Parenting Tip Tuesday

Let Sleeping Children Sleep

With school starting for many children, I thought this would be timely. Just as adults function better with a good night’s sleep, children also benefit from adequate sleep and rest. Without enough sleep, your adorable little one may temporarily turn into a fussy, whiny, crabby, hyper mess and that’s just the part you see. On the inside, they are missing out on an important aspect of their mental and physical development. During quiet (NREM) sleep, blood supply to their muscles increases, repair and growth of tissue happens and hormones are released for growth and development. During active (REM) sleep, their brains become very active as dreaming occurs. It sort of acts like a recharge for their entire body, head to toe. Not getting enough sleep can affect their learning, ability to cope and even to fight off infections.

I’m pretty sure your kids won’t announce to you, “Whew! I’ve had quite a day. I think I should go to sleep an hour early tonight.” So, here are some tips to set the scene:

~ Time it right. Zero in on your little one for small signs he is tired. Physically slowing down, eye rubbing, slower reaction times are all little ways.

~ Avoid that “overtired” hyper-ness.  For some kids, once they pass into exhaustion, sleep may take longer to capture.

~ Keep the same sleep/wake schedule and routine, even for weekends. (Sorry! I know that one is hard.)

~ Allow time for quiet before bedtime. Take a bath, have a light snack, read together, say prayers, snuggle for a little while. Whatever feels right for you as mom or dad and is relaxing and comforting for your child.

~ Allow time to transition to sleep. Turn off the TV and computer at least an hour before bedtime.

~ Establish a rule: Once in bed, stay in bed. And, although cuddling before sleep is great bonding time, if you make a habit of letting your little one go to sleep with you there, they loose the opportunity to self-soothe and may be more likely to wake during the night. Keep the room dark and quiet or dimly lit with a nightlight.

I hope this is helpful to you and your family!