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Make Bedtime a Dream for Your Kids, You

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a baby’s sleep-wake cycle begins to develop at about six weeks, and by three to six months most infants have a regular sleep-wake cycle. By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake. But, when your child doesn’t sleep, it can feel like your dream child has become a nightmare.

To help both you and your little one get some sound shut-eye, the first step is to understand how much sleep is enough sleep. In children over the age of two, the easiest way to determine bedtime is to try a week-long “vacation” in which they go to bed at the same time every night, and you allow them to sleep in as long as they need.  Earlier in the week they may be catching up on sleep, but by the end of the week their schedule should settle into typical number of hours.

Other tips to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Develop a 15-30 minute quiet routine prior to bed.
  • No electronics for an hour prior to bed, they emit a light that tells the brain to “wake up!”
  • Avoid caffeine in young children, limit to 1 8 oz in the morning for adolescents.
  • Use lower-wattage light bulbs for an hour prior to bed and sleep in the dark (or a very small night light placed far from the bed).
  • Sleep in cool temperatures (68F)
  • Keep the bedroom quiet at night.  Use a fan to mask outside noises.
  • Avoid co-sleeping with parents, siblings, or pets as their movements can awaken your child

Following these tips should help soothe your child, give them independence and help you get some much-needed and deserved rest. However, if you continue to have problems, get some help for you and your family.  Talk to your primary care physician about building good sleep habits.  If those strategies are not successful, consult an interprofessional team of specialists at Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Sleep Clinic. They can help treat more than 14 sleep disorders and conditions for infants, toddlers, young children and adolescents.

For more information about our inpatient and outpatient sleep disorder services, call (501) 364-1893. 

 

About the Author:

Wendy L. Ward, Ph.D., A.B.P.P

Associate director of the section of pediatric psychology at UAMS College of Medicine and Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

 

 

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