Strategies for a Successful Night
Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, MD, Pediatrician
Most parents understand the importance of a great night of sleep for their child. What they don’t always know is how to make it happen. In my practice, Moms often ask me for advice on how to help their child sleep better, even after a full day of school, activities, homework, and chores. And they often admit the battle to get their child to sleep is so stressful they sometimes just give up.
Here’s what to do: take a deep breath, relax, and think differently about bedtime. Think of it as a wonderful time to bond with your child instead of a time of struggle. Research shows children who have close connections to parents and other family members have better self-esteem and generally struggle less with peer pressure and depression. Begin by engaging your child in a quiet activity such as reading to ease them into night time mode. Books relating to activities your child enjoys is a great way to talk about their day. Or, carefully chosen books teaching lessons can be a good way to instill shared beliefs and values.
Sometimes night time speed bumps can make bedtime more difficult for some children, such as nightmares, bedwetting, or being scared of the dark. It’s important for parents to address these issues with reassurance and sensitivity. Bedwetting, for instance, is often a condition with no cure. But, there are ways to manage bedwetting and other nighttime issues to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep. I often recommend GoodNites® Sleep Pants as a first step. GoodNites® can help reduce kids’ anxiety around bedtime and protect their self-esteem by giving children a sense of control over a situation that is not their fault, helping relieve guilt and frustration until they outgrow it. Also, limit drinks before sleep. Instead of a glass of water before bed, have your child quench their thirst with a cup of ice chips instead of a glass of water before bed.
According to the National Association for Continence, 15 percent of children who wet the bed spontaneously become dry throughout the night each year. Sharing a few moments at bedtime is an opportunity to give your child the confidence they need to know they will eventually overcome the condition.
What else can you do to ensure your child is getting a good night’s sleep?
- Establish a bedtime routine - A regular routine helps your child anticipate what is expected of them at bedtime and helps avoid struggles.
- Set the mood - Create a sleep friendly environment by lowering the noise level, dimming the lights, and checking the temperature of your child’s room.
- Feel full - Give your child a small healthy snack about an hour before bed to avoid hunger pangs.
- Stick to it - Bedtime routines on weekends are just as important as weekdays.