Sweet Dreams: 9 Cozy Sleep Hygiene Tips for Kids

Parents, we get it: sleep hygiene – or getting kids to bed – can be a tricky task. Even when they need sleep, they might say, “No! I want to stay up.” And sometimes, after finally getting them into bed, they’ll wake up, saying they can’t sleep or that something scared them in the middle of the night.

But there are solutions. As a parent, creating a conducive sleep environment and instilling healthy sleep habits in your little one is crucial and can pave the way for a lifetime of healthy sleep habits. 

Let’s explore the concept of sleep hygiene. Here are nine practical tips to help your restless little one enjoy restful nights. Just remember that each child is unique, so it may take some time to discover what works best for your family. 

Understanding Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene refers to the practices and habits that contribute to a good night’s sleep. Children are still developing physically and mentally, so establishing a solid sleep routine early on is important. 

Here’s how you can foster sleep hygiene for your kid.

1. Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine

A habit is something that becomes second nature, like brushing your teeth. But habits can take several weeks or months of repetition to become second nature. And training your body to fall asleep at a certain time is no exception.

Create a consistent bedtime routine to signal to your child that it’s time to wind down. This routine can include activities such as reading a bedtime story, gentle music, or a warm bath. 

Consistency helps regulate the body’s internal clock, making it easier for kids to fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day.

2. Set a Regular Sleep Schedule

Speaking of setting your child’s internal clock, children thrive on routine. A consistent sleep schedule is a key component of good sleep hygiene. 

When winding down is a consistent part of your child’s daily routine, you’ll find that it takes a lot less coaxing to get them to fall asleep around bedtime.You won’t have to tell them to get ready for bed because their bodies will automatically enforce their bedtime.

Set a bedtime that allows for an adequate amount of sleep based on your child’s age. For example, preschoolers generally need 10 to13 hours of sleep, while school-aged children require 9 to 11 hours.

3. Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Ensure that your child’s bedroom is conducive to sleep. This includes a comfortable mattress and pillows, as well as appropriate room temperature and lighting. 

Dim the lights as bedtime approaches to signal to the body that it’s time to wind down.

4. Limit Screen Time Before Bed

The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it more difficult for kids to fall asleep. 

Establish a screen-free time at least an hour before bedtime.

Encourage quiet activities instead, such as reading a book or drawing.

5. Encourage Physical Activity During the Day

Regular physical activity during the day can contribute to a better night’s sleep. 

Encourage your child to engage in age-appropriate physical activities, but avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it may have the opposite effect.

6. Watch Your Child’s Diet

Be mindful of your child’s diet, especially in the evening. Limit sugar intake, as it can interfere with sleep. 

Choose light, healthy snacks at night. This could include whole-grain crackers with cheese or a small bowl of yogurt with berries. For dinner, consider warm foods such as soup and veggies. It’s best to not let your child snack an hour before bedtime, as their stomach will be digesting food while they’re trying to fall asleep.

Be cautious of gassy or sugary foods, like sodas, that might disturb sleep. If they eat a heavy meal, make sure they do so at least a few hours before sleep.

7. Teach Relaxation Techniques

Help your child develop relaxation techniques to ease into sleep. Simple practices such as deep breathing or visualization can make a big difference. 

These techniques not only promote relaxation but also empower children to manage stress and anxiety.

8. Foster Independence

Parents of young kids (2-4): try not to check in on them constantly at night. As parents, we know that you want to be there for your child. But if you have done a good job, then they are all set. We need to help them learn how to comfort themselves without hovering.

Help your child become independent and less anxious as they grow. Checking in on them in the event of a real danger is one thing, but pouty parties are another thing altogether. 

Find that balance between reassurance and giving them space to comfort themselves—they will be better off for it.

9. Be Mindful of Sleep Disorders

Pay attention to signs of sleep disorders, such as persistent snoring, difficulty breathing, or restless sleep. If you notice any concerns, consult with a pediatrician to rule out any underlying issues affecting your child’s sleep.

By prioritizing sleep hygiene, you’re not only ensuring your child’s well-being but also nurturing a positive and loving bedtime environment. Sweet dreams await! For more topics related to health and wellness, follow along with our Hospitality Health ER blog! We’ve recently covered related topics in 9 Winter Health Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season and Hand Hygiene 101: Teaching Kids Proper Hand Washing for Better Health. For giveaways, updates, and COVID-19 tips, like us on Facebook and Instagram.