Tips to inculcate better sleep habit in kids

Any mother would concur that there is nothing more upsetting or depressing than dealing with a bleary eyed cantankerous child early in the morning on a school day. I mean let alone the fact that working mom’s have to get up at the crack of dawn in order to cook & pack lunch boxes, put breakfast on the table, wake up kids & assist them to get dressed for school,   get ready for work etc. But, when this mayhem is compounded by the uncooperative attitude of your child, then it is a sure fire recipe for early morning blues, often leading to much unwanted yelling & temper tantrums from both parties.

More often than not the major culprit for a bad mood in the morning is lack of sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep has pervaded the children of today far worse than any invasive pest. Our kids are not only sleep deprived because of a reduction in their sleep time (number of hours that they sleep) but also due to the quality of the sleep that they get. Not just mood swings but lack of sleep can also lead to a lot of other problems such as emotional issues like depression, mental break downs, inability to focus in school etc. This gradually starts affecting both the home life and also school performance.

Admittedly, kids today are bogged down by academic pressure and that in turn has also led to kids & adolescents sleeping much later at night than recommended. They are definitely unable to get their quota of 8 hours of sleep. Added to this is the addiction of screen time whether it is on the TV (watching a favorite show) or on the cell phone (on social media etc).

To ensure your kids are getting the sleep they need for their health and performance at school, a few simple steps can be followed. These are just a few simple home tried ways that can help you to ensure that your child gets adequate sleep.

  • Make electronics less accessible at night – Screen time should be limited to not more than 1-2 hours a day be it on the TV, tablet or even cell phone. Most medical professionals recommend this. I personally feel that all screen related activities should cease 1 hour before bed time, at night. Watching your favorite programs or screen before bedtime is a mental stimulant so should be avoided. The hour before sleep should be devoted to de-stress activities or to family interactions.
  • Teach the child that the bed is for sleep only.Many children are habituated to using their phones before bedtime which can make it more difficult to fall asleep as they could be constantly checking for messages on social media from friends etc. Hence, instruments like cell phones, tablets, laptops etc should not be allowed on the bed and especially prior to sleep time. The bed should be associated with sleep & relaxation only and when this practice is followed, it is much easier to relax once you are on the bed.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime routine for the child. All activities preceding the bedtime of the child should be relaxing and not stimulating. Participating in games and other strenuous activities either in the latter half of the evening or close to the bedtime would stimulate them mentally and may be a deterrent to sleep. Hence, it is advisable to indulge in relaxing activities like a taking a bath, reading a book, tucking the child into bed, good night kisses, stroking the child’s hair while they try to sleep etc. One of my fondest childhood memories till date is being tucked into bed by my father. Every night, he would tuck me and my brother into bed and would sit with us stroking our hair, till we fell asleep. The memory of my father’s soft touch still lingers and serves to bring a smile to my face, even today. Just the memory of his touch is enough to make me feel protected and loved till date.
  • Stick to a bedtime routine with the child. This is perhaps the most important and yet the most difficult thing to do. However, it is vital that children go to bed at a reasonable hour so that they get their full quota of sleep. Sticking to good sleep habits will ensure that the child wakes up fresh the next day and is not only in a happy mood but also more attentive. Most kids whether young or older, tend to stall before bedtime. They try to buy more time before eventually settling in for the night. However, as parents it is important to not encourage this behavior. Children with both parents working long hours often get to see their parents only around their bedtime. In some such cases the parents allow the children to be up later than usual in order to be able to spend some time with them. However, this habit leads to a disturbance in the sleeping pattern and may affect child’s performance in school. Hence discourage late sleeping habits and encourage waking up slightly earlier each morning. You can make it a point to have breakfast together in order to spend some time with the child when everyone is bright, refreshed and rested. This will lead to a better quality of interaction.

Image – Annie Spratt via unsplash

About Sonal Singh

I believe that life is a repertoire of anecdotes. The various situations that we encounter, the many incidents of every day, the people we meet, our conversations with them; all make life a melange of tales. And, that is what I attempt to capture through my writing. My cooking is no different! It reflects my love for travel and my love for innovation. The kitchen is my happy place. So, even though by vocation I am a recruiter (, by passion I am a writer, home chef and a hodophile.

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