Creating Quality Sleep Habits for Kids - Sleep Hygiene for Kids

Last updated: September 4th, 2023

Sleep Hygiene for Kids

Helping children get quality sleep means teaching them healthy sleep hygiene practices early. Sleep hygiene incorporates habits to habits and lifestyle choices to increase quality of sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Encourage your child to practice these habits to foster better sleep hygiene.

  • Set a consistent bedtime routine that’s consistent from day to day.
  • Have your kids turn off screens for at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Keep the bedroom temperature comfortable and conducive to sleep.
  • Make sure the bedroom is dark, quiet, and free of clutter.
  • Encourage an hour or two of physical activity during the day.
  • Avoid overly stimulating activities like video games or watching TV an hour or two before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine leading up to bedtime.
  • Create a nighttime ritual to help them wind down.

Sleep hygiene and its effectiveness depend on the age of the child. For primary-school-aged children, creating specific routines around bedtime that stay mostly consistent, like having a warm bath or listening to soothing music, can help relax children and start the transition from awake to asleep.

Making a Sleepy Bedroom

No matter the age of a child, it’s a good idea to create an environment that is conducive to sleep. Adjust the temperature in the bedroom so it isn’t too hot or cold. A temperature of approximately 60-67°F is ideal. Investing in blackout shades can darken a room, preventing color and bright light from coming through. White noise machines, fans, or humidifiers may also help. Get rid of all the tech, like phones and TVs, that may otherwise disturb sleep.

Having a comfortable bed can help kids sleep better, too. Choose sheets that are easy to clean and made of breathable, natural material. Make sure the mattress is comfortable and not too soft or too firm. The mattress should also accommodate any growth spurts your child may experience!

Overcoming Bedtime Worry

Bedtime worry—worrying in bed that prevents sleep—is a common cause of insomnia in children. Worry is something we all experience, especially as children, but the fear of not falling asleep can be compounded if a child feels unable to talk about their worries. Establishing conversation about worries can help children feel comfortable and have an outlet for their fears. Encourage them to talk to you about things they may be uncertain of or scared of, particularly around bedtime.

Focusing on a calming practice can also help children relax and overcome their worries. Surprisingly, playing meditation apps for kids or trying guided meditation can help quell bedtime fretfulness. Kids thought that these techniques were fun and enjoyed the relaxation they provided.

The Art of the Room Check

When children are especially anxious around bedtime, having a room-check ritual may help them relax and make them sleepy. The room check process is simple: Have your child think of anything that’s preventing them from getting comfortable or stays in the room that may be causing them to feel anxious or scared.

Together with your child, you can conquer each of these items and come up with a solution to thwart them. Your child may not need this practice every night, but if it helps you and your child troubleshoot bedtime worries, it can be an effective way to put your child at ease.

When To See the Doctor

If sleep disturbances persist and you’ve tried the strategies we’ve offered here with no success, contact your doctor. There are medical solutions available to help children with sleep illness, including stimulants prescribed to reduce nighttime awakenings, medications to stop nighttime seizures, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy.

Bedtime routine and environment do influence sleep in children and may help lessen sleep disturbances, but sometimes professional help is needed. If you’ve reached that point, get in touch with your pediatrician for further guidance.

Final Remarks

Sleep is an essential element in a child’s life, and parents should seek help when their child is having difficulty. There are many paths to better sleep without medications. Just as sleep effects all types of people in different ways, children may respond differently to these lifestyle modifications outlined above. Finding the right combination of habits and adjustments may take some trial and error, but ultimately, with the proper tools, you can give your kids the necessary help to ensure they get adequate sleep while still giving them the freedom to express themselves. If your child is still having trouble, don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician for help.

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