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Trouble sleeping at night? : 15 ways to help your child sleep better at night 

Kids can also have trouble sleeping or staying asleep throughout the night. It’s not only something that adults face. Numerous things can be the cause such as school and home problems. 

When your child struggles with sleep, the whole family suffers, and this can be quite frustrating. There’s the tantrums, the tears, the endless requests for another bedtime story or one more glass of water… it’s exhausting. However, beyond frustration, sleep struggles can also impact your child’s mood, behavior, and overall well-being. Sleep is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for children, as it plays a role in their growth and development. 

As a parent, you want to help your child develop healthy sleep habits they will follow later in life. But the burning question is “Where do I start?” If your child is having trouble sleeping, don’t worry – don’t fret because you’re not the only parent going through this, you’re not alone. And more importantly, there are solutions. 

Key takeaway

In this article, we will explore effective strategies to help your child fall asleep and stay asleep all night.

15 things to do to help your child sleep better if they’re having trouble sleeping.

A happy child who isn’t having trouble sleeping

1 . Laugh with them before sleeping

You probably have no idea how children love seeing their parents happy when spending time with them. Like real joy. And most especially, when you laugh wholeheartedly when you’re around them. Laughing and having a good time with your kid/kids can make them feel fulfilled, and loved. These emotions can bring them some sort of satisfaction which can help them sleep better at night. Therefore, if your little one has trouble sleeping, try laughing with them and see what happens. 

2 . Kiss them goodnight

Even if most adults will never admit this LOL, being kissed good night is a very beautiful feeling, which can improve one’s bedtime. So, if they can benefit from this, imagine a little child, and how much it can help them feel safe and secure in their home. Also, it can help build their confidence and make them more comfortable with you. The feeling you get when you know you’re loved can relieve stress and anxiety for anyone. Therefore, always make the effort to kiss them goodnight each night, don’t just send them to bed.

3 . Spray some of your cologne in their room 

Right from birth, children have been known to sense the presence of their parents, even when they can’t recognize faces yet. Your scent is a very powerful thing, and leaving some of it in their bedroom can help them feel safe. And this can prevent them from having trouble sleeping. Your kids have grown to know how you smell, even if you recently changed your perfume, they will know. So when their bedroom smells like mummy or daddy (or both), it can help them sleep better. It’ll make them feel closer to you as if you’re next to them. Therefore, try to spray some of your perfume (not too much) and see what happens. 

4 . Try to see them even if you get home late

Take some time to pay a brief visit to your child’s bedroom, before you carry on with your night routine. You don’t have to wake them up if they’re already sleeping, but your presence can do something good. This can make your child feel special, and safe even if they don’t know you’re there in that moment. Just walk into their room, sit calmly next to them, look at their pretty face, smile, peck them, and tell them you love them. 

5 . Tell them not to wait up if you’re coming home late

Maybe you have a bedtime story routine with your child, but you know you will be late. Call and let them know how much you wish you could be there. So they won’t stay up late waiting for you even when they’re already in bed. You can ask them if they want someone else to read them a story, and see what they say. However, if by chance they decline, don’t query them, just laugh it off with them to look forward to tomorrow’s story time.

6 . Make them engage in evening walks to tire them out 

Physical activity such as walking is said to boost melatonin levels in the body. This can help prevent your child from having sleep troubles. Therefore, take a long walk in the evening with your child, and to make it more exciting, bring your pet along. Even though you don’t have a pet, you can still make it exciting by asking them to come on a “walk adventure” with you. Or tell them you want to take them to one of your favorite stores or go sightseeing in your favorite shoe shop. 

7 . Help their diet by reducing their sugar intake 

Eating too much sugar can significantly affect a child’s and an adult’s sleep pattern. It can lead to them having trouble sleeping. Too much sugar can cause an energy surge,  blood sugar spike, and crash, making it difficult for children to wind down and relax before bed. All leading to increased alertness, and a disrupted night’s sleep. Which results in poor sleep quality, fatigue, and a higher risk of sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea. Additionally, sugar can affect melatonin production, which ends up causing wakefulness. So therefore you need to reduce sugary foods and drinks, especially before bedtime. 

8 . Create a bedtime routine for them 

The things you do with them or for them moments before bedtime can be very helpful. You can help try to develop a calming pre-sleep routine, like bath time, reading, singing, or small chats to catch up. This can help them wind down and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. When you do this, you can prevent your child from having trouble sleeping or falling asleep. 

9 . Stick to a consistent sleep schedule

It’s important that your child goes to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends. It can encourage regular sleep times, and prevent them from struggling to sleep at night. 

10 . Avoid screens before bedtime

It’s best to limit your child’s or children’s exposure to electronic devices at least an hour before sleep. Which means no video games, TV, or YouTubing before bed. This will help them sleep better, and prevent them from finding it hard to sleep. Also, it’ll help their brain stay calm and not feel anxious about not playing games anymore or watching movies. 

11 . Encourage relaxation techniques: 

Children also need to practice relaxation techniques, it’s not just an “adult activity”. Therefore, teach your child deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided imagery to help them feel calm, and sleep better. 

12 . Don’t let them drink too much water  before bedtime

It’s best to not let them drink too many liquids before bedtime because it can cause them to feel bloated and uncomfortable. And this can cause them trouble sleeping or staying asleep at night. Instead, encourage your child to use the bathroom right before bed, so they can feel lighter and comfortable. 

13 . Encourage a comfort object

It’s quite a cliche for your child’s comfort object to be their favorite toy or blanket for reassurance. Why not make things more unique by giving them something of yours to spend the night with? Whether it’s a toy you love or something they know you value, let them spend a few nights with them. Their favorite toy is still welcome to stay, but your favorite thing can also be a companion to them. You can give them your favorite scarf, puffy key holder, and other things you value.

14 . Gradually help them  transition to independence

As nice as it is to allow your child to spend time with you before bedtime, it’s equally important that you instill independence in them to fall asleep. Encourage your child to self-soothe and fall asleep independently, without you having a hand in it. And praise them each time they do it, remember children love to see their parents marvel at their efforts! 

15 . Consult a pediatrician or sleep specialist

If your child still has trouble sleeping, try to seek professional help. You will get a diagnosis and know what the issue could be.

Remember, every child is unique, so try different combinations of these strategies to find what works best for your child. Be patient, consistent, and supportive, and work hand in hand with your child to develop healthy sleep habits. 

Possible causes 

Some reasons your child is having trouble sleeping 

Nightmares 

Sometimes nightmares, especially recurring ones, can make your child not want to sleep, which can cause them to have trouble sleeping. You can try having a conversation with them regarding their nightmares and their feelings about these nightmares. So you can hear their thoughts and know how to go from there. When they tell you about the constant nightmares, try to assure them of their safety if this occurs. 

However, in other cases, they might not want to open up about their nightmares, and you must not pressure them. Always assure them that they’re safe, and that you are with them. If possible spend some nights with them, and see if anything changes. 

School problems such as bullying

Bullying is a serious issue that affects children, and it mostly stems from a school environment. Likely, your child will not tell you they’re being bullied, due to fear of being judged or things escalating. This is why you should always try to have conversations with your child, and ask smart questions that can make them loosen up. 

Some examples:

Talk about someone you’re having problems with at work (it can make you relatable)

Ask them how they feel about bullying 

Talk about friendships 

Ask them if they know anyone who’s being bullied 

Try to make them talk about what they would do if they were being bullied 

Speak about trust 

Unable to make friends 

Because they’re having trouble making friends, it can keep them up at night, especially on a school night. Which can leave them feeling unhappy and unable to fall asleep due to restlessness and overthinking.

They’re keeping a secret 

Your child can be feeling uneasy due to keeping a secret from you. Even adults can feel this way as well. And it could be about anything or anyone, so you must always have calm and deep talks with your child. Also, help them understand the importance of trust and build it with them.

They could be depressed 

They may be going through depression or a state of anxiety. Children can be depressed as well and you must understand the potential signs and symptoms of depression in children. 

Read this article 8 warning signs of depression in your child

They have a crush 

Your child may also be crushing hard on another child at school, and it’s a form of excitement that can keep them up at night.

You punished them

Maybe they did something recently and you scolded them harshly and didn’t speak to them before bedtime. This can make them feel very sad and upset about it, and it causes them to stay up or wake up at odd hours of the night. 

Fear of bedwetting

If your child is going through bedwetting, they might become scared to sleep, due to fear of bedwetting. And it’s worse when you harshly reprimand them, they become scared. Therefore their only option is to stay awake as much as possible, and this can cause sleep problems. 

They’re scared of the dark

The fear of sleeping in the dark is quite common with kids, though they will outgrow it. However, some don’t and you still have adults who can’t stay by themselves in the dark ( haha), though it’s not a bad thing. If your child is afraid to sleep in total darkness, you can get them low-light lamps, assure them they are safe, and sometimes stay till they fall asleep. 

A message from Medspurs

If your child is having trouble sleeping, it can be due to lack of attention from you, school issues, or personal problems. And being there for your child is one of the best ways to cure their sleep problems.

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