5 Strategies To Ensure Sweet Slumber

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Every new mother braces herself for the sleepless, glazed-eyed days taking care of a newborn, but what happens when your toddler continues to wake up several times a night or your preschooler simply refuses to go to bed? How many years can you get away with arriving at work feeling and looking like a zombie?

Fortunately, bedtime battles don’t last forever. Here are five ways to get your child to bed without a fight and keep him asleep through the night.

Strategize His Slumber
If your child defies all your pleas to go to bed, consider the child’s daily activities. Is he napping for three hours in the afternoon? Are you running your child ragged, thus making him overtired and cranky? Is he watching TV right up to the moment you mention bedtime? Studies have shown that screen time less than an hour before bedtime can interfere with sleep. Consider what you can change with his daily routine in order to adjust his patterns to better fit yours.

Create A Calm Routine
A chaotic, rushed bedtime raises cortisol levels which will make it hard for your preschooler to sleep. Creating a predictable bedtime routine helps calm your child and mentally ready him for slumber. Turn off the TV, run a bath, have him brush his teeth, and then read him a book before bedtime. Eventually, his body will adapt so that he becomes sleepy as the ritual begins.

Set The Stage
Some kids are more sensitive to visual and audio stimuli than others. If her window looks out to a street light, consider installing room-darkening shades. In an active house, noise-cancelling tools may help a light sleeper, such as running a ceiling fan or using a humidifier. Is the child’s room hot? Research suggests that sleep is easier in a room that is slightly cool.

Calm His Fears
Monsters in the closet, wolves under the bed, ghosts in the shadows: Children this age have wild imaginations and few coping mechanisms. Cutting back on scary bedtime stories or TV shows is a good idea, but that won’t dampen an active imagination. Let your child talk about his fears and listen to him with empathy. Explain to him the noise that he’s hearing is the water running through the radiator, or the movement that he’s seeing is shadows caused by the headlights of cars passing by outside. Stay with him for a while and be calm and confident. If his fears persist, check out these other tips on how to deal with nighttime fears in children.

Let Him Lull Himself To Sleep
Even a child who trots calmly off to bed may still wake up several times in the middle of the night. If the child isn’t awakening in distress, it’s possible that he reached the end of a sleep cycle and found himself alert in a dark room. Because he has not yet learned to lull himself to sleep, he expects a parent to help him along.

A wise parent shows him otherwise. In a calm manner, respond to his summons, pat him on the back a little, and then remind him that it’s time to sleep. Try not to pick him up or play with him, else he’ll be encouraged to call you again. Tell him you’ll be back in 5 minutes but he must stay in his bed. Continue the loop but stretch out the interval each time. Brace yourself for some crying, because it can take several weeks for him to figure out how to put himself back to sleep.

When it comes to taking the battle out of bedtime, consistency and persistence are vital. When the going gets rough, remind yourself that to be a good parent you need your sleep, too.

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