What To Do When Your Child Won’t Sleep

Sleep is a hot topic among baby moms but what happens after they’re 4, 5, 8, or 10 and they still don’t sleep? Getting enough restful sleep is crucial for kids overall health, academic performance, and well-being. Today we as parents are fighting against screens and extracurriculars to find time for our family and to wind down enough to get our kids the sleep they need. Because screen time is prevalent, it’s important to understand the impact of sleep on behavior, school performance, and overall wellness. As a sleep consultant and parent coach I work with families regularly who are fighting this same battle so let’s dive in to some of my best tips.

Screen Time and Sleep:

Let’s jump right into the big one. I know that monitoring screens can feel overwhelming but trust me, it’s crucial. Recent studies from 2024 highlight the concerning trend of increased screen time among children ages 6-10. On average, children in this age group spend a staggering 6-8 hours per day engaged with screens, including smartphones, tablets, computers, and TVs. This prolonged exposure to screens, particularly in the evening hours, can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and hinder the quality of sleep.

Impact of Sleep on Behavior and School Performance:

Research consistently demonstrates the profound impact of sleep on children’s behavior, cognitive function, and academic achievement. Adequate sleep plays a crucial role in:

  • Regulating mood and emotional well-being.
  • Enhancing attention, concentration, and memory.
  • Promoting problem-solving skills and creativity.
  • Supporting optimal brain development and learning.

Conversely, insufficient or poor-quality sleep has been linked to:

  • Increased risk of behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity and impulsivity.
  • Declines in academic performance, including lower test scores and reduced cognitive functioning.
  • Heightened susceptibility to stress, anxiety, and mood disorders.

How Do I Help My Child Sleep

Ok so now that we’ve shared all the scary data let’s talk solutions:

  • Establish a Consistent Bedtime Routine: This can not be overstated. A bedtime routine gives kids time to wind down their brains and bodies before sleep. They begin to anticipate sleeping when it is linked to specific activities. Put on pj’s, brush teeth, read for 10 minutes, say goodnight is enough to calm them before bed.
  • Set Screen Time Limits: Limit screen time, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, this means no tablet or phone at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The exposure to overstimulating sounds and images as well as blue light prevent melatonin production.
  • Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment: The sleep space is so important in having a good night’s rest. Keep the bedroom  cool, dark, and use a sound machine to drown out background noise. I strongly recommend removing all electronics from your child’s bedroom. 
  • Encourage Physical Activity: Physical activity is very important for a good night sleep. Most kids have an innate desire to play and be active but screens are a large distraction. Even if your child is in sports or dance, taking time to just play outside unstructured can build their bodies sleep pressure and melatonin production.
  • Monitor Caffeine Intake: It’s even more important for kids to avoid caffeine. Caffeine interferes with growth, hormone production and is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.
  • Prioritize Consistent Sleep Schedule: Kids ages 6-10 need 10-12 hours of sleep at night. If they get up for school at 6:30 this means bedtime is at 8:30 pm. Their brains and bodies are still growing and sleep is when the brain can heal and process the day’s activities. 

It can feel overwhelming to try to fit it all in, especially if you’re a working parent but I promise sleep is just as vital to your child’s well being as food or exercise. Prioritizing sleep will benefit your whole family for the rest of your life. If you’re ready for something to change but are unsure how to get started, book a free sleep assessment with me and we’ll get the ball rolling.

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