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Behavior, Parenting and Discipline > Sleep Tips

Sleep Tips

Sleep-Tips.pngWhen children are chronically tired they might not act like adults do when they're tired. They might seem angry, irritable, hyperactive, or just quiet. If your child isn't sleeping well, try the following tips. If it doesn't improve, then schedule an appointment for further evaluation.

Set the environment: Make sure the room is cool, dark, and quiet. Background or white noise can be helpful. This can be from a fan or white noise machine. Try to make your bed and pillow as comfortable as possible for you.

Exercise helps! Getting exercise at least 3 hours before bedtime can help tire your body. If exercise is too close to bedtime though it can make it hard to settle down.

Avoid big meals before bedtime. Eating too close to laying down can cause trouble sleeping. A healthy light snack with protein can help some kids sleep, but keep portion sizes small.

Keep a routine. Habits can help. Bathe, read a book, listen to music, play a family game, get a massage, tell stories, journal, and do other calming activities.

If thoughts keep you up, journal before climbing into bed. This can help focus thoughts and allow your brain to stop thinking about them.

Relaxation exercises or deep breathing can help. Put a hand on your heart and on your abdomen. Try to keep your heart hand still while you take in a slow, deep breath. While you inhale count 4 counts and while you exhale count 8 counts. The deep breaths can make you feel tired, and the counting slowly helps keep your brain from racing thoughts. For more relaxation exercise tips, visit this National Sleep Foundation page.

Avoid caffeine and highly sugary snacks after 3pm. Of course they are never healthy, so only have these as a special treat, and never within 4 hours of bedtime.

Keep bedtime the same. Even if you can sleep in on weekends, try to go to bed within an hour of your usual bedtime. This schedule is important!

Get up and out early. Going outside into the sunlight can help adjust your body's circadian rhythm and your sleep patterns.

Turn off the screens. Your body needs darkness to make melatonin. Melatonin makes you feel tired and helps you fall asleep. Artificial lights keep the melatonin level from increasing, so you feel less tired. Fluorescent lights, televisions, computers, cell phones, tablets, and all other lighted things can affect your melatonin level. Check out f.lux, a free program for PCs, Macs, iPhones, and androids that changes the screen lighting prior to bedtime to allow natural melatonin to rise for those who must be on a screen close to bedtime. 

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