Let's learn something: Better bedtimes for our children

Image by Shawn Campbell
I really did't intend to keep talking about sleep this week. But, let's go ahead and cover this topic one more time. I promise to move on to something else next week.

I've given a tongue-in-cheek glance at the bedtime routine in our household before. The main theme of which is that my son doesn't want to go to sleep. I can't blame him for feeling that he is missing out on the crazy/exciting things my husband and I are doing while he is in bed (watching TV/cleaning up/falling asleep).

As it turns out, there is a way that I can help make my son's bedtime better. And, interestingly enough - the steps are similar to what adults need to do to get their bodies ready for sleep. Basically, we have to pay attention to his biological clock.

For any of us to do that, we have to pay attention to melatonin levels. This hormone is key to our sleep cycles and sensitive to light. Our melatonin levels tend to surge about two hours before our natural bedtime. Not enough melatonin in our systems, and it takes a long time to fall asleep, which can spark the string of "mom, I'm thirsty" comments as children struggle to settle.

Here's how we parents can help:
  • Dim the lights about an hour before bedtime.
  • Avoid electronic devices - their glow is a stimulant.
  • Let children experience natural light to help them stay sensitive to wake up cues.
  • Routines (we've talked about those before).
And finally, we need to keep in mind that sleep needs will change as our children grow. Don't be afraid to reassess as needed.

What about your household? How do you promote good sleep habits in your children or in yourself? Tell me in the comments.

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