Follow these tips to help everyone in the house sleep a little easier:
Shift into family wind down mode before bedtime
- Sleep is more inviting when everyone slows down before bedtime. So, turn off the TV and engage in calming activities and gentle play before the earliest bedtime in the house, so the ritual becomes a family affair.
- Try dimming the lights after dinner to help your family wind down from a busy day, or while your child goes through their bedtime routine.
Power down devices early in the evening
- Try having the whole family avoid screen time 1-2 hours before bedtime. Even a little screen time before bed, like a quick check on social media, can disrupt sleep.
- Set a family limit on screen time and electronics use at night to suit the earliest bedtime in the home. That means everyone puts away or turns off computers, phones, televisions, video games, iPads, at a set time.
- Have a common area for everyone’s phones to be plugged in at night, outside of the bedroom.
Create a consistent bedtime routine
- Following a regular order to bedtime helps reassure and prepare your child for sleep (e.g. a relaxing bath, putting on pajamas, brushing teeth, story time in bed).
- Plan quiet, soothing activities as part of the bedtime routine, such as reading a book, listening to soft music, colouring, or writing down thoughts.
- Keep the bedtime routine short and sweet – always moving in the direction of the bedroom.
Shape the bedtime ritual together
- Children thrive on routine but allow them some flexibility within the sleep ritual, such as talking about their day instead of reading a book one night. Do stick to the basics – the same order of activities around the same time.
- Your child can’t choose when to go to bed, but letting them decide which calming activities to do beforehand, or what pajamas to wear, can give them a sense of control at bedtime.
Make sleep a family priority
- Set regular go-to-bed and wake-up times and be sure to follow them, even on weekends when wakeups should be within an hour or so of the usual time.
- If the family is running low on sleep, try tucking in 15-30 minutes earlier to get back on track.
Reduce stress and worry before bedtime
- If your child takes their worries to bed with them, have them write them down in a book or on the Stress in My Day activity sheet. Younger children can put their worries away in a Worry Box.
- Set time aside before bed to help your child share their worries or problems that day, such as after school or dinner.
Inspire calm with mindfulness or relaxation exercises
- Try deep breathing together before nap or bedtime – it’s easy! Just take a deep, slow breath in through the nose together, then slowly breathe it back out through your mouths.
- Before bedtime, do some visualization and mindfulness exercises with your child.
Set up the bedroom for better sleep
- Make sure the bedroom is as dark, cool and as quiet as possible.
- Remove distractions from the bedroom – no electronics, laptops, cell phones, or videogames.
- Make sure the bed is only used for sleeping to keep the bedroom a sanctuary – a space where there’s a clear break from school and work.
Use natural light & activity to advantage
- Natural light keeps your internal clock on a healthy sleep and wake schedule. So, draw the curtains to let in light first thing in the morning, and get outside for a sun break during the day.
- Active children tend to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and have more restful sleep. Make time for regular, daily exercise – take the dog for a walk, hit the playground, or engage in a child’s favourite backyard play.
Keep caffeine away
- Avoid caffeine at least 4-6 hours before going to bed. Soda, energy drinks, and coffee can keep kids from falling or staying asleep, even if they drink it hours before bedtime. Watch out for chocolate before bed, too, as it also contains caffeine.
To help with setting goals for healthy habits, check out more tips and resources here.