Strategies to Make Bedtime Less of a Nightmare

So, you have followed the suggestions of my other posts and have been making an effort to get your child to go to bed at a decent hour, but now they won’t close their eyes. It isn’t like you can just tape them shut, so how are you supposed to get them to go to sleep? You are in the right place. Let’s talk about some simple strategies that can help make bedtime less of a hassle.

  1. The environment: Is their room set up optimally for sleep? 
    1. A good sleeping environment is cool, dark, and quiet.
      1. Cool: make sure the temperature in their room is a cool temperature. You are aiming for around 65 degrees. You can do this by having a fan on to keep air circulating; keeping blinds and curtains closed during the day; using a window a/c unit; or using cotton sheets can help. 
      2. Dark: light blocking curtains during the long summer days can be helpful in reducing the light that gets into the room;  Try to avoid leaving televisions on in the room (idealy they don’t have a TV in their room at all). if a nightlight is needed, try to use one that does not have a blue light. Like one of these: 
  1. Quiet: Try to avoid having any radios, music, or televisions playing for background noise. If their room is close to the living room and you plan to be talking and/or watching television, try using a white noise machine. In General,  a white noise machine may not be a bad idea as they are good about helping to soothe the mind and can be an aide in falling asleep. 
  2. Habits: Good sleep hygiene: 
    1. Avoid any electronics at least 30 minutes, but ideally an hour before bed time. The blue light in the screens tricks the brain into thinking it is daytime and therefore, not time for sleep. Tablets and phones are also incredibly stimulating to the brain and make it harder for your little one to wind down and go to bed. 
    2. What they eat before bedtime can impact their ability to sleep. Too close to bedtime, avoid heavy or fatty foods, fried foods, etc. They can lead to problems with indigestion or heart burn and can cause disruptions in sleep. 
    3. No Soda or Pop before bed. Ideally, they shouldn’t have these anyways, but if you allow them to drink caffeinated beverages, avoid them at least a couple hours before bed time. Caffeine’s entire purpose is to make you feel alert; the opposite of what you want for your sleepy child. 
    4. Add some stretching. Child yoga poses can be great for calming the mind and body before bedtime. Adding some yoga poses like Cat Pose, Cow Pose, and Downward Dog can be a fun and healthy strategy to add to your bedtime routine. If you were never bitten with the yoga bug and aren’t sure what these poses are try the item below for some help: 
  3. Routine
    1. Preschoolers need routine. The recipe for a good nights rest is everything that happens before they are under the covers and everything you do after you have left the room. A predictable routine means less anxiety about what to expect, less attempts to try and finagle their way to a few extra minutes of no sleep (i.e. “I need to go to the bathroom!” “I’m thirsty!”). 
    2. Your routine needs to be consistent and should attempt to pre-emptively target any delaying strategies. Your routine has to be specific to your families needs, but a sample routine might look like this: 
      1. 7:00pm: Electronics off; Healthy night snack and some water
      2. 7:15pm: bath time and brushing teeth
      3. 7:45pm: Potty, pajamas, and time to get under the covers. 
      4. 8:00pm: Stretching, bed time story, and lullaby
      5. 8:30pm: lights out, night lights on. 
    3. Consistency and predictability are your friends. Once lights are out, no more water breaks, no more stories; it is time for bed. I would lean on the side of caution and allow 1 bathroom break to avoid a night time accident, but after one, no more. Tuck them in after and then tuck-ins are over. 
    4. If you have had trouble with consistency in the past, this is where it is going to take some mental fortitude. Everytime you give in and fix the covers, get them another drink of water, come to the door to answer their questions or yell at them to go to sleep, or read them another story, you are rewarding their behavior and setting yourself back for, potentially, weeks. There might be crying, whining, yelling, etc, but stay strong and after a few weeks, their brains will learn that bed time means it is time to sleep and the delay tactics are not going to work. 

And there you have it. Some strategies you can start tonight to finally get a well deserved night of rest. Once you have applied all of these strategies, let me know how they worked for you. Or, if you have some other strategies you have tried, put them in the comments below. 

If you feel you have tried everything above to no avail and are about to lose your mind; schedule a free consult below and we can discuss how I can help you with some more focused strategies that can help calm bedtime in your home.