How Do I Get My Kids To Sleep?!

We have been getting a lot of questions lately about sleep, both in younger kids and older teens.

For toddlers and school-age kids, many are struggling with the transition back to school (whether online or in-person) and emerging from their bubble from the past several months. Some kids may be struggling with separation anxiety and this can be seen at school drop-off, but also at bedtime.

  • Give your child enough time to wind down after school – many kids work so hard to behave all day in the classroom that they really need a safe space to blow off steam when they get home
  • Have a set bedtime every night and stick to it – if your child tends to get cranky by the time you tuck them in, try to move their bedtime up a little earlier
  • Have a standard pre-bedtime routine (i.e. bath, books, bed) so your child knows what to expect, this helps a lot with anxious children!
  • Try to make it a quick exit after saying goodnight, similar to dropping your child off at school – once you say it’s time for you to go, it’s time for you to go
  • Your job is to get them to bed, not make them fall asleep – it is important for children to fall asleep themselves each night when they are ready

For teenagers, many are struggling with getting back into their usual school-year circadian rhythm, often staying up really late and having trouble getting up in the morning for class.

  • Have a set bedtime and wakeup time that is the same every day
    • Most teens need at least 8 hours of sleep per night
    • You may need to adjust the bedtime backward by 1-2 hours each night for a few days to get them back to a more appropriate bedtime
  • Sleep hygiene is super important
    • Ensure your bedroom is dark and set to a cool/comfortable temperature
    • Make your bedroom a stress-free place – avoid doing homework in bed
    • No looking at electronics for at least 1 hour before bedtime!
  • Other helpful tips for sleep
    • Eat healthy meals and avoid heavy or spicy snacks before bedtime
    • Limit caffeinated drinks to the morning only
    • Get regular exercise – this helps our body wind down easier at night
    • Try listening to something calming before bed such as a podcast or meditation app
    • You can also do a short term trial of melatonin about 30-60 minutes before bed to help reset your sleep cycle, this should only be used in combination with the above strategies and you should always start with the lowest dose possible

For specific questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to our office anytime.

Stay safe everyone!

Dr. Hager

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