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For busy kids, sleep is often the only time when their bodies get to rest. Getting enough sleep is critical for your children for many reasons:

• Sleep is important for a child’s growing and developing body.

• • Children who get good sleep are less cranky and moody.

• • Getting enough sleep dramatically effects how well a child functions in school.

• • Children who get enough sleep are healthier and get sick less often.

And, let’s face it, parents need kids to sleep too! You need a few hours in the evening to relax and reconnect without your kids around.

Getting children to go to sleep at night can be a very time consuming, frustrating process—but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to make bedtime a little easier and help your children get the sleep they need.

Feeling safe

Kids need to feel safe to go to sleep. Even very young children today are exposed to high levels of violence and disturbing images on television or in video games. This can cause fear and anxiety about sleeping. Carefully monitor what they are watching to help lessen their nighttime fears.

For many children a low nightlight is enough to chase the fears away. Be sure to help them explore under their bed, in their closet and any shadows to alleviate their fears.

It may be tempting to sneak out of the room once your child is asleep—even leaving them home with a babysitter. While this may seem like a way to minimize drama, it actually can feel like a huge betrayal of trust to children. Once they figure out that you are doing this, they may actively fight sleeping. So, always be honest about when you’ll be leaving their bedroom and where you will be after that.

Feeling sleepy

Children’s bodies take time to wind down after a busy day. Avoid foods with sugar and caffeine as much as possible, but especially in the late afternoon and evening.

Watching a TV show to settle into bed may seem like a calming activity, but actually it is a stimulant to your child’s brain and will make it harder for them to go to sleep. Instead, try reading bedtime books together or listening to soft, soothing music.

Most people sleep best in a cool, dark room–however, be sensitive to your child’s preferences and find what works best for him or her.

Feeling comfortable

Children sleep best when they are comfortable and cozy. Pay very close attention to the fabrics that are touching your child’s skin. Be sure to wash any new bedding with hypoallergenic laundry detergents. Many of the detergents and softeners that are meant to make laundry smell nice can really irritate children’s skin which will make it harder for them to go to sleep.

Help your child pick out their own pajamas. Look for cotton fabrics that are the appropriate for the weather. You might be surprised how much having comfortable sleepware for your baby girl or boy can make a difference in helping him or her go to sleep.

Don’t forget to lotion your child’s dry skin before bed to make sure they are comfortable and not itchy.

Zzzzz….

Elementary school aged children need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night, but unfortunately few get it. Helping your child get enough sleep can be challenging and especially at first may be very time consuming. However, with consistency and patience you can do it!

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