights of a new routine will be difficult to stick to. Children will complain. But over time, it will become easier. As bedtime approaches, kids will receive certain cues from their environment that signal to their brains that it is time to go to sleep. As a result, there is likely to be less resistance once bedtime arrives and sleep will be easier.
In conclusion, no one-size-fits-all bedtime routine will work for every child. But there’s a lot that parents can do to make the bedtime hour easier for both themselves and their kids.