Updated: Jul 30
Is your child bouncing off the walls? Strangely enough, the cause might be a lack of sleep. Kids always seem to fight giving in to sleep, and instead, their exhaustion tends to manifest in different ways. On the surface, these ways might seem unrelated to their sleep patterns.
Over-tired kids might pick a fight with a classmate, fail to answer a question correctly during class, or become hyperactive. While there might be other factors at work, sleep deprivation could be a player.
Research has shown that irregular and late bedtimes have a major influence on kids’ behavior. Conversely, structured bedtimes, and bedtime routines help children function better in their day-to-day.
What should a good bedtime routine look like? Most importantly, it should be consistent. When you pick a bedtime that works for your family (keeping in mind that kids ages 7-13 need between 8 and 11 hours of sleep each night), stick with that bedtime every day, even on weekends.
If your child seems to put up a fight each night, try setting an alarm to announce that it’s time to start the winding down process. Some families find it helpful for a “third party” to announce that it’s pajama time.
This method helps neutralize the situation because it separates the time of day from a person saying that it’s time for bed. The winding down process could include changing into pajamas, brushing teeth, and reading a bedtime story.
If your child wants a nighttime snack, try something that’s a mix of protein and carbs. This combo helps people fall asleep while maintaining stable blood sugar throughout the night.
Lastly, when you leave your child’s room after saying goodnight, don’t go back if they call for you. This step can be a tough habit to adopt, but it’s important for showing your child that bedtime is non-negotiable. Hold your ground and they’ll learn that fighting you on this one won’t work.
Nierenberg, Cari (2013 October 14). The Secret to a Well-Behaved Child: Regular Bedtime. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/40390-kids-behavior-regular-bedtime.html
Parents Magazine (2017 August). How to Develop Bedtime Routines. Retrieved from http://www.parents.com/baby/sleep/schedule/develop-bedtime-routines/