Hi Little Monster Family! Rebecca here. Little Monster Sleep Solutions has been lucky enough to work with TWO fantastic interns from UAU this year. Yorgelys is a high school junior from the Bronx whose goal is to become a pediatrician. While this post has been fact-checked and mildly edited by me, this is HER work! (Check out intern Fatoumata's design work on our Insta and fledgling Pinterest account!)
For kids, feeling scared or worried at bedtime is one of the main reasons for having trouble falling asleep. A kid might be afraid of the dark or might not like being alone. If a kid has a creative imagination, he or she might hear noises at night and fear the worst, when it's just the family cat walking down the hall.
Personally, when I was younger, I used to have nightmares all the time, and for that reason I couldn’t sleep. My dad always said that it was me, that I didn’t want to go to sleep; in reality, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to, because even when I felt so tired I just couldn’t, and my dad didn’t understand me. With time, I started noticing that I was having a lot of nightmares - not dreams. I told my dad the situation and he started thinking about possible things that were making me not sleep. He used to take my phone away earlier in the night, and turned off the lights. The fact that my dad took my phone away earlier was the best thing ever because immediately I started feeling better, because I could relax more and try to not think about bad things. Also the lights off helped me a lot too because I was could concentrate on sleeping without getting distracted with things in the bedroom.
Countless parents have experienced the frustration of trying to get kids to go to sleep and stay asleep. The coronavirus hasn’t helped matters. A lot of kids, even those who had no significant sleep issues before the pandemic, are having trouble now. And those who had struggled in the past may have regressed.
If there are worries and anxieties stopping your child from relaxing at bedtime, there are several things you can do.
Set up a bedtime routine.
Relax before bedtime.
Keep regular sleep and wake times.
Keep older children’s naps early and short.
Make sure your child feels safe at night.
Check noise and light levels in your child’s bedroom - quiet and dark are important!
Avoid watching the clock ⏰.
Eat the right amount at the night time.
Avoid caffeinated beverages.
Sometimes kids make something up to avoid sleep. For example, saying to their parents that they should leave her or his phone, because they are “not going to use it”... but they keep using it for the rest of the night. The next day, the kid would feel really tired and have a headache. This is why it is really important for kids to have an appropriate sleep schedule and be organized with their time, to have time for the things that have to be done that day.
Kids need to feel safe in order to rest well and have energy for the next day. Make sure their room feels relaxed and peaceful. Look around their room from the bed. Are there things they can see from their bed that make them feel good? If not, add some. Display some family photos or other pictures that make them happy. Let them guide you!
If you have to wake your child in the morning, it might be because they’re not getting enough sleep for a school-age child. Most primary school-age children wake by themselves in the morning if they’re getting enough sleep. If your child can’t do this, you need to check your child’s sleep habits and ask them what’s wrong, to see if there’s any worry or something that bothers them. Parents also should talk to their child's pediatrician to rule out any physical issue.